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What are Pennsylvania Juvenile Court Records?

In Pennsylvania, Juvenile Court Records are documents that contain information on a minor's involvement with the juvenile justice system as well as the relevant court documents from juvenile hearings and trials. The Clerk of Juvenile Court or the Juvenile Probation Officer creates, maintains, and disseminates juvenile records in the jurisdiction where the case was filed. Besides, publicly available juvenile court records can be accessed on CourtRecords.Us.

What Information is contained in a Pennsylvania Juvenile Record?

Generally, there are two types of juvenile records in Pennsylvania. These records include documents created by the court and law enforcement. Typical information in a Pennsylvania Juvenile Record includes:

  • Name of the juvenile offender
  • Date of birth
  • Last known home address
  • School information
  • Names and addresses of all attorneys
  • Court notes & summaries
  • Hearing transcripts
  • Evidence admitted by the court
  • Adjudication of allegation
  • Final disposition
  • Arrest information
  • Criminal charges
  • Behavioral health evaluations
  • Drug and alcohol evaluations
  • Notes from conversations (except protected by attorney-client privilege)
  • Progress reports from placements
  • Photograph (if adjudicated delinquent)
  • Fingerprints (if adjudicated delinquent)
  • DNA records (if adjudicated delinquent)

What Cases do Pennsylvania Juvenile Courts hear?

Under the Pennsylvania Juvenile Act, Pennsylvania Juvenile Courts have jurisdiction over all cases that involve offenders between the ages of 10 and 18 years. Offenses committed by individuals in this age range are considered delinquent acts rather than crimes. Furthermore, most juvenile hearings are not open to the public and do not involve a jury. Also, the presiding judge or hearing master adjudicates offenders as delinquent rather than pronounce them guilty. Common juvenile cases in Pennsylvania involve:

  • Drug law violation
  • Liquor law violation
  • Weapon-related offenses
  • DUI-related offenses
  • Forgery and alteration of official documents
  • Violent sex offenses such as forcible rape
  • Non-violent sex offenses
  • Robbery
  • Aggravated assault
  • Simple assault
  • Burglary
  • Arson
  • Vandalism
  • Motor vehicle theft
  • Criminal homicide
  • Manslaughter

Who is Eligible to View Juvenile Records in Pennsylvania?

Generally, the information in juvenile records is confidential. Under Rule 160 of the Juvenile Court Procedure, files are only accessible to the following parties:

  • The juvenile offender
  • The juvenile offender's attorney
  • The victim's attorney
  • Law enforcement officers of other jurisdictions (for official duties)
  • The Department of Corrections or institutions where the child is committed
  • The Parole Board or any supervising agency
  • Court personnel such as judges, clerks, and professional staff
  • Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts
  • State Sexual Offenders Assessment Board
  • School where the juvenile is enrolled
  • The legal designee of the above entities
  • Any person, agency, or department by order of a court

According to 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 6308(b), specific information in juvenile records is made public depending on the nature of the offense, age at the time of the crime, or national security. For example, juvenile records are made public if:

  • The offender was at least twelve years old at the time of committing a serious felony and an attempt or conspiracy to undertake such a felony
  • The juvenile offender committed any felony that requires open proceedings in § 8-3;
  • The juvenile offender had previously been adjudicated delinquent for any severe felony or is a repeat offender.

If the case is eligible for public inspection, the open document shall contain only the following information:

  • The juvenile's name
  • The juvenile's age
  • The juvenile's address
  • The offenses alleged in the juvenile's petition
  • Substantiated offenses
  • Case disposition

Otherwise, under 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 6307, members of the public who express a legitimate interest may only access detailed juvenile records if armed with a court order.

How to Find Juvenile Records in Pennsylvania

To obtain juvenile records in Pennsylvania, the requester must visit the juvenile court in the county where the case was filed. Likewise, the Pennsylvania State Police maintains and disseminates non-confidential juvenile records on its online portal. Requestors must download and complete an SP4-164 request form from the Help Section on the webpage. The search fee of $22.00 is payable via money order made to the Commonwealth of PA. The requester must enclose the completed form and money order in a self-addressed stamped envelope.

Direct requests to:

Pennsylvania State Police
Central Repository – 164
1800 Elmerton Avenue
Harrisburg, PA 17110-9758

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 look up Pennsylvania Juvenile Records Online?

No. Only, eligible parties involved in the case may access electronic juvenile records in Pennsylvania. Also, qualified searchers must visit the local courthouse to access juvenile records maintained on public terminals in the courthouse. However, certain third-party service providers allow access to publicly available juvenile records online.

Do Pennsylvania Juvenile Records show up on Background Checks?

Yes, juvenile records typically show up on background checks conducted by prospective employers, military recruiters, and the transportation department unless such documents have been sealed or expunged. However, the requester must present a court order authorizing the release of juvenile records even if the requester has a signed release from the juvenile.

The expungement or removal of juvenile records in Pennsylvania varies from county to county. Pursuant to 18 Pa. Cons. Section § 9123, individuals involved, their attorneys, or parents may petition the court to expunge juvenile records. However, certain offenses and adjudications that occurred after the individual turned 14 are not eligible for expungement. The court may also automatically expunge a juvenile's records. Regardless, individuals who wish to seal or expunge their juvenile records must meet the eligibility requirements under § 9123.

How Long are Juvenile Records Kept in Pennsylvania?

According to the Juvenile Court Procedure, most juvenile records in Pennsylvania remain accessible until the offender becomes an adult. After this, government agencies that are custodians of the record retain access until the party involved files a motion to expunge the juvenile records. However, the court may grant the petition to expunge juvenile records at any time if:

  • The allegation is not substantiated or is dismissed at trial
  • Six months have passed since terminating supervision under a consent decree, and no juvenile or criminal charges are pending

Likewise, upon discharged from Court supervision and according to Rule 631, the parties involved may file for expungement if:

  • Five years have elapsed;
  • The juvenile has no conviction or adjudicated delinquent for any felony or misdemeanor;
  • There are no pending court proceeding on such conviction or adjudication of delinquency;
  • The delinquent act is not an act precluded from expungement under Title 18 Pa. C.S. § 9123(a.1);
  • The prosecuting attorney for the Commonwealth consents to the expungement.
  • Criminal Records
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  • And More!