Will a Juvenile Felony Conviction Show Up When an Employer Conducts a Background Check?

What to do when a juvenile felony conviction shows up on a background check?


A juvenile felony conviction refers to when a minor is charged with committing a crime under the age of 18. Youth is often considered a time of careless freedom, where you tend to take more risks, sometimes leading to long-lasting consequences. A juvenile conviction can be the result of one such action. Now if you are seeking a job during the present Covid-19 crisis, this is a time where candidates across America are stepping up their authenticity to win their dream job, despite the economic slowdown.


DID YOU KNOW?  59% of juveniles transferred to criminal courts were convicted of a felony, and 52% of those convicted of a felony were sentenced to prison. About a third of juveniles in criminal courts sentenced to State prison received a sentence of 4 years or less.


You may be one such candidate. And yet, a juvenile record can be detrimental to your job hunt, especially when it is hunted out during a background screening process. Here are four things to know about juvenile records.

1.     Juvenile convictions appear in criminal background checks

Yes, the misdemeanor of your youth will certainly appear in a criminal background check, especially if it is done by a seasoned screening company. This will include driving violations (including DUI), theft, fights that led to an arrest or conviction, drug arrests, and convictions, and other juvenile offenses. It is hence best to be ruthlessly honest in your job application.

Often, employers are willing to listen to your side of the story and consider hiring you despite your juvenile record, if you have proven yourself as a law-abiding person since the conviction.

2.     The state determines all

You may be surprised to know that the word “juvenile” does not have a consistent interpretation across America. For instance, in some states, this may start at 16 years, with a 19-year age limit. In some states, a 13-year old child may also be legally tried just as an adult, for serious criminal offenses. Whether your youth conviction is considered as a juvenile conviction or an adult conviction depends completely on your state.

3.     A juvenile record can be expunged

Consider that you were arrested for a juvenile felony, but later released without being convicted. Or, you may have successfully completed probation post-conviction. In either case, proof that you are now a decent, law-abiding citizen is often enough to expunge a juvenile record from your past.

In this case, the public record is considered destroyed for all practical purposes. For this reason, most adults prefer to have their juvenile records destroyed, in order to neutralize their potential impact on school, job, or loan applications. This is legally allowed, but it is best to go through a lawyer to have your juvenile record expunged in court.

Expunged juvenile records typically do not appear in a background check. But if your public record was accessed by a background screening company before it was expunged, they will have this information, but maybe legally disallowed from sharing it with others. On the other hand, if a hiring company decides to do their own background check and comes upon your public record before it was expunged, they can use it to determine your employment. Again, rules vary based on state.

4.     A juvenile felony conviction record can also be sealed

Consider that rare case where a juvenile conviction was reversed by a subsequent judgment. In such a case, the judge may choose to seal the earlier juvenile conviction. Unlike expunged records, sealed records continue to exist but are typically made unavailable through public records.

Also, some states may allow juvenile records to automatically be sealed after a certain period (typically 7 – 10 years). Again, whether your juvenile record was expunged or sealed depends on the state.


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