There is hope for those with juvenile records who are looking for a clean slate.
The Utah Board of Juvenile Justice will host an expungement clinic Oct. 8 at the Viridian Event Center in West Jordan.
“It’s important for those with a juvenile record to understand how that record can follow them into adulthood. Most people think if they have a juvenile record, it goes away at 18, or it stays sealed or confidential, but that’s not true,” says Monica Diaz, managing attorney at Utah Juvenile Defender Attorneys.
The expungement clinic is open to anyone who has a Utah juvenile record.
“Expungement is so important because it allows a youth to move past their mistakes and to move forward as if the mistakes have never occurred,” says Diaz.
Applicants must be at least 18 years old and at least one year out from the date of termination of juvenile court jurisdiction or termination of Youth Parole Authority. There are no fees for participants and all Utah judicial districts are eligible for review.
“Because the juvenile court’s focus is rehabilitation, we owe it to youth to honor their second chance, to recognize their efforts, their rehabilitation, and the fact that youth are more today than they were yesterday,” says Diaz.
Applicants must appear in person and provide a valid government-issued picture ID. Participants will be helped through the entire process, with assistance offered at no cost by attorneys who specialize in juvenile delinquency.
After meeting with an attorney to check eligibility, an application will be filled out and fingerprints will be taken. The process takes about 30 minutes.
Later, a judge will review the applications; most people have to come back to court 60 days later to complete the expungement, where free legal representation will still be available.
“We grow up and learn from our mistakes. That is absolutely the focus of juvenile court — to help a young person learn from their mistake and gain skills to never repeat that mistake again,” says Diaz.
Diaz also says a juvenile record keeps young offenders from moving forward and can cause a person to relive and revisit that mistake over and over again. It can create roadblocks to employment, education, housing and citizenship.
“Many college and job applications ask about juvenile records, and if the records are expunged, people can feel comfortable about how to answer those questions,” adds Diaz.
The Oct. 8 clinic will begin at 4:30 p.m. at the Viridian Event Center, located at 8030 S. 1825 W. in West Jordan. Other expungement clinics will be held Dec. 6 in St. George and April 17, 2020, in Vernal.
Visit justice.utah.gov for more information.