What are Florida Juvenile Court Records?
The state of Florida runs a network of agencies that collectively oversee juvenile offenses. They include:
- Juvenile Justice System
- Juvenile Division of the office of the State Attorney
- Juvenile Divisions of Circuit Courts across the state
This system is responsible for handling cases of delinquency among persons younger than the age of 18 years. All offenses, except for felonies, undergo non-jury trials in Juvenile Divisions of Circuit Courts. Processes and interpretation of terms are modified within the juvenile court process but do not invalidate the legal definitions, as stated in the 2019 Florida Statutes. Instead, they are structured to provide intervention and treatment services to alleviate delinquency and reform troubled youths. Records are generated by the court proceedings and maintained primarily at the courthouse where the case was filed. However, they are accessible through other processes at the office of the state agencies aforementioned.
What Information is Contained in a Florida Juvenile Record?
Juvenile Records in Florida are slightly different from Adult records. There are portions of the file that are confidential. A juvenile record typically contains the following:
- Identifiable descriptions include name, age, sex, race, photo image, complexion, and other physical characteristics. Often, physical descriptors are confidential
- Written notice of arrests (in some cases referred to as Pick Up Orders)
- History of detentions
- Court dispositions
- Intervention programs and treatment strategies for the youth offender
- Progress reports of rehabilitation programs
According to Florida state laws, juvenile records are not available as public records. Exceptions are felony cases such as sex crimes, three consecutive cases of misdemeanors, and serious traffic violations such as a DUI.
What Cases are Heard by Florida Juvenile Courts?
Juvenile status offenses refer to those which, if committed as an adult, will not warrant legal action. Some of them are:
- Skipping classes
- Running away from home
- Violating county or city curfew
- Incorrigible behavior (difficult to control)
- Having or using alcohol or tobacco
First-time status offender cases are usually diverted to local programs organized for Children in Need of Services (CINS) or Families in Need of Services (FINS) under the Florida Statute Chapter 984. These programs aim at guiding offending youths and preventing repeat offenses. Repeat offenders are placed in detention by the court. Felony cases and serious misdemeanors are routed through the adult criminal process and undergo a jury trial.
Who is Eligible to View Juvenile Records in Florida
According to Florida state laws on confidentiality, juvenile records are not available as regular public records. Based on this law, the following persons can view Juvenile Records in the state:
- Persons authorized by the Department of Juvenile Justice
- Department of Corrections
- Parole Commission
- Superintendent of the child's school
- Justice Administrative Commission
- Classroom teacher (where the student is on a commitment program or probation for a felony offense)
- Child's representing attorney
- Parent or guardian of the child
- Any other person with a legally recognized interest in the records with a court order
How to Find Juvenile Records in Florida
Juvenile Records are not accessible to the public under the Public Records law of the state. Exemptions are felony cases and multiple misdemeanors. The Florida Department of Juvenile Justice handles requests to inspect or copy juvenile records in the state. To inspect or copy a juvenile record, follow these steps:
- Provide a notarized release, a court, or a subpoena. Notarized releases must be completed by parents/guardians of children 17 years or younger, while youths 18 years and above are required to complete the Records Release Form.
- Include details about the type of record requested- as a paper copy, electronic copy of CD copy.
- Submit the completed form by email, or by postal mail to:
Department of Juvenile Justice
Public Records Request
2737 Centerview Drive
Tallahassee, FL 32399
Otherwise, send it by fax to (850) 921- 4159. For more inquiries, call (850) 717-2597. The type of record requested determines the service fees that will be charged. One-sided paper copies cost 15 cents per page, and double-sided paper copies cost 20 cents per page. CD-ROM costs 85 cents, while a DVD copy costs $1.15 each. Other copy formats depend on the actual cost of duplication and materials used. Regular packaging and shipping charges apply for all copy requests. Requests that require extra labor or more sophisticated technology will attract more service charges. contact the Public Information Officer by mail to:
Public Information Officer
2737 Centerview Dr.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-3100
Alternatively, call (850) 921- 4159 or send a fax message to (850) 921- 4129, or send an email
Juvenile court records can also be accessed at the Clerk of court's office of the Circuit court where the case was filed. As is with other juvenile records, prepare to submit a court order or an executive order along with the application to get the request approved.
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 a 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 Florida Juvenile Records Online?
No. Juvenile records are not available online. Exceptions to this rule are juvenile felonies and multiple misdemeanors. These exceptions can be viewed on electronic court records available on circuit court websites holding the data. They can also be accessed at the Florida Courts Online Public Docket and as rap sheets at the Florida Criminal History Record Check of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Division of Criminal Justice Information Services.
Do Juvenile Records Show up on Background Checks?
According to Florida statutes on retention of criminal records, juvenile felonies and serious misdemeanors will show up at background checks. Also, arrests and cases that were tried using the adult criminal process will be visible when criminal history information checks are carried out. Juvenile status offenses are not visible during criminal history checks. Juvenile status offenses are those that, if committed by an adult, will not be interpreted as a crime.
How Long are Juvenile Records Kept in Florida?
Juvenile records excluding felonies and serious misdemeanors are automatically destroyed after a period under Florida laws on preserving records. Juveniles that are deemed severe or chronic offenders may have the expunction of their records delayed until they are 26 years old. Juveniles with milder and fewer cases can have their records expunged at 24 years old. The same law also expunges traffic records that have no allegation of delinquency.
However, persons convicted of crimes after 18 years will have both records merged based on state laws. Such records remain in view as a criminal history information record.