Juvenile Records

Who has a juvenile record in Texas?
Anyone who was taken into custody or referred to court for delinquent conduct, which is generally a class A or B misdemeanor, or any felony offense, or conduct in need of supervision (CINS), which is generally a Class C misdemeanor, conduct that would not be against the law if committed by an adult (such as drinking or running away), or certain specific offenses such as prostitution and "sexting," has a juvenile file or record.

How are juvenile records kept in Texas?
There are two ways that juvenile records are kept in Texas.  The first is records of a court and probation department, which includes records of both CINS and delinquent conduct.  The second is the records in the Juvenile Justice Information System (JJIS), which is a database maintained by the Texas Department of Public Safety.  Records related to arrests, prosecutions, adjudications, and dispositions for delinquent conduct are included in JJIS.

Who can access juvenile records?
While juvenile records are generally confidential, there are certain exceptions that allow police, prosecutors, probation officers, and other criminal and juvenile justice officials in Texas and elsewhere to have access.  The records may also be available to employers, educational institutions, licensing agencies, and other organizations when applying for employment or educational programs.  Treatment records (counseling, placement, drug treatment, etc.) are confidential, and access to them is much more limited.

What about sex offender records?
If you are required to register as a sex offender for an offense committed as a juvenile, you may have the right to have your records sealed after your obligation to register expires.  There are also legal proceedings available that may allow for reconsideration of your duty to register.

What is sealing of records?
Sealing of records is a process that allows a juvenile to have his or her records officially “sealed” so the records cannot be accessed by anyone.  The process for having records sealed depends on the offense committed and the action taken in court.

For juveniles who were placed on deferred prosecution supervision, whose offenses were dismissed, who were adjudicated with no disposition for a misdemeanor offense, or who were placed on court-ordered probation for a misdemeanor offense, records are sealed by the Juvenile Probation Department when the juveniles are 19 years of age.  For juveniles who are adjudicated with no disposition for a felony offense, who are placed on court-ordered probation for a felony offense or who are committed to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department for a felony offense, records may only be sealed by application.

A juvenile who was adjudicated for a felony, whether there was a disposition or not, must apply to the Juvenile Probation Department to have his or her records sealed.  The juvenile must be at least 18 or two years must have passed since supervision was completed.  This is also true for juveniles who were charged with misdemeanor offense but are not yet 19 years of age.

Upon request, the Juvenile Probation Department will prepare the application for the juvenile.  It must be signed by the juvenile and the signature must be notarized.  A copy of the application will be sent by the District Clerk's Office to every agency listed on the application as an entity that may possess records regarding the offense.  If one of the agencies challenges the sealing of records, a hearing will be held on a date and time included in the application.  However, if no agency challenges the sealing, an order to seal the records will be signed by a District Judge.

Once an order sealing records has been signed, the District Clerk's Office sends a copy of the order to all agencies listed on the order.  Those agencies are then required to acknowledge to the District Clerk's Office that the records have been destroyed, thus sealing the records.

What is expunction of records?
While convictions of class C misdemeanors in justice or municipal court are confidential if you have satisfied the judgment against you, the records still exist.  If you have only one conviction prior to your 17th birthday, you may be able to have that offense “expunged” or removed from your record.

Where can I get additional information?
Expunction:  Code of Criminal Procedure §§ 58.201 – 58.211
Sealing:  Texas Family Code § 58.253

Wharton County Juvenile Probation Department, 106 E. Milam Street, Wharton, Texas
Phone:  979-532-2465     FAX:  979-532-2571

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