I just received the latest Criminal Justice Section Newsletter from the A.B.A., and I was glad to be reminded of their website, www.beforeyouplea.com. It lists the collateral consequences of juvenile delinquency adjudications in such areas as education, employment, and public benefits. The site has a carefully-footnoted chapter on each state’s applicable laws as well as state-specific lists of general resources and links.
The site is an excellent place to begin your research the next time a juvenile client or her parent asks if a delinquency record can prevent her from getting a job, being accepted to college, joining the military, or becoming a U.S. citizen. Similarly, when advising your client before a plea as to whether she can be suspended or expelled from school, required to register as a sex offender, or evicted from public housing, this site is the place to go. It is important for clients to understand that juvenile records are not always private, and that a state’s juvenile code may allow for access by the general public, school officials, or potential employers, something that the website also covers.
The A.B.A. Criminal Justice Section wants this resource to remain “current, updated and relevant,” and encourages folks to review their state’s chapter and submit updates to Section Staff Attorney Sarina Cox (Sarina.Cox@americanbar.org). Likewise, if your law school or organization would like to take responsibility for updating your state’s chapter or would like more information on the project, please contact Attorney Cox.