How should someone answer on an application if they were arrested for stealing under $25 as a 13 year old?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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How should someone answer on an application if they were arrested for stealing under $25 as a 13 year old?

I teach a career class and my student confided that she had been arrested for stealing less than 25 when she was 13. She’s never been in any other trouble, and she wants to start applying for jobs this summer. She wants to know how to best handle the situation.

Asked on March 3, 2016 under Criminal Law, Texas


B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If she was arrested when she was 13, then she was a juvenile... which is actually handled as a quasi-civil-criminal matter in Texas.  They are also sealed by statute.  So... if she is applying for regular jobs (non-government), she can honestly say that she was never convicted or arrested... because the arrest should not be available to others and juveniles are not convicted in Texas unless they are certified as adults.  I doubt she was adjudicated over $25.00. 
The caveat here is non-government jobs.  Some government agencies do have access to these records... but again... she can honestly say she was not convicted because of the nature of juvenile cases.  It's not a conviction until they are transferred and handled by the adult system. 
If she wants to know what will show up on her history to most employers, she needs to go to the Texas DPS web site and run a criminal history search on herself.  They are very inexpensive--- under $15.... and she'll see that it doesn't pop up.  If... for some reason her juvenile history does appear, she needs to contact the country or district clerk and find out why they have not sealed her juvenile records as required by law.  Some will do a 'major ooops..' and fix the reporting error.  If they won't fix it, then she may need to obtain the assistance of any attorney. 

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