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What Happens to a Juvenile Record When You Turn 18?

Posted on November 8, 2023

During a person’s time as a juvenile, their records are typically treated with a level of confidentiality. They are not available to the public without a court order unless the child is charged as an adult. However, they are not automatically erased when a minor turns 18.


Under a Colorado law established in 2017, the juvenile record expungement process and waiting periods have been eliminated. Minors found not guilty, with dismissed cases, or those who completed sentences for low-level offenses (including petty offenses and low-level misdemeanors) now have their cases automatically expunged. The following individuals are eligible:

  • If you were found not guilty at trial, records will be expunged immediately.
  • If given a ticket or arrested, but no further action was taken, records will be expunged after one year.
  • If you completed a juvenile diversion program or informal adjustment, records will be expunged after one year.
  • Record expungement after four years if the Court has terminated jurisdiction, you were unconditionally released from commitment to the department of human services, or you were unconditionally released from parole supervision.
  • Record expungement after ten years if you have been adjudicated a repeat or mandatory juvenile offender, and the Court has terminated jurisdiction, or you are unconditionally released from parole supervision, whichever date is later.

The court will initiate the expungement process by sending a notice to the prosecution, who, in turn, informs the victim. If neither the prosecution nor the victim objects, the record will be automatically expunged. However, expunged records can still be accessed if the juvenile is later charged with another offense. On the other hand, if either party objects, there will be a hearing, and the court will decide whether to expunge the record. A judge will evaluate whether the juvenile has satisfactorily undergone rehabilitation, as well as whether expungement is in their best interests and the community’s.

Previously, minors had to wait as long as five years before they could complete and file a legal petition to attend a court hearing and ask that their juvenile records be expunged. As a result, many juveniles failed to expunge their records due to this task’s complicated and daunting nature. The goal of Colorado’s new law is to give underage offenders an opportunity for rehabilitation without having a lasting impact on their adult lives.

Juvenile Records Not Eligible for Expungement

Juvenile offenders not eligibility to have their records expunged include the following:

  • Adjudication for an offense involving unlawful sexual behavior, as defined in 16-22-102(9), C.R.S.
  • Adjudication as an aggravated juvenile offender.
  • Adjudication as a violent juvenile offender.
  • Adjudication for an offense that would be classified as a crime of violence if committed by an adult.
  • Those charged as a juvenile and subsequently sentenced as an adult.

Juvenile Record Impact on Background Checks

Following expungement, juveniles are legally permitted to deny the existence of a juvenile delinquency record related to the expunged matter. Furthermore, employers, educational institutions, landlords, and state and local government agencies are prohibited from mandating applicants to disclose information regarding expunged records.

Juvenile records that are not expunged can significantly influence an individual’s future by potentially affecting their educational and employment opportunities. Even though the juvenile justice system is designed to prioritize rehabilitation, these records might still be accessible to certain entities. Colleges, universities, and employers may inquire about juvenile offenses during application processes, which could lead to discrimination or hesitation in admitting or hiring individuals with a history of delinquency. Moreover, the stigma attached to a juvenile record might impact an individual’s ability to secure housing or participate in certain community activities.