juvenile recordsMaintaining the confidentiality of juvenile records is an important function of the juvenile justice system.  There are two areas within the Justice System where confidentiality of records is important: 1) confidentiality of criminal records (where the individual was alleged to have or was convicted of or pled to have committed a crime) and 2) confidentiality of records in dependency cases (CPS/DES) where the child is removed from a family member and a court proceeding ensues.  Keeping these records confidential allows troubled youths or young individuals who happen to have an unfortunate opportunity rebuild their lives and become productive citizens in the future without the fear of their past or their family’s mistakes interfering in their future success.

What Are Juvenile Records?

Any record pertaining to an individual involved in a dependency case (Child Protective Services/Department of Economic Security) or pertaining to a criminal matter including criminal detention, arrest, or the plea or conviction of a juvenile aged 10 to 17 is considered a juvenile record.  These records generally, will not include motor vehicle or municipal court records, unless those cases where referred to the juvenile court, and the record will not be sealed unless the individuals’ attorney or the individual moves to expunge the record.  It will also not include child witness statements or those records pertaining to child victims.

Who Maintains These Records?

Juvenile records can be created and maintained confidential in a number of locations depending upon the details of the case, the location of the crime, and the sentencing involved. Each agency and department is responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of juvenile records. Typically, these records may be found in the local law enforcement agency which initially made the arrest, the juvenile clerk’s office and the juvenile court hearing the case, the local juvenile probation department, the local juvenile prosecutor, and any juvenile detention or correction facility.

What is Confidentiality?

Confidentiality of juvenile records means that these records will not be shared with the general public and without a court order, the records will not be disclosed except to those who absolutely need them. Many individuals believe that confidentiality is all encompassing, but it is not, and they fail to realize exactly what confidentiality entails.  Confidentiality does not mean that these records are sealed and may never be accessed by other agencies. What it does mean is that these records are governed by individual codes of law and that access is limited to certain parties. What the law does provide for in both Texas and Arizona, is that only certain agencies and individuals can gain access to these records when legally applicable. Records may be accessed by the attorney for the child, the juvenile judge, juvenile probation officers, treatment facilities providing care for the child, and various state’s Department of Criminal Justice including the Attorney Genera;’s office, CPS/and the Department of Economic Security.  Records may also be made available to the Federal Bureau of Investigations. Therefore, if the individual themselves, breaches that confidentiality, the law can only go so far to protect them.  If an individual wishes to access records, most inquiries are made as an open records request under the Public Information Act are denied.

The law firm of Goldstein & Scopellite, PC has offices in Dallas, Texas and Tucson, Arizona. Goldstein & Scopellite, PC was established in 2002. For more information regarding juvenile proceedings, juvenile defense or obtaining juvenile records, see our local listing in D Magazine or visit our websites at www.lawyersdallas.com and www.lawyers-tucson.com.

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