they won't keep you out for telling the truth,
Yes they can.
Call me old fashioned, but I believe juvenile records are sealed for a reason and should be respected. JSIA.
i agree with you that sealed juvi recs should absolutely stay sealed.
that said, i still think there is a strong argument for disclosing the info voluntarily.
first, our system is imperfect, and if the recs don't stay sealed for some reason, then i doubt bar/adcomms will accept an ignorance plea on the part of the OP. second, in this case, an incident that resulted in probation and community service at least 18 years ago is highly unlikely to keep the OP out. thirdly, we are applying to a profession that bases itself on the whole truth, and while it is a personal decision to make, the whole truth is something to consider.
lily, you are right, they can keep someone out for telling the truth, but i think they won't, at least not in this case. and i say this with the utmost respect, having read many of your posts and liking what i read.
lastly, mitch - if you really want to hear it from the horse's mouth, call the admissions office anonymously and ask them for their advice.
Mobo's posted the best advice. And this deserves a bump anyway; I'm sure many folks wonder about juve records.
Lily may be mistaken regarding her understanding of "sealed". Juve records are sealed from public view, but they can be accessed for a C&F review. It is best to disclose All arrests and All convictions to All schools that one applies. (Believe me, I have investigated this through many schools and many states.)