Interviewer: During the process, what are some common mistakes that juveniles should avoid?
Gary Churak: They need to avoid being arrogant and not realizing the seriousness of the offense. Or if they are on probation, they need to avoid violating their probation. They need to take it seriously. If they don’t take it seriously, there could be major problems.
Interviewer: Do you see that happening more commonly with juveniles because of a lack of maturity or peer pressure?
Gary Churak: A lot of it is lack of maturity.
Interviewer: What is something that you’d recommend to a juvenile or to a parent that could help their case?
Gary Churak: It depends on the case and depends on the individual. If we think there is an issue with drug addiction, we try to get them into a rehabilitation facility. I’ve had kids go in to outpatients and I’ve had kids go into inpatient, drug rehabilitation. That’s the first thing on the drug case because we don’t want to be in a position to be re-offending because they continue to use drugs.
Interviewer: Can you explain about what is entailed with an expungement?
Gary Churak: Under the juvenile system, there is a procedure for certain offenses to seal your record. In other words, even though you think it’s a juvenile case, your record is not automatically sealed after a certain period of time. You have to be proactive to go take care of that situation.
You have to file a motion with the court to seal the juvenile record of the juvenile. In order to do so, you go in front of the judge and if you comply with all the statutory requirements, then the judge will sign an order sealing and destroying your record. Basically, that gets it off the computer systems because everything is digital right now and records are on a computer.
If the records are destroyed when they do a background check, it won’t show up. This is helpful if you try to get into the military. If you have a juvenile record, you’re not going to get in the military right now.
There are some cases that you cannot seal due to the nature of the offense but most of them you can. It would depend what type of disposition you have on the case. If you have an informal disposition, it’s easier to seal than if you have a disposition where you found to engage in delinquent conduct. You’d have to wait a longer time depending on the offense to get that done.
It’s important that you follow up with that because you don’t want, 10 years later, to then realize you have a juvenile record that was never taken care of. So that’s one of the things my office does is proceed with the motions to seal juvenile records.