Understanding Juvenile Collateral Consequences

By collateral consequences we mean the results of arrest and court involvement that go beyond the juvenile justice system and may affect a youth’s access to public education, employment, public housing, public benefits, voting rights, and other sources of opportunity and support.

Too often youth who have been court involved, even for minor cases which have been dismissed, learn that their brush with the law has put their family’s public housing, their career and educational opportunities (including maintaining their enrollment in their secondary schools), and their future encounters with law enforcement, at risk. That the prevailing assumption of adults is that all juvenile records are sealed contributes mightily to the apathy and general disinterest in what havoc collateral consequences can lead to, and cries for increased public education and efforts to curtail some of the more extreme disclosure policies.