Finding Juvenile Court Records

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In most states juvenile court records are confidential, and the public and media are denied access to them. However, in many states there are exceptions for records of cases that involve violent offenses or acts that would be felonies if they had been committed by an adult. Some of the states that embrace this policy are Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Vermont, and Washington.

In some states, such as Tennessee, if the juvenile is at least 14 years old and charged with a violent offense or crime, petitions are open to the public.  In Kansas, the situation is similar.  Court files are public if the juvenile was at least 14 years old at the time of the offense.  In Utah, if a minor 14 years of age or older is charged with an offense that would be a felony if it was committed by an adult, the court makes the records available to any person who requests them, including adjudication or disposition orders, and the delinquency history summary of the minor charged unless the records are closed by the court upon findings on the record for good cause.

Some statutes may permit certain people, such as the juvenile who is the subject of the proceeding, the juvenile’s attorney, the parent or guardian and people with a legitimate interest in the workings of the court or a particular case, to gain access to juvenile records. However, access is not automatic or unlimited, and under many statutes a court order first must be obtained.

There are also issues involving exposing the identity of the juvenile.  Usually, if the identity or a picture of the juvenile has been released to the public, there should be no problem if their identity is made public.  However, if the identity has not been released, it is important that you check with the court and determine whether it is acceptable to disclose the juvenile’s identity because you could end up in contempt of court.

There are other rules and guidelines that are involved in getting the records of a juvenile.  It is important that you check with he court in whatever state and county he juvenile’s records are in to make sure that you understand their rules and are able to proceed appropriately.

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