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Are My Juvenile Criminal Records Sealed?

There is a popular notion in our society that juvenile court records are ultimately disposed of, or otherwise inaccessible to public view, or even to law enforcement and courts. These ideas derive from the common perception that crimes committed by minors should be treated with more leniency and addressed with a view towards rehabilitation rather than punishment, ostensibly stemming from ideas about the child’s lack of maturity and understanding and a desire to prevent permanent or lasting impact on a child’s future. The law in Pennsylvania generally supports this notion. Section 6354 of the Judicial Code provides, “An order of disposition or other juvenile adjudication is not a conviction of a crime and does not impose any civil disability ordinarily resulting from a conviction or operate to disqualify the child in any civil service application or appointment.”

In recognition of the aforesaid principles of juvenile justice, law enforcement records are generally considered confidential in Pennsylvania, subject to a few exceptions. The exceptions to maintaining the confidentiality of these records are records that the police keep, and are kept in the Pennsylvania State Police Central Repository and with local police. Pursuant to Section 6308 of the Code, only the attorney for the minor, probation and parole departments, the corrections department to which the minor was committed, law enforcement agencies, and court personnel may access law enforcement records.

Similarly, court records, are generally confidential but may be accessed by the child; the attorney for the minor; the attorney for the victim; the Department of Corrections; the Parole Board, or any agency providing supervision or having custody of the child; law enforcement agencies, court personnel; and the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts.

While these juvenile records are generally sealed from public view, and only accessible by personnel involved in law and law enforcement, records regarding certain very serious offenses are available to the public and are not eligible for sealing or expungement if the child is 14 years old or older. These crimes include: murder, voluntary manslaughter, aggravated assault, arson, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, kidnapping, rape, robbery, or attempt or conspiracy to commit these offenses. Additionally, felony offenses committed at the age of fourteen or older are not considered confidential and are accessible to the public.

If you would like help or have additional questions with regard to the confidentiality of a minor’s records, the attorneys at Tanner Law Offices can help you. Please contact our office at 717-836-0471 to schedule a consultation to discuss the details of your case.