The Consequences of a Juvenile Delinquency Record in Minnesota
1. Is it true that a juvenile delinquency record will not limit a young person’s future opportunities in Minnesota?
No, it is not true. Although many people believe a juvenile record will not follow someone past 18, there are many ways juvenile records can be made public and ways private juvenile records can be accessed that can limit a young person’s opportunities as an adult.
2. What is the difference between a public and a private juvenile record?
A public juvenile record can be seen by the general public. A private record can only be accessed if allowed by one of the exceptions described below, and for sharing between government agencies and with schools as described in Minn. Stat. § 260B.171.
3. Where is a juvenile record kept?
Juvenile records are kept at the law enforcement agency where the arrest was made, by the courts on the Minnesota Court Integration Service (MNCIS), and at the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA). Generally, a juvenile who goes through the court system for a delinquency proceeding will end up with records at each of these locations. Each of these locations has different legal requirements for protection, retention, and sharing of the records.
If the record is public, it will also be collected by data collection companies who will then sell the data to employers and landlords and anyone else willing to pay a small fee.
4. When is a juvenile delinquency record publicly available, so that any employer or landlord can get it?
If a juvenile is charged with a felony-level offense that was committed while they were 16 or 17, the court proceeding is public and the records are public. Minn. Stat. § 260B.163, subd. 1. It does not matter if the charges were later dismissed or reduced, it will still be a public record and anyone, including future employers and landlords, can easily get it and deny employment or housing based upon the record.
Also, if the juvenile is certified to adult court (a possibility for offenders as young as 14 who are charged with a felony-level offense), all of the records relating to the proceeding are public records. See Minn. Stat. § 260B.125.
5. What about the record of an Extended Jurisdiction Juvenile (EJJ) sentence?
EJJ is a sentencing option that allows the court to extend juvenile jurisdiction until the age of 21. See Minn. Stat. § 260B.130. If the youth fails to successfully complete the EJJ sentence, it will result in an adult conviction and is treated the same as an adult record. It is publicly available and will often be the basis for denial of employment and housing. An EJJ will also be publicly available regardless of successful completion of probation if it was a felony level charge at 16 or 17 as described in number 4 above.
6. Are they any other ways a juvenile delinquency record can be seen by employers and landlords?
If the case or incident is reported on by the media, it will be publicly available and the information is not restricted by any juvenile records privacy laws. Someone might be able to find the information by just searching the internet. However, not all employers and landlords do internet searches of prospective employees and tenants and most juvenile court proceedings are closed to the media.
Many retailers maintain a database of people who have been stopped for shoplifting in their store; they then share this with other stores who may use it to deny employment. Because this data is maintained by private companies, it is not subject to juvenile records privacy laws.
The BCA and the courts are not allowed to release private juvenile records to third parties even with informed consent (a release form signed by the subject of the record), but law enforcement agencies can release the private record with the consent of the subject of the record. Some law enforcement agencies have chosen to not release the information even with informed consent, but an informal survey of several Minnesota police departments found that some do release these records to employers and others with informed consent.
7. Is a juvenile adjudication of delinquency a criminal conviction?
No. Under Minnesota law, a delinquency adjudication is not a criminal conviction. Minn. Stat. § 260B.245. However, for many practical purposes, delinquency adjudications are treated like criminal convictions.
8. Are there any laws in Minnesota that limit what an employer, landlord, or higher education institution can ask about or consider as far as juvenile records are concerned?
9. How should someone with a juvenile record answer the question about criminal convictions and records on employment and housing applications?
Someone who was adjudicated delinquent can truthfully say they have never been convicted, and the record may not be discovered if it is private. However, if the employer or landlord finds the record and does not understand the difference between adjudication and a conviction, they may think the applicant is lying. If asked if ever arrested, and someone was arrested as a juvenile, the truthful answer would be yes.
If the record is private the employer or landlord may not find it. But if a person is uncertain about the record’s availability, perhaps the best way to answer these questions is to state that the applicant has a juvenile record, and would be willing to discuss it if necessary.
10. What about driving violations?
Driving violation information is publicly available regardless of whether the driver was an adult or a juvenile.
11. What if someone with a juvenile record (even if not adjudicated delinquent or found guilty) wants to later volunteer or work with children or vulnerable adults or in health care or adopt or be a foster parent?
They might not be able to do so. The Minnesota Department of Human Services is allowed to access private juvenile records for the purposes of a background study. Minn. Stat. § 245C.08 subd. 4. These studies are done for jobs like working in a hospital, nursing home, personal care attendant, childcare, foster care, and adoption. Approximately 500,000 of these background studies are conducted in Minnesota each year.
The disqualification can also be based on an arrest or charge without a finding of guilt or adjudication if the Department of Human Services determines by a “preponderance of the evidence” that the person engaged in the conduct. Minn. Stat. § 245C.14 subd. 1 (a)(1).
Certain types of crimes or conduct will prevent someone from ever working in these occupations, and others will prevent it for seven or ten or fifteen years with the possibility of a waiver. See Minn. Stat. §245C.15.
12. What if the juvenile’s parent has an in-home daycare or provides foster care or lives in public housing?
Department of Human Services background studies are also conducted on juvenile household members of licensed homes and subject to the restrictions described in number 11 above.
