U.S. Department of Justice, Office Of Justice Programs, Innovation - Partnerships - Safer Neighborhoods
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), Serving Children, Families, and Communities
OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book logo jump over products navigation bar
OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book logoAbout SSBFrequently Asked QuestionsPublicationsData Analysis ToolsNational Data SetsOther ResourcesAsk a Question
Juvenile Population Characteristics
Juveniles as Victims
Juveniles as Offenders
Juvenile Justice System Structure & Process
Overview
Related FAQs
Related Publications
Related Links
Case Flow Diagram
Law Enforcement & Juvenile Crime
Juveniles in Court
Juveniles on Probation
Juveniles in Corrections
Juvenile Reentry & Aftercare
Special Topics
Data Snapshot
Statistical Briefing Book Home

OJJDP logo

Printer-priendlyPrinter-friendly
Juveniled Justice System Structure & Process
Organization & Administration of Delinquency Services
Q: How do states vary in the circumstances under which juvenile records can be unsealed?
A: While states differ greatly in their processes for unsealing juvenile court records, most states have procedures that provide for the unsealing of juvenile court records after the commission of a specified offense or by court order.

Unsealing of juvenile court records, 2012

State Subsequent
Offense
Specified
Offense
Court order Other No Procedure
to Unseal
Number of states 13 32 27 8 2
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
  • Typically, juvenile court records, except those for serious and/or violent offenses, are sealed. This means that they are not accessible to the general public. Records can also be expunged (deemed to have never existed) or actually destroyed. Rhode Island is the only state that does not have procedures that provide for the sealing, expungement, or destruction of juvenile court records.
  • While most states have procedures for sealing juvenile records, the process may not be permanent. Certain circumstances, such as a specified offense or a court order, provide for the unsealing of court records. A few states allow for sealed records to be viewed by specified persons or for specified reasons.
  • In Arizona, records can be kept for research purposes.
  • In Hawaii, juvenile records can be expunged only if no charges were filed or the juvenile was not referred to court.
  • In Illinois, certain parties can gain access to sealed records pursuant to their official duties, including judges, probation officers, attorneys, and law enforcement.
  • In Indiana, the destroyed records are given to the person to whom the records pertain.
  • In Kansas, sealed records are still available for a litany of reasons such as employment and background checks.
  • In Minnesota, sealed records are still available for a background check and an agency may petition to keep records open for public safety purposes.
  • In Nebraska, sealed records can be inspected for a number of reasons including parental support and sentencing investigations.
  • In Nevada, sealed records can be inspected upon petition by the person who the records concern, by an agency or by a district attorney; records pertaining to a juvenile sex offender can not be sealed.

Internet citation: OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book. Online. Available: https://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/structure_process/qa04211.asp?qaDate=2012. Released on September 24, 2013.

 

USA.gov | Privacy | Policies & Disclaimers | FOIA | Site Map | Ask a Question | OJJDP Home
A component of the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice