Under the DC Youth Rehabilitation Act, if a youth, defined as individual within the ages of 15-24, is deemed eligible under the Act and hence sentenced under the Act, upon completion of the sentence the conviction would be automatically vacated.
Moreover, sentences under the Youth Act are more geared toward probation rather than incarceration. That is, if the court determines that a youth offender would be better served by probation instead of incarceration, the court has the discretion and motivation to suspend the imposition of sentence and place the youth offender on probation.
The Statute generally requires the youth offender to perform not fewer than 90 hours of community service for a:
- District government agency,
- A nonprofit, or
- A community service organization,
The updated and new Youth Act, has an added provision which appears to clear a path to have a conviction vacated even when the sentence was not originally under the Youth Act.
Specifically, a youth offender — regardless of whether the youth offender was sentenced under the Youth Act – may upon successful completion of the probationary period or sentence of incarceration, supervised release, or parole, whichever is later, file a motion to have the youth offender’s conviction set aside under the Act.
The court may, in its discretion, set aside the conviction. The factors the court will balance and assess in determining of the Youth Offender’s conviction should be set aside are:
- The youth offender’s age at the time of the offense;
- The nature of the offense, including the extent of the youth offender’s role in the offense and whether and to what extent an adult was involved in the offense;
- Whether the youth offender was previously sentenced under this subchapter;
- The youth offender’s compliance with the rules of the facility to which the youth offender has been committed, and with supervision and pretrial release, if applicable;
- The youth offender’s current participation in rehabilitative District programs;
- The youth offender’s previous contacts with the juvenile and criminal justice systems;
- The youth offender’s family and community circumstances at the time of the offense, including any history of abuse, trauma, or involvement in the child welfare system;
- The youth offender’s ability to appreciate the risks and consequences of the youth offender’s conduct;
- Any reports of physical, mental, or psychiatric examinations of the youth offender conducted by licensed health care professionals;
- The youth offender’s use of controlled substances that are unlawful under District law; The youth offender’s capacity for rehabilitation;
- Any oral or written statement provided pursuant to § 23-1904 or 18 U.S.C. § 3771 by a victim of the offense, or by a family member of the victim if the victim is deceased; and
- Any other information the court deems relevant to its decision.
The new and updated Youth Act puts the emphasis on probation and community service rather than incarceration and creates a path to have a youth offender’s conviction set aside even if the offender was not sentenced originally under the Youth Act. It also requires the District to come up with community service programs to specifically benefit the youth offenders.
Another positive legislative step toward rehabilitation and restoring the criminal record rather than incarceration and permanent conviction.
Refer to our DC Criminal Lawyer page for more details on this subject as well as other criminal subjects.