Experienced Legal Advocacy in Florida

Are Florida Juvenile Criminal Records Really Confidential, and Are They Permanent?

When a person under the age of 18 is arrested for an offense as a juvenile, records of the Department of Juvenile Justice, Court files, and other records of public agencies are considered confidential under Fla. Stat. § 985.04.  However, if the minor is charged or convicted of a felony whether prosecuted in adult or juvenile court, the following information is not confidential:

  1. The name of the child,
  2. The address of the child,
  3. The photograph of the child, and
  4. The arrest report.

It is up to the agency of the State of Florida whether this exempt information is published electronically.

Furthermore, if a child is arrested for a felony offense, or a prosecutor charges a child with a felony, not only is the above information available to the public, but the superintendent of the school the child attends must be notified, and within 48 hours the principal, teachers, other personnel who have direct supervision of the child, and also bus driver’s of the child must also be notified.

With everyone being notified of what most people believe to be confidential records, what can a child do to maintain privacy for what may well be a “youthful indiscretion’?  Contact an Experienced Tampa Juvenile Attorney at Taracks & Associates for a Free Consultation at 813-281-2897.

During this Free Consultation we can discuss how the outcome of your child’s arrest can determine how fast the records can be sealed or expunged (destroyed).

For example, if we are able to convince the Court, the State Attorney or the Department of Juvenile Justice for your child to enter into one of the many diversion programs that are available to minors, there is a special provision under Fla. Stat. § 985.125, that allows for the expunction of the non-judicial record if the program is completed. This is referred to as “Prearrest or Postarrest Diversion Program”. 

This is a program for relatively minor offenses, and is run under the rules set by each police department.  Typically, this program is completed without even seeing an judge, but do not let the informal process cause you to not take this circumstance seriously.  For every diversion allowed by the police department, there is a police report that will remain on file, as well as details of the program requirements that if reviewed by others will clearly believe the youth committed a crime.

If a minor does have to go to court to answer to the charges, how long will these records be available to be viewed?  Fla. Stat. § 943.0515 provides the circumstances when the charge, outcome of the court case, and the criminal history record may be expunged automatically under the following circumstances:

  1. If the minor is classified as a serious/habitual offender, or is sent to a juvenile correctional facility, the records will be expunged 5 years after the minor turns 21.  This, however, does not apply to an adult who is charged with a forcible felony, in this case, the minor’s juvenile record is included in the adult court record, and can have s significant impact on the sentence of an adult charge.
  2. Minors not classified as serious/habitual offenders, or have not been committed to a juvenile correctional facility can have their records expunged 2 years after the minor reaches the age of 19.  This also, does not apply to an adult who is charged with a forcible felony, in this case, the minor’s juvenile record is included in the adult court record, and can have s significant impact on the sentence of an adult charge.
  3. A minor can also apply for an expungment of a record after turning 18, and before turning 21 when it has been more than 5 years from the date of the application that an offense has been committed.  The State Attorney must agree to the early expungment of a juvenile record.

It is important to note that any records regarding the prosecution of a minor as a Sexual Offender shall not be eligible for expungment.  Fla. Stat. §943.0435(1) (h).

Lastly, if your child charged by mistake, any non-judicial records (everything other than the Court File) can be administratively expunged pursuant to Fla. Stat. §943.0581.

The records of minors who are either charged or arrested have the potential to prohibit or at the very least make success as an adult much more difficult.  This often can occur to non-violent Youthful Indiscretions.  To those children and their concerned parents or guardians, there may be a way to keep those records from adversely affecting the youth’s future.

Call one of the Experienced Tampa Criminal Attorney’s at Taracks & Associates to schedule a Free Consultation at 813-281-2897, so that we can discuss how to keep these sensitive records from hindering your child’s future.

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