Thanks to a new service offered through the Chester County Court system, any juveniles that successfully complete a diversion program, and are qualified to have their record expunged, will have their record expunged upon turning 18 years old. The move is the result of recommendations by Chester County’s Juvenile Probation Office, and is made in consultation and cooperation with the Chester County Clerk of Courts Office, District Attorney’s Office and Chester County Courts.
This innovative Chester County service applies to all eligible juveniles who turned 18 on or after August 1, 2019.
“The typical profile for youth who participate in one of our diversion programs, which allows them to avoid an adjudication of delinquency, is first time offenders who have committed a relatively minor offense, and are assessed as low risk for reoffending,” said Don Corry, Chester County’s Director of Juvenile Probation.
“Currently, juveniles who complete a diversion program can initiate the expungement process after six months have passed since their supervision ended if they have remained out of the criminal justice system,” said Yolanda Van de Krol, Chester County’s Clerk of Courts.
“Most juveniles don’t take this action and then find that information on their non-adjudicated record may impact applications for college, for jobs or even for renting apartments. The information is sealed in our office, but it can get out by other means.
“Expungement at the age of 18 helps those young people who made one minor, yet still illegal, mistake put the past behind them as they move on to higher education, employment and become contributing adults in society,” added Van de Krol.
Examples of the type of records that will be expunged for first time offenders who successfully completed a diversion program include misdemeanors such as criminal mischief, criminal trespass or disorderly conduct.
It is estimated that this new service will lead to 100 to 150 additional expungements a year, but the system being put in place means the new service will be absorbed within the existing responsibilities of the Clerk of Courts Office and the other offices. No additional staff will be added.
Prior to formally filing an expungement motion of an 18 year-old to the Court, the Juvenile Probation Office will determine eligibility, provide the motion to the District Attorney’s Office, and if there is no objection, the order will then be submitted to the Court for consideration. If the Court approves the expungement, the Clerk of Courts Office will then send a certified copy of the expungement order to all agencies having been involved with the juvenile.
Similar to the County’s state-wide Clean Slate program that seals but does not expunge records, this expungement service for non-adjudicated juveniles will not require any action by the juvenile to initiate the process, and will not include follow-up correspondence to juveniles whose records have been expunged.
“Also along the lines of the Clean Slate legislation, this expungement service for juveniles is valuable for counties like ours, where the unemployment rate is low,” noted Yolanda Van de Krol. “It will ensure those looking for jobs or looking to go to college who did not realize the importance of expunging their records will not have any additional stumbling blocks in their way, and will keep an unfortunate one-time misdemeanor from becoming a much longer ‘sentence’ that prevents good job opportunities.”