JUVENILE LAW ENFORCEMENT RECORDS

Dallas Criminal Lawyer

Dallas Criminal Lawyer | Fort Worth Criminal Lawyer 

With rare exceptions, juvenile records and files maintained by law enforcement are confidential and may not be disclosed to the public.  This is keeping with one of the stated purposes of the Family Code: to remove, where appropriate, the taint of criminality from children who commit certain unlawful acts.  Law enforcement physical records and files convening a juvenile may not be disclosed to the pubic and must be:

  • Kept separate from adult files and records, where the information is maintained on paper or microfilm;
  • Accessible under controls that are separate and distinct from controls to access information concerning adults, where the information is maintained electronically in the same computer system as records or files relating to adults; and
  • Maintained on a local basis only and not sent to a central state or federal depository, except as provided by the laws pertaining to the Juvenile Justice Information System, the Local Juvenile Justice Information System, and the Statewide Juvenile Information and Case Management System.

Family Code Section 58.007(e) allows the child and the chid’s parents or guardian to inspect or copy law enforcement records and files of a child.  This provision enables parents to obtain information about their child’s conduct while also giving juveniles access to offense related information that may be needed for academic or employment purposes.

The Juvenile Justice Information System is a computerized database for juvenile justice information maintained by the Texas Department of Public Safety.  Information relating to juvenile arrests, prosecutions, adjudications and dispositions is sent to this state wide database.  Unlike records of adult cases in the DPS system, juvenile case records are not public and may be accessed only by criminal justice agencies specifically named by statute.

Confidentiality 

Juvenile records are generally confidential, but Family Code lists six exceptions to the general rule that juvenile law enforcement records and files may not e disclosed to the public.  Under Subsection(d), the law enforcement records of a former juvenile who has been transferred from the Texas Youth Commission to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) may be reansferred to a central state or federal depository for adult records on or after the date of the transfer.

The second reception allows a juvenile or criminal justice agency, a child, or the child’s parent or guardian to inspect or copy law enforcement records and files concerning juveniles.  Additionally, if a child has been reported as a missing person by  parent, guardian, or conservator, information about the child may be forwarded to and disseminated by the Texas Crime Information Center and the National Crime Information Center.

Limited information can be released by the juvenile court to the public about a child who is the subject of a directive to apprehend or an arrest warrant.  Additionally, the county juvenile board may create guidelines to authorize the juvenile probation department to release information contained in its records.  Even the  records of juveniles who are certified for trial as adults under Family Code Section 54.02 remain confidential.