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3 common misconceptions about juvenile crimes

The number of total juvenile arrests in Pennsylvania has steadily declined over the years. In 2006, 8,574.4 juvenile arrests took place out of every 100,000 individuals between the ages of 10 and 17. By 2014, the rate was only at 4,883.5.

Many parents hope they never have to deal with their children going into the criminal justice system. Part of these worries come down to misconceptions many people hold about juvenile crimes. It is vital to separate fact from fiction so that parents can take the best action for their kids.

Myth #1: Records become sealed upon a child's 18th birthday

A criminal record can follow people for the rest of their lives. This can influence the ease of obtaining housing or getting a job. Many parents wrongly assume that a child's criminal history becomes automatically expunged on the kid's 18th birthday. However, that is not actually the case. The family needs to pursue an expungement by filing a motion with the court. The success of an expungement comes down to how long ago the crime occurred and what crime it was.

Myth #2: Only bad kids end up in the criminal system

All parents want to think their children are ultimately good. A child may receive good grades and may not be prone to any self-destructive behavior. However, children from all backgrounds end up in the criminal system. Touching another child without permission or bullying other kids online can result in criminal charges. It only takes one misstep for a child to end up with a record.

Myth #3: Juvenile charges come with hefty punishments

Punishments ultimately depend on the exact crime committed. However, the punishments for a juvenile trial may not always be the same as for adults. While there are certainly no guarantees, judges may grant leniency on kids under the age of 18. Common punishments for youths include mandatory curfews, fines, community service or probation. Parents can help keep their kids out of a cell by ensuring an experienced attorney is by their child's side.