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Expunging juvenile records in Kansas: It's not automatic

Many juveniles have brushes with the law. Offenses such as underage drinking, drug use or assault can have lasting consequences beyond the immediate penalties. For some, juvenile court records can come back to haunt them years later.

Most people assume that juvenile criminal records are automatically shielded from public view. However, in Kansas, it's more complicated than that. The only way to truly put your past behind you is to request an expungement.

Who can qualify?

Generally speaking, to qualify for expungement, you must show that:

  • You're at least 23 years old, or at least two years have passed since you completed your sentence
  • You haven't committed any crimes since then (other than minor traffic offenses)
  • Your circumstances and behavior warrant expungement
  • You weren't convicted of an offense that's ineligible for expungement (such as murder, rape and certain other serious offenses)

Requesting expungement requires filing a petition in the right court. If you're under age 18, your parent or guardian must apply on your behalf. The process can take up to several months from start to finish.

The advantage of getting your records expunged

There are many reasons to pursue expungement:

  • Your juvenile record will be essentially erased (except for extremely limited purposes)
  • The record won't show up on background checks for jobs, schools, housing or other opportunities
  • You won't have to answer "yes" on applications asking whether you have any criminal convictions or adjudications

Juvenile offenses don't have to drag you down for the rest of your life. If you qualify for expungement, you can get a clean slate.

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