According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, over 400,000 children under the age of 18 were arrested in 2020—a downward trend, yet still a troubling statistic. As a parent, you never expect your children to be a part of that statistic, but unfortunately, it happens.
The most common juvenile arrests nationwide involve:
- Simple assault
- Drug violations
- Larceny and other property crimes such as burglary, arson, and motor vehicle theft
- Disorderly conduct
Even juvenile crimes can have major and far-reaching consequences, so it’s important to take quick action and hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect their rights and develop a strong defense strategy.
While many people think that the penalties associated with a conviction are where the punishment stops, there are additional long-term repercussions that may accompany a juvenile criminal conviction in Massachusetts.
Background Checks Affecting Employment & Housing
Massachusetts Juvenile Court delinquency hearings and all subsequent court documents are not open to the public. This means that even if juvenile records aren’t sealed, a prospective employer will see “no record”. However, this is not the case for youthful offender convictions.
What Is the Difference Between Delinquency & Youthful Offender?
While delinquency and youthful offender both describe young people who have committed a crime, the difference between the two has to do with the seriousness of the crime and the severity of the sentence. In some cases, youthful offenders can face the same maximum sentencing as an adult.
The Massachusetts Department of Youth Services defines a youthful offender as someone between 14 and 17 years old who has committed a felony as well as one of the following:
- Certain firearms offenses
- An offense which involves serious bodily harm (either in infliction or threat of infliction)
- Previous DYS commitment
If a juvenile with a record applies for a job or housing, an employer or landlord would be able to see a conviction with a background check. This can drastically affect a person’s ability to secure a job or find adequate housing as an adult.
This does not even take into consideration the correlation between youth involved in the justice system and reduced high school graduation rates—which further impacts job security later in life. A 2008 study found that arrested youth were 11% less likely to graduate high school than non-arrested individuals and those incarcerated were about 26% less likely to graduate than non-arrested individuals.
According to a 2017 study by researchers at the David Geffen School of Medicine, people incarcerated as juveniles have worse physical and mental health as adults when compared to those who did not spend time in detention centers or correctional facilities.
Additionally, a study headed by Karen M. Abram, PhD shows that although rates decrease over time, there is an increase in risky sexual behavior by those who have been confined as a youth—disproportionately affecting racial/ethnic minorities and potentially contributing to higher HIV/AIDS rates.
Increased Likelihood of Imprisonment
Recidivism refers to the act of an individual repeating criminal acts even after they have undergone negative consequences for the behavior. Unfortunately, according to a juvenile recidivism report conducted by the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services (DYS) in 2022 found that of the 387 youths evaluated, 26% recidivated within one year of leaving DYS.
The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) states “While national recidivism rates are not available, a review of state studies found that rearrest rates for youth within 1 year of release averaged 55 percent, while reincarceration and reconfinement rates averaged 24 percent.” Ongoing run-ins with the legal system not only impact educational, employment, and housing opportunities but can also lead to emotional or behavioral disorders.
Unlike adult criminal records, juvenile arrest and conviction records can be sealed. Expunged records can make it easier to get a driver’s license, find a job, rent a home, get a loan, and apply to a university. While in some cases, the courts will seal juvenile records automatically, others require you to petition for expungement, costing you time and money to do so. An attorney can guide you through the expungement process, so you have a better idea of whether expungement is possible and represent you in any necessary hearings.
Brad Bailey Law Provides Experienced Juvenile Representation in Criminal Cases
Juvenile criminal convictions clearly have long-lasting consequences for all those involved, which is why if your child is charged with a crime, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. At Brad Bailey Law, our compassionate attorneys can provide extensive legal guidance and create a strong defense designed to either have the charges completely dropped or reduce sentencing.
If your child has been arrested, contact our Boston criminal defense lawyer at Brad Bailey Law today. Call (617) 500-0252 or fill out our online form to get started.