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What are New York Juvenile Court Records?

In New York, children between the ages of 7 and 17 can be brought to court if they are accused of committing an act which would be a crime if they were an adult. The alleged crime committed is known as a delinquent act. Most times, court cases regarding juvenile delinquents are heard in the Family Court. Minor offenders are also classified into three groups; juvenile delinquent, juvenile offender, and adolescent offender.

Juvenile court cases are heard in the Family Court. The court, through the department of social services and New York State Office of Children and Family Services, decides if a juvenile delinquent needs supervision, treatment, or placement with responsible adults. Teenagers between ages 13 to 15 who commit a violent felony offense are regarded as juvenile offenders. The Youth division of the Supreme Court or the County Court handles such cases. If the offender is found guilty after trial, a less severe punishment will be arranged. Adolescent offenders are minors between 16 to 17 years of age who are charged with a felony.

Additionally, the Youth Division of the Supreme Court or a county court manages such cases. Still, the case may later be moved to the Family Court, where the offender is considered a juvenile delinquent and is eligible for services and programs meant for juvenile delinquents. On the whole, 16 and 17-year-olds found guilty of vehicular and traffic offenses under the law are considered adults and are required to face the penalties.

Juvenile records are prepared and managed by the New York Unified Court System. Files relating to a juvenile's arrest, trials, and disposition are kept separate from those of adults and are not public records, according to New York Family Court Act Section 381.3.

What Information is Contained in a New York Juvenile Record?

New York juvenile records describe the documents and evidence filed against youth or children to prove their guilt during a trial, as stated in the New York Criminal Procedure Law 720.15. In respect to the New York Family Court Act Session 381.3, records relating to a juvenile's offense cannot be disclosed to the public. Therefore, details contained in it are not known.

What Cases are Heard by New York Juvenile Courts?

The various cases handled by the New York juvenile courts are;

  • Juvenile Delinquency Cases: These are cases that involve juveniles who have committed an act that will be treated as a crime if committed by an adult. The judgment in this type of case includes conditional discharge for up to 1 year; probation for up to 2 years; treatment or confinement; placement of the offender in a group home, foster home or in the custody of a responsible relative or guardian for 18 months; community service or restitution. If the respondent is not found guilty, the case will be dismissed.
  • Child Neglect/Abuse Cases: The New York Family Courts can vindicate juveniles who are being abused or neglected by their parents or legal guardians. The Parents' Guide to New York State Child Abuse and Neglect Laws gives an insight into situations that might fall into this class. The judge holds the authority to decide what the outcome of the trial is.
  • Status Offence Cases: These are violations that pertain to juveniles/minors, and examples of such offenses include; underage drinking, truancy, curfew violation, and not being governable in general. Status Offence cases are treated concerning the misdeed, and judgment may vary.

Who is Eligible to View Juvenile Records in New York

Although juvenile records are confidential and not accessible by the public, some exceptions exist in line with the New York Statutes. Under the provision of N.Y. Crim. Proc. § 720.35, N.Y. Fam. Ct. Act § 381.3, and N.Y. Fam. Ct. Act § 380.1, the following are eligible to view juvenile records in the State of New York;

  • Institutions where the juvenile is committed, such as educational facilities.
  • Law enforcement agencies.
  • The Division of Parole and Probation.
  • The judge in charge of the case.
  • The minor's parent or guardian.
  • The juvenile who is the respondent in the case.
  • The Attorney General.
  • The school where the minor is enrolled. Notice of the judgment of the juvenile's case received by the school will be kept separate from the regular school records and should be destroyed when the juvenile offender leaves the school.
  • The Commissioner of Mental Health in New York.
  • The case review panel.
  • The Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities commissioner.

However, persons or institutions listed (except the judge, attorney general, and case review panel), can only be granted permission to obtain documents that have originated from juvenile trials when they present a signed court order.

How to Find Juvenile Records in New York

Juvenile records in New York can only be accessed when eligible individuals present a court order. To get a court order, prepare a written request to the Clerk of the Family Court describing the specific record or case number, and stating the reasons why copies of the document should be revealed. If the grounds to access juvenile records are reasonable, the court may then consider the application. The Clerk of Court may charge some fees to make copies of the records.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

Can you Lookup New York Juvenile Records Online?

No, New York juvenile records are not accessible online. All documents relating to juvenile cases and arrests are sealed automatically. However, juvenile records can be obtained physically by eligible persons upon the provision of court permission.

Do New York Juvenile Records Show up on Background Checks?

In most cases, juvenile records are not added to a person's criminal history information, and as such, may not appear during background checks, since they are sealed instantly. A unique situation where files resulting from juvenile cases may arise is when the respondent applies for a job that involves carrying munitions.

How Long are Juvenile Records Kept in New York?

According to the statutes governing juvenile records, Family Courts may destroy juvenile records when the court has ruled in favor of the juvenile, and the matter has been terminated. On the other hand, if the minor has proven guilty, the record may be sealed. Sealing a juvenile record means that the evidence and documents relating to the offense committed by the minor are still preserved, but will not be regarded as a public record. New York juvenile records may be sealed forever.

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