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College-Bound Juveniles Should Petition to Seal Their Adjudications

It is widely recognized that juveniles make mistakes of judgment, which is why Nevada’s juvenile justice system is geared towards rehabilitation and deterrence rather than only punishment. In Nevada, your juvenile records are automatically sealed when you turn 21 except for certain crimes.

However, most juveniles who are interested in pursuing higher education start college at age 18. A prior criminal adjudication ― a juvenile court conviction ― may adversely affect your college dreams. An unsealed juvenile criminal record may result in:

  • Denial of federal tuition assistance
  • Denial of admission to colleges that do criminal background checks
  • Denial of a job that would help support you while working your way through college

Any one of these factors might put college out of reach for you.

Can I seal my juvenile record before age 21?

It depends. Under Nevada law, you may petition for the sealing of your juvenile records before you turn 21. However, the law also requires that you wait three years from the time you were last referred to juvenile court or were last adjudicated delinquent, whichever is later. So if you are applying to colleges at age 18 and want to seal your juvenile record, your last referral to or adjudication in juvenile court would have to be when you were age 15 or younger.

If you qualify by meeting these timelines for sealing, you still have to prevail at a hearing. When you file the petition to have your record sealed, the juvenile court notifies the prosecutor and probation department in the jurisdiction where you were adjudicated, who are given an opportunity at a court hearing to agree to the sealing or to register their objections. The juvenile court must be satisfied at the close of the hearing that you have not been convicted of any felony or a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude during the last three years and that you have been rehabilitated.

Some adjudications are not automatically sealed at age 21

There is a very limited category of crimes that are not automatically sealed at age 21 under Nevada law. If you were adjudicated to be a delinquent for an act that would have been an adult felony involving the use or threatened use of force or violence, lewdness involving a child, sexual assault, battery with intent to commit sexual assault, or sexual assault, you may not petition to have these juvenile court records sealed until age 30. For this petition for sealing to succeed, you must not have had any other convictions since age 21, except for traffic violations.

If you or a member of your family has a juvenile adjudication that you would like to have sealed, then contact a skilled juvenile criminal defender about creating options that can safeguard your future.

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