Communication of Rights and Barriers

States can establish mechanisms to ensure that people who become involved with the juvenile justice system are informed about the consequences of an adjudication as well as their rights and obligations when it comes to record clearance and disclosure.


Young people who become involved in the juvenile justice system are often unaware of the degree to which a record of adjudication may or may not impact future opportunities for employment and education. As a result, they may not take this information into account when determining whether to accept any admission of responsibility during court proceedings. Can a juvenile adjudication be denied on an application for employment that asks about criminal history? Can licensing boards or schools access juvenile records? Can a juvenile record stop a person from going to college? Is there a way to get rid of a juvenile record? These sorts of questions are common among people with juvenile justice histories, but answers are rarely provided while proceeding through the juvenile justice system or after exiting it. 


1. Pre-plea advertisement of barriers

Require juvenile courts and defense attorneys to advise juveniles, prior to accepting any admission of responsibility or plea, of the possible barriers to employment, licensure, or educational opportunity that may stem from an adjudication.

Sample legislative language

Prior to accepting an admission of responsibility for the commission of an offense, whether through a plea or other adjudication, the court shall inform the juvenile of the following, whether through a plea or other mechanism

1) That a juvenile adjudication may create barriers to employment, licensure, and educational opportunities;

2) [Where applicable] That information about a juvenile adjudication may be made available to employers, licensing bodies, and educational providers; and

3) That the juvenile may seek the advice of counsel prior to making an admission if he or she has concerns about the potential barriers to employment, licensure, or educational opportunities that may stem from a juvenile adjudication.

State policy example

Vermont: 13 V.S.A. § 8005 (advisement of barriers in adult criminal court) 

(a) When an individual receives formal notice that the individual is charged with an offense, the court shall provide either oral or written notice substantially similar to the following to be communicated to the individual: 

(1) If you plead guilty or are convicted of an offense, you may suffer additional legal consequences beyond jail or prison, home confinement, probation, and fines. These consequences may include: 

(A) being unable to get or keep some licenses, permits, or jobs; 

(B) being unable to get or keep benefits such as public housing or education; 

(C) receiving a harsher sentence if you are convicted of another offense in the future; 

(D) having the government take your property; 

(E) being unable to serve in the military or on a jury; 

(F) being unable to possess a firearm; and 

(G) being unable to exercise your right to vote if you move to another state. 

(2) If you are not a U.S. citizen, a guilty plea or conviction may also result in your deportation, removal, exclusion from admission to the United States, or denial of citizenship. 

(3) The law may provide ways to obtain some relief from these consequences. 

(4) Further information about the consequences of conviction is available on the Internet at

NOTE: Vermont law requires similar notifications to be provided at various stages of the criminal process, including prior to accepting a plea and upon release from incarceration. See 13 V.S.A. § 8006.

2. Notice of eligibility for clearance

Require juvenile courts to advise juveniles, at the time of adjudication and upon release from the court’s jurisdiction, about the status of court records and eligibility for sealing or expungement.

Sample legislative language

Upon the adjudication of a juvenile, and prior to release from the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, the court shall advise a juvenile of the following:

1) The extent to which the record of adjudication is available to the public, employers, licensing bodies, and post-secondary educational providers

2) Whether the record of adjudication is eligible for expungement at a later date

3) The earliest date that the juvenile may seek to have the record of adjudication sealed or expunged

4) The benefits conferred by sealing or expunging the record of adjudication with respect to public access and the imposition of barriers to employment, licensure, or educational opportunities

State policy example

South Carolina: S.C. Code Ann. § 63-19-2050 (notice of eligibility for clearance)

(G) The judge, at the time of adjudication, shall notify the person of the person’s ability to have the person’s record expunged, the conditions that must be met, as well as the process for receiving an expungement in the particular jurisdiction pursuant to this section.

3. Notice of status

Provide written notice of the status of a person’s juvenile record once it has been sealed, expunged, or been made otherwise confidential.

Sample legislative language

The court administrative office [or appropriate agency] shall develop and publish a uniform notice of the status of juvenile justice records that have been expunged, sealed, or made otherwise confidential. The notice shall be provided to a person at the time their record is expunged, sealed, or made otherwise confidential, and shall summarize

1) The extent to which the record is available to the public, including employers, licensing boards, and educational institutions;

2) The extent to which the record must be acknowledged on any application or other inquiry about criminal history or juvenile justice history;

3) The extent to which the record may be used to disqualify a person from employment, licensure, or education enrollment or admissions; and

4) Any additional rights, obligations, or prohibitions conferred or imposed by expungement, sealing, or other record clearance mechanisms.

4. Resource development

Develop official resources that allow juvenile courts, defense attorneys, and other advocates to properly inform juveniles and their families of the potential barriers to employment, education, and other opportunities that may be implicated by a juvenile adjudication prior to accepting responsibility for an offense.

Sample legislative language

Resources should be written in plain language and be distributed to juveniles and their families upon coming under the court’s jurisdiction and prior to the acceptance of responsibility for commission of an offense. Resources should also be made available online and accessible to individuals after case closure. In plain terms and multiple languages, resources should broadly explain

1) The potential barriers to employment, education, or other opportunities that may arise from a juvenile adjudication;

2) The extent to which state law limits the use of juvenile adjudications for purposes related to employment, education, and other opportunities;

3) The extent to which records of juvenile adjudications are made available to the general public;

4) The extent to which juvenile records must be acknowledged in response to any criminal history inquiry made by an employer, licensing board, educational institution, or other entity; and

5) Whether expungement or sealing of juvenile court records is available, the benefits conferred by expungement or sealing, and the procedures for obtaining such relief.

State policy example

While few court systems have created comprehensive child and family-centric resources, several such resources have been created by advocacy organizations across the country. Examples include: