Youth are known for making mistakes. Sometimes, it’s because of peer pressure. Sometimes, it’s because a youth doesn’t understand the consequences of their choices. Sometimes, a teenager is simply bored and has nothing better to do. Other times, young people can live in a bad neighborhood and joining a gang is a “normal” part of growing up in the area where they live, especially when they don’t have a father figure. Regardless of the “reasons” behind juvenile crime, one thing is for sure: the Texas criminal justice system aims towards rehabilitation rather than punishment of youth who break the law. Fortunately, Section 58.003 of the Texas Family Code allows for the sealing of juvenile records. In fact, this process is referred to as “automatic sealing.” Meaning, the requirement to file an application or petition to seal the juvenile records was eliminated, providing the juvenile meets certain criteria. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), the agency notifies “the juvenile probation department when a juvenile record maintained by DPS may be eligible for automatic sealing.” What’s more, Section 58.203 of the Texas Family Code restricts access to specific types of juvenile records. Under Sect. 58.203 of the Family Code, information relating to a juvenile case is subject to restricted access if:
- The youth at least 17-years-of-age,
- The case did not “include conduct resulting in determinate sentence proceedings in juvenile court under Section 53.045, and
- The juvenile’s case was not “certified for trial in criminal court.”
If restricted access is granted to a juvenile’s records, DPS cannot disclose the existence of the person’s records, nor can it provide any information in response to any inquiries from the following:
- A criminal justice agency
- A juvenile justice agency
- A law enforcement agency
- A governmental agency
- Any other individual, entity, or organization
However, DPS may permit access to a person’s juvenile records if it is: 1) a criminal justice agency that requests access for criminal justice purposes, or 2) for a purpose of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department.
Need a Plano criminal defense attorney to assist you with a juvenile case? Contact our firm at once to meet with a skilled member of our defense team.