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Your juvenile record does not define you

Jan. 4, 2021

A criminal background check form


A juvenile record does not define you. Minnesota’s juvenile justice system balances public safety with an individual’s responsibility to follow the law. The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) maintains records on people under 18 who commit felonies and gross misdemeanors. It’s important to know how a juvenile record can affect your life as an adult.

The most common misconception about juvenile records is that they disappear when you turn 18. This is not true. Some, like juvenile delinquency adjudications, are retained until you turn 28; others, like diversions, only stick around until you’re 21. Some of these records are retained longer if you are convicted of a felony as an adult (if you committed a crime as a juvenile for which you were tried and convicted as an adult and sentenced with extended juvenile jurisdiction, or if you are convicted of a felony after you turn 18). In that case, the record is retained until your 100th birthday, just like an adult record.

If you’re a juvenile and need a background check, the results depend on who is asking and why. Some jobs require background checks by law. These include security guards, apartment managers, or people working with children or the elderly, just to name a few. Potential employers will see your juvenile history. A person’s juvenile record will not be provided if the background check isn’t required by law – even if you sign a form approving release of the information. Once you’re an adult and you apply for a rental home, landlords won’t see your juvenile record, either.

Each field of employment has certain offenses that prevent you from working in that field. For example, if you were convicted of assault, you wouldn’t be allowed to work in a school. If you have an interest in a certain field or career, you may want to research whether your offense would prevent you from working or getting a license in that field.

Juvenile records at the BCA are private and can only be released when required by law. However, the records come from law enforcement agencies like police departments and sheriffs’ offices, as well as courts, which are required to report felony and gross misdemeanor offenses and case outcomes to the BCA. Those entities may have different rules about public accessibility.

Knowing exactly what is in your juvenile record (and whether it’s accurate) can help you avoid surprises, such as a question from a potential employer in a job interview. You can request records about yourself from any agency you think might maintain a record. To get your BCA juvenile record, you can either go in person or send a notarized letter requesting your record.

A juvenile record doesn’t have to affect your life forever. If you set goals, follow the law, and ask for help when you need it, you can demonstrate you have taken responsibility for your wrongdoings and you’re making a positive change.

You can read more about Minnesota criminal history records on the BCA website.