Updated: Apr 2
By Michael P. Rellahan Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org On Twitter @ChescoCourtNews Jan 17, 2020
Chester County offers a fresh start for diversion program juveniles upon reaching the age of 18. Pictured left to right are: Yolanda Van de Krol, Chester County Clerk of Courts; Renee Merion, Deputy District Attorney in charge of the Juvenile Unit; and Don Corry, Chester County Chief Juvenile Probation Officer.
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WEST CHESTER — Hailing it as an “innovative approach to criminal justice,” Chester County officials have unveiled an effort to rid qualified juvenile offenders of their past records, even if the offenders themselves do not request it.
The new service — put together by leaders in the county Juvenile Probation Office, District Attorney’s Office, Clerk of Courts, and the Common Pleas Court — applies to those juveniles who completed the county’s diversionary program for non-violent youthful offenders and follows in the wake of an earlier effort to provide assistance for those with clean records.
Any juveniles that successfully complete the diversion program, and are otherwise qualified to have their record expunged because of a lack of additional criminal conduct will have their record expunged upon turning 18 years old. It applies to all eligible juveniles who turned 18 on or after Aug. 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 re-offending,” said Don Corry, the 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.