Proposed Bill Seeks to Expunge Felony Records for Juveniles
Florida state Sen. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, is championing a new bill that will give more people a second chance – or, more precisely, more young people a second chance. The bill aims to expand Florida’s current law regarding juvenile record expungement. Currently, a juvenile who commits a nonviolent misdemeanor crime can have his or her record expunged by participating in a diversion program. That, however, is not an option for those with felony charges. The bill proposes to offer this diversion program to those with felony charges as well, so they can start their lives as an adult with a clean slate.
What Are Florida’s Current Expungement Laws for Juveniles?
Many believe that a person under the age of 18 who’s charged with a crime will have their criminal record wiped clean after they become an adult. Contrary to popular belief, that’s not so. A juvenile’s criminal history isn’t cleared automatically when they reach legal adulthood. The criminal charge will still show up on a background check for any employer, bank, or landlord who wants to see it.
To have the charge removed from their record, the juvenile will have to participate in a diversion program, then petition the court to expunge their record no later than 12 months after the program has been completed. The benefit of this program is that it allows juveniles to seek an expungement for a crime committed later in life if need be.
The purpose of a diversion program is to redirect juvenile delinquents from crime through supervision, programming, and support. The goal is to prevent them from re-committing crimes and to influence positive change for their futures. Programs do vary – some are targeted toward youth with mental health or substance abuse concerns. Common types of service that these programs provide include the following:
- Education and tutorial service
- Job skills training
- Mental health treatment
- Substance abuse education and counseling
- Parenting skills development
- Organized recreation and sports programs
The benefits of these programs have been shown to reduce the number of juveniles who continue to engage in criminal activity and the number of out-of-home placements. It’s also much less costly than continuing through the juvenile justice court system.
Where Does the Bill Currently Stand?
Currently, the bill has received a positive response from Florida lawmakers. There were almost 5,000 kids with felony charges in the fiscal year 2018-2019 who were recommended for the juvenile diversion program. If this bill becomes law, those 5,000 kids have an opportunity for a second chance in life without the burden of a felony criminal record haunting them.
The bill was approved by the Senate Criminal Justice Committee on Tuesday, Jan. 14. Two more legislative committees need to approve it before it can be voted on by the full Senate. This legislation appears to have a good chance of becoming Florida’s latest juvenile justice law.
Experienced Expungement and Juvenile Attorneys in Orlando
When you carry the weight of a criminal record, the quality of your life is at stake — especially if you’re a young adult with the rest of your life ahead of you. The lawyers at Umansky Law Firm have more than 100 years of combined legal experience and are recognized as Florida’s Legal Elite. Umansky and his team have helped many clients expunge their record so they can have a second chance. If anyone understands the steps of cleaning a criminal record, it’s them.