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No Sir! The Effects of Juvenile Convictions on Military Eligibility

by | Feb 11, 2015 | From Adam's Desk

It is difficult enough growing up. Too often I hear adults reminiscing with rose-colored glasses about the good old days when they were kids. Especially in a small town, the conversations become somewhat akin to a Bruce Springsteen song – and no disrespect to “the Boss,” I love his music. But, being a kid -even into your mid-twenties – life occurs within about five feet in front of you.

While there is not one of us who can say that we are not guilty of some act of defiance or lawlessness in our youth, the vast majority of young people do not have any concept of the “collateral consequences” of even some of their most menial delinquent acts.

The common misconception that I hear all too often is that, “when I turn 18 my juvenile delinquency record does not matter anymore. . .” This is simply not the case. As the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Padilla v. Kentucky put the burden of conveying the negative consequences of criminal convictions to clients on the defense attorney – the same obligation applies to juvenile clients facing or admitting to delinquency allegations.

Regardless, in Ohio, each county handles the sealing of juvenile records differently. For example, in Crawford County, the Court automatically – without a charge to the child – seals a delinquency adjudication upon the age of majority or whenever the child becomes otherwise eligible; while in Butler County, a child must file an application to seal his or her record, along with a $60.00 filing fee. Regardless, the most important step, expunging the record (i.e. having it destroyed, physically and electronically) requires a written application process in every county throughout the state.

The Ohio Public Defender’s Office is a great resource for information on eligibility for the expungement of juvenile delinquency records.The referenced website even includes forms that may help a family apply for the sealing and/or expungement of a juvenile’s record, and at the least, will provide an individual with his or her county’s respective requirements.

Despite the ability to seal and expunge most delinquency adjudications in juvenile proceedings, the record(s) can still affect the child’s eligibility for scholarships, state and federal funding for school, eligibility for professional licensure, and for many of my clients – their eligibility to serve their country in the armed forces.

When it comes to serving in the military, the federal government has taken the position, to ensure equal treatment of all persons applying for enlistment, under Title 32, Chapter V, Section 571.3(c)(2)(i) of the Code of Federal Regulations, the applicants to any branch of the United States Armed Services are required to disclose all sealed, expunged, or juvenile records. While under State law, the applicant with a pardon, expungement or dismissal has no record of conviction; a waiver is nonetheless required to authorize his or her enlistment. Failure to disclose this information or providing false information is considered a federal offense.

Essentially, this means that even if a client successfully seals and expunges his or her record, the adjudication may still prohibit him or her from enlisting in the armed services. At the very least, the child must disclose the adjudication to his or her recruiter.

The foregoing demonstrates that we, attorneys, have a duty to understand and convey the collateral consequences of delinquency adjudications to our clients. More importantly, we have to be sensitive to the fact that these realities can have a profound effect on our clients’ futures and can never be taken lightly.

If you or your child has been charged with a criminal in juvenile court (i.e. delinquency allegations), hire an experienced criminal defense attorney whom you trust to investigate, argue, stand-up and fight for your child’s constitutional rights and future.

In our office we have extensive experience in the sealing and expunging of juvenile records, and we have had success in defending allegations of juvenile delinquency and find ourselves arguing in juvenile courts across Ohio on a regular basis. We work hard to stay at the cutting edge in juvenile defense techniques, and up-to-date on the latest scientific and forensic methods and techniques of investigation and exoneration.

My office is constantly undergoing legal education seminars that focus on eyewitness identification, scientific forensics/ analysis, DNA, medical, psychological and neuropsychological issues that go hand-in-hand with preparing the best possible defense to such crimes. We utilize only the finest private investigators, accident reconstructionists, medical experts and neuropsychologists in the state and in the country with whom we consult and call as expert witnesses when necessary.

We are available day or night to meet our clients’ needs and to provide him or her with the most effective defense available. Our office utilizes the latest in trial technology to present our case in the most creative and persuasive manner possible.