Juvenile Law and Practice


Youth naturally comes with indiscretion.  Getting into trouble is part of growing up.  However, some offenses can carry serious consequences that may follow a child into adulthood.

The justice system treats children differently than adults.  The juvenile and domestic relations courts focus on rehabilitation rather than incarceration.  With proper representation from an attorney who knows the nuances of juvenile representation, any charges may be reduced or dismissed so that the child can get back to growing up and becoming a productive and successful adult. 

Consequences of a Juvenile Felony Conviction

  •  all court records shall be open to the public.”

Pursuant to Va. Code §16.1-305, if a juvenile over the age of 14 is adjudicated delinquent of what would be a felony if convicted as an adult, all court records shall be open to the public.

  • Court records shall be retained

Unlike misdemeanor juvenile records, if a juvenile is found delinquent of a felony the court records are never expunged meaning potential employers, universities, etc. will have access to the juvenile felony records.

  • Civil rights to vote and sit on a jury remain

Pursuant to Va. Code §16.1-308, a juvenile felony adjudication will not operate to deprive that person of their civil rights to vote and sit on a jury.

  • The juvenile’s fingerprints will be put on file with the Central Criminal Records Exchange and their DNA sample taken and sent to the Division of Forensic Science.

Therefore, the felony adjudication will show up on any future background search, whether for employment, college, graduate schools or government agencies.

 Consequences of a Juvenile Misdemeanor Conviction

  • Court records are not open to the public

Pursuant to Va. Code §16.1-305, juvenile misdemeanor records are only accessible to attorneys involved in the case, treatment providers, probation officers, the legal custodian(s) of the juvenile and the DMV.

  • Fingerprints and photographs are filed with the Central Criminal Record Exchange

Although court records are mostly sealed, the police record will still exist although its dissemination is still strictly limited including to law enforcement and probation officers.

  • Misdemeanor convictions should not appear in background checks

Therefore potential employers, colleges, graduate schools and most government agencies will not be able to see a juvenile misdemeanor conviction.

Expungement of Juvenile Records

  • Juvenile records are destroyed after the juvenile has turned 19 AND five years have passed since the date of the last hearing involving the juvenile.

The  process for juvenile records is governed by Virginia Code § 16.1-306: “[T]he clerk of the juvenile and domestic relations district court shall, on January 2 of each year or on a date designated by the court, destroy its files, papers and records, including electronic records, connected with any proceeding concerning a juvenile in such court, if such juvenile has attained the age of 19 years and five years have elapsed since the date of the last hearing in any case of the juvenile which is subject to this section.”

  • The violation of law shall be treated as if it never occurred.”

Once the matter has been expunged by the court, Va. Code §16.1-306 provides that “[a]ll index references shall be deleted and the court and law-enforcement officers and agencies shall reply and the person may reply to any inquiry that no record exists with respect to such person.”

  • Felony adjudications “shall be retained.”

As mentioned above, felony juvenile adjudications are not subject to expungement and shall be retained for all the world to see.