Youthful juvenile offenders who were convicted of simple possession of certain drugs may be able to expunge their conviction records. (18 U.S.C. § 3607(c).) You must meet these personal requirements:
Age. You must have been younger than 21 years old on the date of the offense.
First offender. This was your first offense for violating any state or federal law concerning controlled substances; and you have not utilized this record-sealing remedy before.
If you were convicted of possession of certain illegal drugs and were 21 years old or older on the date of the conviction, see Dismissing (or “Sealing”) a Federal Record for Drug Possession, for more information.
If you have a federal conviction that does not involve possession of small amounts of drugs, and would like to know whether you can expunge the arrest or conviction record, see Sealing a Federal Adult Criminal Record.
Types of Cases that Qualify
If you meet the requirements described above, you may qualify for an expungement if your case meets these requirements:
Certain drugs. The conviction was for drugs and chemical compounds that include, among others, marijuana, cocaine and cocaine-based drugs, heroin, and methamphetamines.
Circumstances of your illegal possession. The drugs were illegally possessed by you, but were not given to you by a licensed physician in the course of his or her professional practice, nor did you get them with a phony prescription.
Amount. You had “simple possession” of the drugs, which means in this context that you did not have large amounts for sale.
Disposition of Your Case
Finally, you will qualify for an expungement order if your case proceeded along these lines:
Guilty. You were found guilty, but the judge suspended entry of the judgment of conviction.
Probation. You were placed on probation for up to one year and you completed probation successfully.
Dismissal of the case. At the end of your period of probation, you were brought back to court and the case against you was dismissed.
Getting Your Record Expunged
If you meet the criteria described above, you may apply to the court that heard your case for an order expunging your record. You’ll need to file an application with the clerk of the court and ask for a hearing.
The Benefits of Expunging a Juvenile Record
An order expunging a juvenile record as described here allows you to say “Nothing happened” when asked about this event in your past. When you say “No,” you may not be convicted of perjury, false swearing, or making a false statement when asked about this incident. Nor can it be used to increase your punishment for a subsequent crime, but it may be considered by the Bureau of Customs and Immigration Services if you are involved in an exclusion or deportation proceeding, and it may be considered if necessary during the course of a bona fide criminal investigation by the government.
Getting Legal Help
Although the criteria for expunging a juvenile drug record as described here is fairly straightforward, you will probably need the help of an attorney, who can confirm your qualifications and draft the application you’ll need to file. Be sure to engage an experienced criminal defense attorney who regularly practices in the federal district court where your conviction occurred.