Delinquency adjudication can also affect eligibility for public benefits and housing. Public housing authorities have the right to evict families of delinquent children, even if their delinquent conduct does not occur on public housing property. See HUD v. Rucker, 535 U.S. 125, 133-136 (2002).
13. How does a juvenile record affect joining the military?
Delinquency adjudication may be a bar to entering the military. Each branch has different regulations for juvenile records consideration and waivers. It is advisable to ask a recruiter about the possibility of a waiver before applying for enlistment.
14. What about working in law enforcement?
Although juvenile records are not an automatic bar to working in law enforcement in Minnesota, private juvenile records can be accessed by law enforcement agencies. Depending upon the circumstances, these records may be a factor in denying law enforcement employment.
15. How does a juvenile record affect being able to own or carry a firearm?
Someone adjudicated delinquent or convicted of a “crime of violence”, as defined by Minn. Stat. § 260B.245, is not entitled to ship, transport, possess, or receive a firearm for the remainder of the person's lifetime. Violating this law can result in a new felony conviction. See Minn. Stat. § 624.713.
16. Is a juvenile record ever destroyed?
With exceptions for some records that do not result in adjudication, the courts and the Bureau of Criminal apprehension keep their records on juvenile offenders until an offender’s 28th birthday. But, if a juvenile offender was adjudicated delinquent for a gross misdemeanor or felony offense and later commits a felony offense as an adult, the record will be maintained for as long as the records would have been maintained if the offender had been an adult. See Minn. Stat. § 260B.171, subd. 1(b). and Minn. Stat. § 299C.095.
There is no law stating how long peace officer juvenile records should be kept.
17. Are juvenile offenders ever required to register as a sex offender?
Yes. If juveniles are adjudicated delinquent for certain offenses, or another offense arising out of the same set of circumstances, they are required to register as a predatory offender. Registered juvenile offenders are not listed on a publicly accessible database. However, if they are not in compliance with registration requirements and are over 16, the information will be made publicly available. See Minn. Stat. § 243.166.
18. Can a juvenile adjudication affect sentencing for later convictions after the age of 18?
Yes, juvenile BCA records can be used to compute an individual’s criminal history score for sentencing purposes under the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines. Minn. Stat. § 299C.095.
A juvenile adjudication also may enhance a sentence in the federal criminal system. For example, delinquency adjudications count toward the three convictions necessary to impose a mandatory 15-year prison term for a crime committed under 18 U.S.C. § 922 (i.e., crimes relating to the unlawful possession, sale, manufacture or transfer of firearms). See 18 U.S.C. § 924 (e)(2)(B).
19. Are juveniles ever required to provide a DNA sample?
Yes. Juveniles charged with or adjudicated delinquent of certain offenses are required to provide a DNA sample. Minn. Stat. § 609.117 and Minn. Stat. § 299C.105.
20. Will a juvenile who has been adjudicated delinquent be allowed to vote or sit on a jury?
Because delinquency adjudication is not a conviction, a young person who turns 18 while completing the terms of his or her treatment, rehabilitation or supervision is permitted to register and vote. He or she may vote regardless of whether the delinquency adjudication is for conduct that would be a felony or a misdemeanor if committed by an adult, and regardless of whether he or she is in placement, and a person adjudicated delinquent may serve on a jury once he/she reaches the age of 18. The law is not clear regarding the voting eligibility of someone serving an EJJ sentence. For this reason, someone still serving their EJJ sentence should not vote.
In Minnesota those convicted of a felony have their right to vote automatically restored once they have completed all of the terms of their sentence, including probation or supervised release.
21. Will adjudication of delinquency restrict access to higher education?
In most cases no, but is up to the discretion of each school. Delinquency adjudication does not automatically bar access to federal student financial aid. A criminal conviction for possessing or selling illegal drugs while the person was receiving federal student grants, loans or work-study can restrict access to financial aid. See 20 U.S.C. § 1091(r).
22. How will a juvenile adjudication of delinquency affect immigration status?
Assessing the immigration consequences of delinquency adjudications is very complicated. Prior to entering an admission or proceeding to an adjudicatory hearing, the juvenile defense attorney handling the matter should always seek advice from an immigration attorney with relevant experience. Some delinquency adjudications can trigger harsh penalties, including ineligibility for legal immigrant status and vulnerability to deportation.
23. Can a juvenile record be expunged?
The juvenile records expungement statute, Minn. Stat. § 260B.198, states “...the court may expunge the adjudication of delinquency at any time that it deems advisable.” But, due to some confusion and ambiguity in the law about whether judges have the authority to seal executive branch records, some judges will not seal the law enforcement and BCA records. Minnesota’s adult criminal expungement statute (Minn. Stat. § 609A) does not have any provision for the sealing of juvenile records other than when the juvenile was certified to adult court.
Persons seeking to have a juvenile record expunged should seek the assistance of an attorney to ensure that the most complete expungement possible is obtained. For additional information and assistance options go to the Council on Crime and Justice website at www.crimeandjustice.org and click on “Expungement”.
Nothing in this publication should be relied upon as legal advice. There may be other ways a juvenile record can be released or used, and the information in this publication may not reflect current law. For legal advice regarding a juvenile record, you must consult with an attorney who can provide guidance based upon the particular circumstances.
Mark Haase, Vice President, Council on Crime and Justice, firstname.lastname@example.org