2021 Georgia Code
Title 15 - Courts
Chapter 11 - Juvenile Code
Article 9 - Access to Hearings and Records
§ 15-11-703. Use of Disposition and Evidence

Universal Citation: GA Code § 15-11-703 (2021)

Except as provided in subsection (d) of Code Section 24-6-609, the disposition of a child and evidence adduced in a hearing in the juvenile court shall not be used against such child in any proceeding in any court other than as provided in Code Section 16-15-9 or 24-4-418 or for a proceeding for delinquency or a child in need of services, whether before or after reaching 18 years of age, except in the establishment of conditions of bail, plea negotiations, and sentencing in criminal offenses; and, in such excepted cases, such records of dispositions and evidence shall be available to prosecuting attorneys, superior or state court judges, and the accused and may be used in the same manner as adult records. Whenever such record of disposition is filed in a superior or state court or admitted into evidence in a superior or state court proceeding, it shall be filed under seal.

(Code 1981, §15-11-703, enacted by Ga. L. 2013, p. 294, § 1-1/HB 242; Ga. L. 2016, p. 811, § 1/HB 874.)

Cross references.

- Authority of Department of Corrections to establish separate correctional institutions for the care of juvenile offenders, § 42-5-52.

Law reviews.

- For article discussing venue problems in juvenile court practice and suggesting solutions, see 23 Mercer L. Rev. 341 (1972). For article, "Evidence," see 27 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 1 (2011). For comment criticizing Davis v. Alaska, 415 U.S. 308, 94 S. Ct. 1105, 39 L. Ed. 2d 347 (1974), holding petitioner's right to confrontation was preeminent to state policy protecting anonymity of juvenile offenders, see 26 Mercer L. Rev. 343 (1974).

JUDICIAL DECISIONS

Editor's notes.

- In light of the similarity of the statutory provisions, decisions under former Code 1933, § 24A-2401, pre-2000 Code Section 15-11-38, and pre-2014 Code Section 15-11-79.1, which were subsequently repealed but were succeeded by provisions in this Code section, are included in the annotations for this Code section. See the Editor's notes at the beginning of the chapter.

Purpose.

- Former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-38 (see now O.C.G.A. § 15-11-703) was designed to protect children from disclosure relating to matters resulting from and produced in juvenile hearings, not to insulate a child from the effect of testimony of those investigating crimes. Hayward v. Ramick, 248 Ga. 841, 285 S.E.2d 697 (1982) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-38).

Finding delinquent act.

- Juvenile court may find that any act designated a crime under the law is a delinquent act when committed by a juvenile. In order to do this, it is not necessary that the juvenile be considered or found guilty of a crime. K.M.S. v. State, 129 Ga. App. 683, 200 S.E.2d 916 (1973) (decided under former Code 1933, § 24A-2401); T.L.T. v. State, 133 Ga. App. 895, 212 S.E.2d 650 (1975);(decided under former Code 1933, § 24A-2401).

Adjudication of delinquency when child has not attained 13 years.

- Juvenile court may adjudicate a child a delinquent based upon a petition alleging that the child committed an act designated a crime under Georgia law, when the child has not yet attained the age of 13 years. K.M.S. v. State, 129 Ga. App. 683, 200 S.E.2d 916 (1973) (decided under former Code 1933, § 24A-2401).

Due process must be adhered to in juvenile court proceedings.

- While cases in the juvenile court are not criminal proceedings, due process must always be scrupulously adhered to. D.P. v. State, 129 Ga. App. 680, 200 S.E.2d 499 (1973) (decided under former Code 1933, § 24A-2401).

Section not bar to all evidence adduced at hearing.

- Former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-38 (see now O.C.G.A. § 15-11-703) bared use only of such evidence as would disclose the "disposition of a child" at a juvenile hearing and did not bar introduction of testimony regarding the juvenile's prior commission of a rape if such evidence was used to show lustful disposition and for corroboration purposes. Houser v. State, 173 Ga. App. 378, 326 S.E.2d 513 (1985) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-38).

Authority for use of juvenile court record in dispositional proceedings.

- Former Code 1933, §§ 24A-2401 and 27-2702 (see now O.C.G.A. §§ 15-11-703 and42-8-34), construed in pari materia, clearly authorized the use of the juvenile court record in dispositional proceedings after conviction of a felony for the purposes of a presentence investigation and report. Jones v. State, 129 Ga. App. 623, 200 S.E.2d 487 (1973) (decided under former Code 1933, § 24A-2401).

