Does a Summary Offense Appear on a Criminal Record?

By Roger Thorne
Criminal records, histories, crimes
Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Cliff

A criminal record is the record of a person's history with the criminal justice system. Depending on the jurisdiction, summary offenses may or may not appear on a person's criminal record.

Basics

Criminal histories contain the record of a person's criminal past. These records vary widely depending on jurisdiction, and there are no set standard as to the kinds of information they carry, how long that information remains and what information has to be displayed or released.

Summary Offenses

Sometimes referred to as petty offenses or infractions, summary offenses are crimes that are considered less serious than misdemeanors. They are punished by fines, and usually are handled summarily by a judge or magistrate.

Jurisdictions

In general, petty or summary offenses do not appear on a person's criminal record, though this is not always the case. Any time a person is involved in the criminal justice process, a record of that may or may not appear.

Juvenile

Juvenile criminal records are usually excluded from a criminal history. Juvenile records are not generally open to the public, and may only be viewed by those authorized by the court to see them.

Three Strikes

States that have adopted "three-strikes" laws do not count summary offenses in the three-strikes calculations. While these offenses may or may not appear on a person's criminal record, they are not counted by the court in determining the applicability of these laws.