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How Can Juvenile Records Impact Your Defense Case?

Posted on May 20, 2024 in

A criminal case against you in Arizona can be daunting under any circumstances. If you have an existing juvenile criminal record, however, this could have a negative impact on your current case. An experienced and aggressive Arizona criminal defense attorney can help protect you from these adverse effects as much as possible.

Plea Deal Negotiations

A plea deal or plea bargain is a negotiated agreement between your defense attorney and the prosecution. A plea deal typically involves the defendant agreeing to plead guilty or no contest to one or more criminal charges in exchange for fewer ramifications, such as reduced charges or a lighter or alternative sentence.

A prosecutor may take your juvenile record into account during plea deal negotiations. Prior offenses on your record, even as a child under the age of 18, could negatively impact the prosecutor’s willingness to negotiate a plea bargain with you or your lawyer. This could lead to less favorable plea deal terms.

Bail or Pretrial Release Decisions

If you are arrested and put in jail, your juvenile records could impact a judge’s decisions regarding your potential pretrial release. At the bail hearing, where the judge will decide if you can post bail and be released from custody while waiting for your trial date, any history you have of juvenile convictions could be brought up by the prosecution. Depending on the circumstances, this information could sway the judge’s decisions when considering the terms of your bail, such as its amount.

Criminal Sentencing Considerations 

A history of juvenile crimes could also impact a new criminal case by motivating a judge to give you a harsher sentence if you are convicted. Whereas a judge is more likely to be lenient if it is your first offense, a history of criminal activity in your younger years (even if your juvenile criminal records have been sealed) could establish a pattern of crime or recidivism that leads to a judge penalizing you more harshly. While less common, juvenile crimes could potentially also be used to enhance the current charges against you.

Evidence Against You in Your New Case

In Arizona, juvenile records are not automatically sealed when the individual reaches the age of 18. This means it is possible that your prior criminal history as a juvenile could be admitted as evidence against you by the prosecutor in a new criminal case, depending on the circumstances. 

The prosecution may use it as evidence of your character or credibility, for example, or to establish a pattern of behavior related to the alleged offense (if the current charges are similar to past offenses). A defense attorney can work to challenge the admissibility of juvenile records on your behalf.

How to Have Your Juvenile Records Sealed in Arizona

Having a juvenile record can impact many aspects of your life and future, including any subsequent arrests or criminal charges you may face. Getting your juvenile records sealed is a solution that can help you diminish the adverse effects related to criminal offenses you committed when you were just a child or teen.

Arizona Revised Statute Section 8-349 allows certain individuals who are at least 18 years old to apply for the destruction of their juvenile criminal records. To qualify, you must not have been convicted of a felony offense, a criminal charge must not be pending against you, and you must have completed all the terms and conditions of your sentence, including paying any restitution or fines in full.

Certain juvenile crimes, such as sex crimes, are not eligible for expungement or sealing in Arizona. For more information about how your juvenile records may impact a current case, or to request legal guidance on juvenile record expungement, contact Snader Law Group for a free and confidential consultation with a Phoenix sex crimes attorney.