85(R) - 2017
Senate Criminal Justice
Senate Criminal Justice
Relating to confidentiality, sharing, sealing, and destruction of juvenile records.
No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
This bill would add a chapter to the family code that would require that juvenile records not be disclosed to the public and would require they must be kept separate from adult records. It would also require that juvenile records be stored on a local basis and not shared with state or federal databases. This bill specifies who may have access to these records and specifies under what conditions the information may be accessed and shared.
SB 1304 would add a chapter that details the process for the automatic sealing of juvenile records. If passed, information about criminal street gang affiliation, sex offender registration records, and certain records collected or maintained for statistical and research purposes would not be subject to sealing.
If passed, an individual who has been referred to a juvenile probation department for delinquent conduct would be entitled to automatically having their records sealed if the individual is at least 19 years old and, either has not been determined to have engaged in delinquent conduct, or has been determined to have engaged in delinquent conduct constituting a misdemeanor. They may not have any pending delinquent conduct matters, and they would be ineligible if they were sent to a criminal court for certain serious charges. In addition, they may not have been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony as an adult or to have any pending charges that could result in jail time.
For the sealing of records pertaining to delinquent conduct punishable as a felony, an individual would have to meet the same conditions as above, except they would have to reach the age of 25. If the records relate to habitual felony conduct, or other certain felonies that qualify for a determinate sentence the records would not qualify for sealing.
If an individual has been referred to a juvenile probation department for conduct indicating a need for supervision, their records would be automatically sealed at the age of 18, if they meet the qualifications set out above.
This bill would also establish a process for applying to seal juvenile records for those whose records were not automatically sealed. It would also outline the procedures for a hearing in the case that a court decides to hold a hearing before making a decision. This bill would require courts to notify children, and/or their parents about the right to seal juvenile records.
This bill would also authorize a juvenile board, the head of a law enforcement agency, or the prosecuting attorney to authorize the destruction of certain juvenile records. This bill establishes a procedure and requirement for their destruction.
Vote Recommendation Notes
Juvenile records can seriously hinder opportunities for education, housing, and employment. In the state of Texas a criminal record can diminish one’s opportunities to acquire occupational licenses, thereby continuing to punish the individual even long after they committed the crime and served their sentence. We support SB 1304 because it satisfies our commitment to limited government, and to individual liberty.