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When is a juvenile record accessible to the public?

Age does matters when determining how an arrestee's case will be handled. People who are at least 18-years-old will go through the adult criminal justice system. However, most people under the age of 18 will go through the juvenile law system.

These two systems vary in a few respects. The biggest difference is that the goal of the juvenile justice system is to try to rehabilitate the juvenile. Another is that juvenile cases, for the most part, are not public. This means that for most matters, only those directly involved in the court proceeding will be able to see court documentation relating to the case.

However, there are exceptions to this rule. Certain juvenile matters are open to the public and that means anyone conducting a background check will be able to see what the juvenile was charged with, which can have major effects on the juvenile as they grow older.

The following conditions must be present in order for a juvenile proceeding to be public: the child must be adjudicated delinquent of a felony, the juvenile equivalent of a conviction, and must be at least 14-years-old; or the child must be 12 or 13-years-old and commit serious crimes including, but not limited to, murder, aggravated assault, arson, rape, kidnapping, robbery and others.

Juvenile crimes in Philadelphia can have a major impact on a child's life, both short-term and long-term. This is especially true if the juvenile's record is available to the public. However, there may be defenses available to the juvenile after being charged with a crime.

Source: Pennsylvania State Legislature, "Title 42 section 6307" accessed on June 20, 2016

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