Evidence of incident occurring when defendant was a juvenile.

- Trial court did not err when the court denied the defendant's motion for new trial on the basis that the state proffered similar transaction evidence of an incident that occurred when the defendant was a juvenile because the trial court offered to give a curative instruction to the jury, but trial counsel refused the curative instruction citing "strategy" as counsel's reasons; the trial court admonished the witness not to make any references to the juvenile court proceeding. Kitchens v. State, 289 Ga. 242, 710 S.E.2d 551 (2011) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-79.1)

Use of materials produced during investigation.

- In the prosecution of a felony murder case, the admission of testimony of an investigating officer relating to a statement made by the defendant during a juvenile investigation was not error since the officer's testimony did not disclose the "disposition of a child" nor was the testimony "evidence adduced in a hearing in juvenile court." Waugh v. State, 263 Ga. 691, 437 S.E.2d 297 (1993), cert. denied, 511 U.S. 1090, 114 S. Ct. 1850, 128 L. Ed. 2d 474 (1994) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-38).

Use of records during sentencing.

- Juvenile records may be introduced during the sentencing phase of a trial. Burrell v. State, 258 Ga. 841, 376 S.E.2d 184 (1989) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-38).

Out-of-state convictions for acts committed while the defendant was a juvenile could not be used as prior felony convictions for purposes of recidivist sentencing under O.C.G.A. § 17-10-7 because the defendant would not have been convicted of those felonies in this state, but would have been adjudicated delinquent. Miller v. State, 231 Ga. App. 869, 501 S.E.2d 42 (1998) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-38).

Because juvenile court dispositions could be used in sentencing in felony offenses, and the records of dispositions and evidence were available to district attorneys, superior court judges, and the accused and could be used in the same manner as adult records, the trial court properly considered the defendant's juvenile court records in sentencing the defendant. Taylor v. State, 331 Ga. App. 577, 771 S.E.2d 224 (2015)(decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-79.1)

Use of adjudications to determine probation.

- It is not unconstitutional to use juvenile-court adjudications to determine whether subsequent felony conviction should be probated. Brawner v. State, 250 Ga. 125, 296 S.E.2d 551 (1982) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-38).

Appeal of adjudication after disposition order expired was not moot.

- Juvenile who appealed the juvenile's adjudication of delinquency after the disposition order had expired was not required to show adverse collateral consequences in the record in order to avoid a finding of mootness; such consequences were presumed based on the uses to which a prior adjudication of delinquency could be put. In the Interest of M. F., 305 Ga. 820, 828 S.E.2d 350 (2019).

OPINIONS OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

Editor's notes.

- In light of the similarity of the statutory provisions, opinions under pre-2000 Code Section 15-11-38, which was subsequently repealed but was succeeded by provisions in this Code section, are included in the annotations for this Code section.

Code section to be considered in deciding whether to permit inspection.

- In determining whether to permit inspection of juvenile court records, a juvenile court judge should take former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-38 (see now O.C.G.A. § 15-11-703) into account and determine whether the person seeking inspection of an individual's juvenile court records would be permitted to use those records "against" the individuals whose juvenile court records are sought. 1981 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U81-34 (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-38).

Psychological tests results may be used in later proceedings.

- Results of psychological tests administered to juveniles appearing in the juvenile court may be computerized and used in later court proceedings, if appropriate safeguards to protect the confidentiality of the records are undertaken. 1983 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U83-25 (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-38).

Access to records by superior court judge.

- Superior court judge is not entitled to have access to juvenile court records relating to a defendant before the judge in any hearing or proceeding prior to the defendant's conviction of a felony. 1986 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U86-36 (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-38).

RESEARCH REFERENCES

Am. Jur. 2d.

- 47 Am. Jur. 2d, Juvenile Courts and Delinquent and Dependent Children, §§ 56 et seq., 110 et seq.

C.J.S.

- 43 C.J.S., Infants, § 224 et seq.

U.L.A.

- Uniform Juvenile Court Act (U.L.A.) § 33.

ALR.

- Use of judgment in prior juvenile court proceeding to impeach credibility of witness, 63 A.L.R.3d 1112.

Consideration of accused's juvenile court record in sentencing for offense committed as adult, 64 A.L.R.3d 1291.

Applicability of double jeopardy to juvenile court proceedings, 5 A.L.R.4th 234.

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