2021 Georgia Code
Title 15 - Courts
Chapter 11 - Juvenile Code
Article 9 - Access to Hearings and Records
§ 15-11-708. Separation of Juvenile and Adult Records for Law Enforcement; Inspection; Limited Fingerprint Access

Universal Citation: GA Code § 15-11-708 (2021)
  1. Law enforcement records and files concerning a child shall be kept separate from the records and files of arrests of adults.
  2. Unless a charge of delinquency is transferred for criminal prosecution, the interest of national security requires, the case is one in which the general public may not be excluded from the hearings, or the court otherwise orders in the best interests of the child, the records and files shall not be open to public inspection nor shall their contents be disclosed to the public.
  3. Inspection of the records and files shall be permitted by:
    1. A juvenile court having a child before it in any proceeding;
    2. The attorney for a party to the proceedings, with the consent of the court;
    3. The officers of public institutions or agencies to whom a child is committed;
    4. Law enforcement officers and prosecuting attorneys of this state, the United States, or any other jurisdiction when necessary for the discharge of their official duties;
    5. A court in which a child is convicted of a criminal offense, for the purpose of a presentence report or other disposition proceeding;
    6. Officials of penal institutions and other penal facilities to which a child is committed; or
    7. A parole board in considering a child's parole or discharge or in exercising supervision over such child.
  4. The court shall allow authorized representatives of DJJ, the Governor's Office for Children and Families, the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, the Administrative Office of the Courts, and the Council of Juvenile Court Judges to inspect and copy law enforcement records for the purpose of obtaining statistics on children. Such data shall be used by the inspecting agency for official purposes and shall not be subject to release by such agency pursuant to Article 4 of Chapter 18 of Title 50, nor subject to subpoena.
  5. Access to fingerprint records submitted to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation shall be limited to the administration of criminal justice purposes.

(Code 1981, §15-11-708, enacted by Ga. L. 2013, p. 294, § 1-1/HB 242; Ga. L. 2015, p. 890, § 5/HB 263.)

Cross references.

- Juvenile Court records, Uniform Rules for the Juvenile Courts of Georgia, Rules 3.1 - 3.3.

Administrative Rules and Regulations.

- Completeness and accuracy of criminal justice information, Official Compilation of the Rules and Regulations of the State of Georgia, Georgia Crime Information Center Council, Practice and Procedure, Rule 140-2.03.

JUDICIAL DECISIONS

Editor's notes.

- In light of the similarity of the statutory provisions, decisions under former Code 1933, § 24A-3502, which was subsequently repealed but was 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.

Right to effective assistance of counsel and right to inspect.

- While former Code 1933, §§ 24A-2002 and 24A-2501 (see now O.C.G.A. §§ 15-11-19, and15-11-28) both required the consent of the court to inspect a juvenile's records and files, a juvenile's right to effective assistance of counsel limited the court's discretion to withhold such consent from counsel representing the juvenile in a "critically important" transfer proceeding under former Code 1933, § 24A-2501. R.S. v. State, 156 Ga. App. 460, 274 S.E.2d 810 (1980) (decided under former Code 1933, § 24A-3502).

Right to view records and files considered but not relied upon.

- Not only are a juvenile and the juvenile's counsel entitled to know what information in the juvenile's records and files the court relied upon in the juvenile court's adverse decision to transfer jurisdiction, but the juvenile and counsel are also entitled to view those records and files considered but not relied upon by the juvenile judge. R.S. v. State, 156 Ga. App. 460, 274 S.E.2d 810 (1980) (decided under former Code 1933, § 24A-3502).

Erroneous ruling if court limited access of defense counsel.

- If the court granted defense counsel's motion pursuant to former Code 1933, §§ 24A-2002 and 24A-2501 (see now O.C.G.A. §§ 15-11-19 and15-11-28) but limited access to only those files and records of appellant which would be "used against" the juvenile concerned at the transfer hearing, to the extent that appellant's counsel was not granted access to the files and records of appellant which were considered by the juvenile court in transferring jurisdiction, the ruling was erroneous. R.S. v. State, 156 Ga. App. 460, 274 S.E.2d 810 (1980) (decided under former Code 1933, § 24A-3502).

Effect of limited access to materials.

- While allowing counsel access to materials which will be "used against" a juvenile serves the defensive purpose of ensuring that any adverse material considered by the court will be subject to attack and refutation, it denies counsel the opportunity to examine, for the purpose of discovering and ensuring that proper and due consideration is given thereto, any material to be considered by the court which might serve as a "reasonable ground" for retaining, rather than transferring, jurisdiction. R.S. v. State, 156 Ga. App. 460, 274 S.E.2d 810 (1980) (decided under former Code 1933, § 24A-3502).

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 former Code 1933, § 24A-3502, and pre-2000 Code Section 15-11-59, 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.

Psychological test 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. § 15-11-59).

Consent of court needed for access by parole board.

- Consent of the court must be obtained on each individual to allow the State Board of Pardons and Paroles access to juvenile records, and if those records are sealed, the subject must petition the court to allow the board access to such records. 1978 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 78-76 (decided under former Code 1933, § 24A-3502).

Court records concerning juveniles prosecuted as adults.

- Court records concerning juveniles should be afforded the same treatment as any other superior court records when the court retains exclusive jurisdiction over a case involving a juvenile 13 to 17 years of age who is accused of committing specified felonies. 1995 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U95-8 (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-59).

Court orders for the release of information should be written. 1987 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U87-18 (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-59).

Conditions for release.

- Juvenile court should only release information regarding a child's delinquency charges when disclosure is found to be in the child's own interest or otherwise mandated by the Constitution. 1987 Op. Att'y Gen. No. U87-18 (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-59).

RESEARCH REFERENCES

Am. Jur. 2d.

- 47 Am. Jur. 2d, Juvenile Courts and Delinquent and Dependent Children, §§ 1, 4, 110 et seq. 66 Am. Jur. 2d, Records and Recording Laws, § 28.

C.J.S.

- 43 C.J.S., Infants, § 254. 76 C.J.S., Records, § 41 et seq.

U.L.A.

- Uniform Juvenile Court Act (U.L.A.) § 55.

ALR.

- Constitutionality, construction, and application of statutory provision against use in evidence in any other case of records or evidence in juvenile court proceedings, 147 A.L.R. 443.

Restricting public access to judicial records of state courts, 84 A.L.R.3d 598.

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