Louisiana Court Records
What are Louisiana Juvenile Court Records?
In the State of Louisiana, juvenile cases can be heard in the Juvenile/Family, City, or District Courts. Typically, the Juvenile Courts have exclusive jurisdiction over these cases unless such courts do not exist then, depending on the parish, it can be under the jurisdiction of any of the aforementioned courts (La. Child. Code art. 302).. Juvenile cases may involve criminal (delinquency) charges or child protection matters and are handled according to the provisions of the state’s juvenile law. Louisiana Juvenile Court records are created when petitions or complaints are filed in the courts. Each record is maintained by the specific court in which it was created (La. Child. Code art. 411).. A juvenile record contains all pleadings, notices, dockets, recordings, motions, transcripts, court minutes, and other documents concerning a case.
What Information is Contained in a Louisiana Juvenile Record?
A Louisiana juvenile record may contain the following information:
- Identifying data of the subject of the record
- Youth’s name/alias(es)
- Prior criminal history
- Petition or complaint
- Social history records
- Court motions, findings, and orders
- Predisposition report
- Adjudication and disposition information
- Any other document filed during legal proceedings
What Cases are Heard by Louisiana Juvenile Courts?
Louisiana Juvenile/Family, City, and District Courts are responsible for hearing all legal matters concerning children or youths under the age of 17. These cases include:
- Juvenile traffic violations
- Child in Need of Care (CINC) cases
- Criminal neglect of family
- Juvenile delinquency
- Runaway cases
- Disputes involving non-support payments
- Families in Need of Services (FINS)
Who is Eligible to View Juvenile Records in Louisiana?
Juvenile records are confidential to the public in Louisiana and can only be accessed by court order. Typically, subjects of records, their counsels/legal representatives, and court-appointed special advocates (CASA) may review these records. However, under La. Child. Code art. 412 (D), these records may be released to certain parties in order to carry out functions and improve family and child services. These parties include:
- Other courts
- Department of Children and Family Services
- Child advocacy centers
- The Attorney General’s Office
- The local district attorney’s office
- Office of Juvenile Justice
- The Louisiana Department of Health
- The Department of Education or the juvenile’s local school
- Multidisciplinary investigative child abuse teams
- District public defenders or their representatives
The court may also release records under the following circumstances:
- To an adult person who is the subject of a record, or the attorney or legal representative of a minor who was party to a juvenile proceeding, excluding adoption proceedings
- To a crime victim, victim’s attorney, or designated family members
- When disclosure is required for an investigation or case, provided good cause is shown
Though access to juvenile records is restricted to the public, La. Child. Code art. 412 (B) permits individuals to examine non identifying information sans court order or examine confidential records/reports to gather non-identifying information such as statistics. Also, law enforcement agencies are permitted to release identifying data (name, age, photograph, or physical description) of a child who escaped from a juvenile detention center to the public.
How to Find Juvenile Records in Louisiana
To find a Louisiana Juvenile Court record, a person must petition the court where the case was heard. As this record is not public information, a petitioner will be required to state the reason for a request and the names of everyone who will have access to the information. The contact information and address of a court will be provided on the court’s official website. Some courts also provide request/submission procedures on their websites.
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 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 Lookup Louisiana Juvenile Records Online?
No, Louisiana Courts do not provide remote or online access to computerized juvenile records as these records are confidential and can only be examined upon approval of the court. Persons who want to inspect these records must petition the appropriate court.
Do Louisiana Juvenile Records Show up on Background Checks?
No, Louisiana juvenile records do not show up in background checks. La. Child. Code art. 412 (M), explicitly prohibits the availability of juvenile criminal records on State or local criminal background checks. Anyone who violates this law shall be penalized for constructive contempt of court under La. Child. Code art. 1509. Penalties include a fine of a certain amount or imprisonment for some time, or both, and vary based on the party who committed the crime, whether it was an adult, attorney, or a parent. However, it is possible to expunge juvenile records in Louisiana. The statutes outlining the procedures, grounds, and fees for juvenile expungement are La. Child. Code art. 918 through 925. Under these laws, the following juvenile record can be expunged or sealed:
- Records not involving delinquency adjudication. There is no waiting period to expunge these records
- Closed or dismissed juvenile cases that involved a finding of Families in Need of Services or adjudication for any offense that was not manslaughter, murder, kidnapping, armed robbery, or a registrable sex offense requiring registration.
- Cases involving adjudications of offenses such as manslaughter, murder, kidnapping, armed robbery, or a registrable sex offense, provided that at least five years have passed since the case was dismissed or closed. Also, that the petitioner has no convictions for any felony or misdemeanor with a firearm, or unresolved indictment or bill of information
Interested parties who meet these criteria may petition the court in writing by completing a Motion for Expungement or Sealing Form, which will be sent to other relevant public agencies. When none of these agencies object, the court will enter an order of expungement and all records will be destroyed. It should be noted, however, that case records involving adjudications after August 1, 2017, may be automatically expunged by the court. Further information on expungement procedures, including where to obtain court-specific forms, may be obtained from the applicable court. Some Juvenile Courts: Jefferson Parish and City of New Orleans Courts, provide this information on their official websites.
How Long are Juvenile Records Kept in Louisiana?
Louisiana law does not directly mention the length of time that juvenile records are kept or retained by the courts. The law only references the retention of records under Louisiana R. S. 44:36. According to this law, state agencies may create and submit their retention schedules to the State Archives for approval. Agencies whose schedules have not been approved are required to keep their records for at least 3 years from the date of the record’s creation.