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Expunging Juvenile Records: Misconceptions, Collateral Consequences, and Emerging Practices

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2020
12 pages

This bulletin identifies and discusses common misconceptions about the expungement of juvenile delinquency records and provides information on the collateral consequences of having a juvenile record, as well as federal, state, and local emerging practices on this issue.


Expungement, sealing, and confidentiality are legally distinct methods for either destroying or limiting access to juvenile records; however, these methods may continue to permit access to juvenile records by police, courts, or the public under state laws. Procedures for managing expunged juvenile records vary widely among states. Youth with juvenile records often experience collateral consequences due to their arrest or adjudication, including limiting access to educational services, obtaining employment, serving in the military, and finding and maintaining housing. States, localities and the federal government have sought to remove or limit these collateral consequences of a juvenile record. “Ban-the-box” legislation aims to remove from employment applications questions about criminal history. To date, 31 states, the District of Columbia, just over 150 counties, and nearly 200 jurisdictions have enacted some form of such legislation or policy. Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, Oregon, and Wisconsin expunge and seal all juvenile law enforcement and court records without exception; all juvenile offenses are eligible for expungement, and they automatically notify youth of their eligibility for expungement or sealing of their records. Some jurisdictions have held workshops on ways to counter the collateral consequences of public access to juvenile records. 30 references

Date Published: December 1, 2020