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Juveniled Justice System Structure & Process
Jurisdictional Boundaries
Q: Are delinquency hearings confidential?
A: In most states, delinquency hearings are open contingent on judicial discretion or age/offense restrictions.

Confidentiality of juvenile delinquency hearings, 2011

State Open with specified
age/offense restrictions
Presumptively open* Presumptively closed Open with no restrictions
Number of states 20 15 13 3
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
District of Columbia
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming

Notes: Table information is as of the end of the 2011 legislative session.
*For presumptively open hearings, the judge has discretion to close the hearing on a good showing.

  • In 20 jurisdictions, juvenile delinquency hearings are open with specified age and offense restrictions that may act to close or open hearings. For example, in Delaware, all proceedings before the Family Court are private except for those the court considers in the public interest; proceedings in a felony case are always open to the public as well as class A misdemeanors for juveniles between 13 and 17.
  • In 15 jurisdictions, juvenile delinquency hearings are presumptively open and a judge has discretion to close them on a good showing. For example, in Colorado, the general public is only excluded from a hearing if the court determines it is in the best interest of the child or the community to close the hearings and allow only those with an interest in the case to attend.
  • In 3 jurisdictions - Arkansas, Nebraska and Oregon - juvenile delinquency hearings are open with no restrictions.
  • In 13 jurisdictions, juvenile delinquency hearings are presumptively closed. For example, in Alabama, the general public is excluded from delinquency hearings and only the parties, their attorneys, witnesses and other persons requested by a party are admitted.

Internet citation: OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book. Online. Available: http://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/structure_process/qa04125.asp?qaDate=2011. Released on April 25, 2013.

 

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