Having a criminal record can be a real hindrance to those trying to make lives for themselves in Roanoke. Imagine just starting in one's adult life and having to deal with such an issue. That is the struggle that many juvenile offenders face. According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, roughly 2553 of every 100,000 juveniles ages 10-17 were arrested in 2016. Once those youths have completed whatever consequences resulted from their actions, how are they to avoid having their past criminal activity become a stumbling block for them in the future?
In Virginia, they may be automatically qualified to have their records expunged. Per the Virginia State Crime Commission, juveniles who have been adjudicated delinquent for misdemeanors and status offenses will see those infractions stricken from their records as soon as they reach the age of 19. Certain violations of the state's Motor Vehicle code can also be expunged upon reaching the age of 29. Unfortunately, juveniles tried as adults or convicted of crimes that would have resulted in felony charges for adult offenders cannot have their records expunged. The only time a felony arrest can be removed from one's record is if he or she was acquitted of the crime.
It should be noted, however, that even felony juvenile offenders may not have to answer "yes" to the question of if they have been found guilty of a crime. That is because of the difference in meaning between "found guilty" and "adjudicated delinquent." If one has been adjudicated delinquent, he or she does not have to say that he or she has ever been found guilty of anything. His or her offense, however, will be a part of the public record and available for review. Thus, such information can be discovered if the party asking runs a background check.