Kristi's Kids

Mar 20, 2014 7:22 PM by Edgar Ybarra

Kristi's Kids Investigates: Myth of juvenile records

TUCSON - Growing up kids can get into trouble. Some have a criminal past and those records disappear when they turn 18, right? Actually they don't. Though possible, there are steps one has to take.

"In about a month I picked up my DUI charge, a couple of criminal damage charges and uh, like I said, a possession charge and what not..." When he was 16, "Andrew" had been in a lot of trouble. But it was the DUI that made life difficult. "Andrew" says, "it was just a real big reality check you know what I mean?"

It affected his car insurance and job applications for starters. "...It cost me, uh, thousands you know, thousands, I'm in the thousands and I'm not done paying it."

Now 18, "Andrew" is trying to put his past behind him, but it's not going away without a fight. Through his public defender, "Andrew" learned that Pima County has a process, for getting juvenile records erased. A person with a juvenile record first has to apply. "I don't want it burning on me for life, following me around you know, so I was stoked and jumped on it ASAP."

Marissa Sites, a former Pima County public defender says, "It's really up to the court to grant the request." Sites has seen criminal pasts haunt people, young adults burned by childhood choices. "They have dreams, and those dreams do change though, so it's very important, I think, for them to get their record cleared up as much as they can."

Some dreams require a license. Some examples are a nurse, doctor, or lawyer. A person with a juvenile record can petition the court to "set aside" their offense. So your record still exists, but it's treated as if it never happened. One can also ask the court for a "destruction of records," which would delete all paper proof, and your name, from the computer system. Also, with a felony an applicant would need a "restoration of civil rights" to have a firearm at age 18 or beyond. Usually, applicants put in for all three, but it's the judge who decides which are granted, if any.

Marissa Sites adds that, "they may face serious challenges in terms of getting a job, going to college, getting into the military." Staff Sergeant Fernando Gonzalez says "we're looking at everything they've done since the day they were born basically." You can't join the military if you can't carry a gun. The army may also turn applicants away with records consisting of possession of drugs or paraphernalia, trespassing, criminal damage, assault, battery, domestic violence, even ear gauges and visible tattoos or branding.

Staff Sergeant Gonzalez adds that this is "because ultimately we're seeking the most highly qualified applicant for enlistment in order to maintain a high quality army."

"It's all coming back to bite me in the butt, you know" says "Andrew." He's an artist and will need loans for art school. He's still waiting to hear what will happen with his juvenile record. Andrew says to "just get it done, it helps you in the long run you know, it doesn't help you to just not take care of whatever has happened in the past."

"Andrew" should hear back on his application later this month, or early next month. He tells Kristi's Kids that if he's denied, he'll file an appeal.

If you need to take care of a juvenile record please get in touch with the Pima County Juvenile Court at Below is a breakdown of how many records have been destroyed over the last five years.

If there's a story you'd like us to investigate, just send an email to

Destruction of juvenile records
Source: Pima County Juvenile Court

671 Requested
560 Granted

668 Requested
527 Granted

696 Requested
564 Granted

623 Requested
515 Granted

519 Requested
431 Granted


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