On Thursday, January 8, 2015, state representative Mia Jones (D-Jacksonville) submitted for approval a bill seeking to amend Florida’s statute on expunging charges from juvenile records.
What House Bill 205 Proposes
House Bill 205 seeks to reduce the time period in which conviction records must be retained before juvenile criminal records can be expunged. Under the current law, minors with criminal records who have been committed to a correctional facility must wait five years after they turn 21 before their record can be expunged. The proposed bill seeks to reduce the period for which criminal records of a minor must be retained until the minor’s eighteenth birthday, at which point the record will be expunged.
Does Not Apply to Serious Offenses
While the criminal history amendment does not apply to juveniles with serious offenses on their records such as rape, robbery, or murder, the state’s policy on retention of lesser charges has often been challenged by child advocates who contend that the continued retention of youthful offender convictions provide a barrier to adults from holding decent jobs or attaining higher learning opportunities.
Privacy of Juvenile Records and the Juvenile Law Center Scorecard
Prior to the bill being introduced, Florida was found to be among the worst in failing to protect the privacy of juveniles across the country. In November 2014, the Juvenile Law Center released a scorecard, which ranked Florida 32nd for policies keeping juvenile records confidential, sealed, and expunged.
The scorecard is an attempt to educate state legislators on the impact of juvenile criminal records on the ability of youth to successfully transition to adulthood, especially when these records remain available long after the individual’s involvement with the youth juvenile justice system. Similarly, House Bill 205 is meant to assist those with juvenile criminal records get a second chance, move past their mistake, and live and work productively in their communities.