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Old Pueblo Legal Observer

New Restrictions on Prison Sentences for Kids Don’t Eliminate Severe Long-Term Consequences

Posted by Marissa L. Sites | Oct 01, 2015 | 0 Comments

As of July of this year, Arizona children who are adjudicated delinquent solely for misdemeanor offenses may not be committed to the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections, aka juvenile prison, unless the child has been previously adjudicated delinquent for a felony offense or the child is deemed to be seriously mentally ill. 

This is good news for kids in Arizona, especially given that research has for some time indicated that juvenile commitment does more harm than good.[1]

That being said, a juvenile delinquency record of just one misdemeanor is not something to be taken lightly.

Contrary to popular belief, if a child has been adjudicated delinquent, his or her record does not automatically disappear upon his or her 18th birthday. 

Rather, the person, upon turning 18, must apply to the Juvenile Court to restore his or her rights that were lost due to a juvenile adjudication, and request that the juvenile adjudication be set aside and the paper record of such an adjudication be destroyed.

Assuming the applicant has successfully completed the direct consequences associated with a delinquent adjudication, such as probation and community service, the application will oftentimes be granted. 

However, that that does not mean the person will not face additional consequences outside the courthouse and into adulthood.

The collateral consequences of a juvenile delinquency adjudication include, but are not limited to, difficulties in obtaining employment, acceptance into college, obtaining scholarships to college, obtaining a driver's license, being accepted into the military and obtaining housing. 

And while a set aside action is intended to provide relief for such collateral consequences, there is no guarantee that this will indeed occur.   

Just like adults, kids who are facing a criminal charge must be represented by experienced and competent counsel who are aware of the collateral consequences that delinquent conduct can bring and who can work to lessen the severity of such long-term consequences.

If you or someone you know has a child who has been in trouble with the law, contact Marissa L. Sites, Esq. of Karp & Weiss, PC at (520) 325-4200 or msites@karpweiss.com.

[1]           David Gottesman and Susan Wile Schwarz, Juvenile Justice in the U.S.: Facts for Policymakers, July 2011, http://www.nccp.org/publications/pub_1038.html; Barry Holman and Jason Ziedenberg, The Dangers of Detention: The Impact of Incarcerating Youth in Detention and Other Secure Facilities, November 2006, http://www.justicepolicy.org/uploads/justicepolicy/documents/dangers_of_detention.pdf.

About the Author

Marissa L. Sites

Ms. Sites primarily practices in the civil arena representing parties in family law, juvenile law and probate law matters.

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