What are Indiana Juvenile Court Records?
The juvenile court system in Indiana reforms and administers punishments to adolescent offenders, without subjecting the offender to the same level of legal liabilities adult offenders face. Courts and juvenile justice officials maintain chronological records of underage run-ins with the justice system within the state. The availability of these records to the public depends on statutory provisions.
What Information Is Contained In An Indiana Juvenile Record?
As mentioned earlier, juvenile records are created by courts and officials in juvenile justice agencies in Indiana. The components of these records differ with the agency that created the record, but an individual can expect to see the following information in an Indiana juvenile record:
- Personal information (name, age, sex, & address)
- Names and addresses of attorneys
- Educational history
- Chronological case summaries
- Index entries
- Hearing transcripts
- Health professional report on mental health and substance use
- Fingerprints (authorized entities only)
- DNA records (authorized entities only)
Public requesters will also have access to the following information depending on the nature of the offense or allegation:
- The circumstances surrounding the offense or allegation, i.e., the time, location, and property involved.
- The identity of any victim
- Summary of apprehension method
- List of instrument(s) of physical force in the juvenile’s possession
- The identity of officers assigned to the investigation (except undercover agents)
Generally, Indiana juvenile records are confidential and statutorily protected from authorized disclosure per Section 31–39–1–2 of the Indiana Code. However, the law allows the disclosure of juvenile records where the juvenile adjudicated guilty waives public restrictions per Section 31–39–2–15.
What Cases Are Heard By Indiana Juvenile Courts?
Juvenile courts have jurisdiction over delinquent offense and status offense, as the Indiana Justice System explains. Generally, a delinquent offense refers to the criminal offense committed by adults such as shoplifting, battery, driving without a license, driving under influence, murder, sex offenses, burglary, and other violent or property crimes. This list is not exhaustive and more acts are enumerated in IC 31–37–4–3. Status offenses are offenses unique to juveniles by virtue of age. Some of these include truancy from school, curfew violations, underage drinking, fireworks violation, and running away from home.
Who Is Eligible To View Juvenile Records In Indiana?
Juvenile records are generally confidential except otherwise provided by statute or waiver of restriction. IC 31–39–2–2 through IC 31–39–4–14 outline entities who have access to juvenile records in Indiana. By statute, access may be default, limited access with court order, or granted under specific circumstances. Generally, the entities eligible to view juvenile records in Indiana include:
- The juvenile court judge and court staff
- Law enforcement agency head or officer
- The party and his/her legal counsel
- Prosecuting attorney and staff
- An authorized staff of the local office or caseworker
- An authorized staff of the department of child services
- The attorney for the department of child services
- An authorized staff of the department of correction
- An authorized staff of the department of child services ombudsman
- A person providing services to the juvenile or family
- Interested persons (with a court order)
- Researchers (with a court order)
- Victims or immediate family members (disclosure restricted to civil actions)
- A juvenile probation officer conducting a criminal history check
How to Find Juvenile Records in Indiana
Any requester who is not statutorily permitted to obtain juvenile records in Indiana must request and receive a court order from the court where the case was filed. Authorized entities do not need a court order to request juvenile records. For court records, the requester must find the court contact information on the court directory and submit a record request in person or by mail or via the public request form. For juvenile records that law enforcement maintains, request criminal history from the Indiana State Police.
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 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 the person resides in or was accused in.
Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
Can You Look Up Indiana Juvenile Records Online?
No. Only, eligible parties may access electronic juvenile records in Indiana. However, certain third-party service providers allow access to publicly available juvenile records online.
Do Indiana Juvenile Records Show Up On Background Checks?
Yes, juvenile records in Indiana show up on criminal history information during background checks unless such juvenile records have been sealed or expunged by court order.
How Long are Juvenile Records Kept in Indiana?
Indiana is not an automatic expungement state. Thus, juvenile records remain in the public domain for life unless the juvenile or his/her legal representative submits a request for expungement under IC 31–39–8.
To initiate an expungement proceeding, the petitioner must initiate the request in the juvenile court in the county of the original action. Expungement removes juvenile records from court files, the files of law enforcement agencies, and the files of any entity that has provided services to the juvenile under a court order. Further, pursuant to an expungement order, the record custodian shall move electronic records to a secure database sequestered from unauthorized access. Expungement procedures follow systematic instructions outlined in IC 31–39–8–3. In considering whether to grant the expungement petition, the juvenile court reviews several criteria. Some of these include:
- The best interests of the juvenile offender;
- The age at the time of the offense;
- The nature of the allegations or offense;
- The existence of an informal adjustment or an adjudication;
- Criminal history as an adult;
- Current mental health issues; and,
- The implications of the expungement on public rights to access the records