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Washington Court Records

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What are Washington Juvenile Court Records?

The Juvenile Court system in Washington state handles cases of persons defined as juveniles in the state. A juvenile is anyone below the age of 18 years. Juvenile Courts in Washington are an integral part of the Superior Court in the States. Washington operates a juvenile offender system that treats persons below the age of 18 years different from persons in adult law courts. In this system, the focus is accountability and rehabilitation. The Juvenile Justice Act of 1977 governs interpretations of the law pertaining to juveniles.

What Information Is Contained In A Washington Juvenile Record?

The type of record determines how much detail will be present in the documentation. All juvenile records must contain the names of the involved party, residential address, date of birth, physical descriptors, the relevant statute regarding the case, and the current status of the case. For delinquency records, it should contain information about the offence committed, notice of arrest warrants if any, incident reports if there was a crash, and fingerprints. Sometimes DNA samples may be present. Dependency records will contain information about the custody arrangements, names of custodians, educational information, residential address, etc.

Other contents may include charging documents, motions, briefs, notices of court, trial lists, court findings, orders, judgements agreements, rulings, appeal notices, and other documents as prepared by the court clerk.

What Cases Are Heard By Washington Juvenile Courts?

There are two categories of cases under the jurisdiction of Washington Juvenile Court: delinquencies and dependencies

Among these cases are:

  • Truancy
  • Status offenses such as underage smoking
  • Larcenies
  • Violating curfew regulations
  • Criminal behaviour
  • Custody allocation
  • Adoptions
  • Termination of parental rights
  • Family reconciliation
  • Emancipation from abuse or neglect

Who Is Eligible To View Juvenile Records In Washington?

There are at least three categories of juvenile records in the state:

  • The official Court file
  • The social file, also known as probation file
  • Affiliate records in other agencies such as law enforcement arrest records, prosecution records, etc

The official Juvenile Court file is public record and available for inspection.

The other two categories unavailable to the public. Only a few eligible people have access to these two categories under limited circumstances.

How to find Juvenile records in Washington

Begin the search at the custodian agency in charge of the record of interest. Juvenile courts in Washington are the primary custodians of all juvenile cases brought to the court. If a case gets transferred to the adult criminal court as a juvenile felony, then the adult criminal court becomes a party in maintaining that record. Juvenile delinquency cases are open to the public in Washington, therefore anyone can visit the relevant juvenile court and make a request to view or copy them. Dependency records or records that protect the rights of the child do not come readily available unless the party has a legitimate interest in the record that is demonstrable. An ID card or some official evidence linking such person to the child will be important in granting access. Also, persons with an executive or court order can access this information. Apply for a court order using the Motion and Declaration for Order Authorizing Inspection for Records form. Also note that some records even though open to the public may be under a seal when the benefits of privacy outweigh the need for public knowledge.

Can You Look Up Washington Juvenile Records Online?

It depends. Only the contents of the official court file may be available online. Therefore, visit the juvenile court of interest and request to view a full version of a juvenile court record.

The Washington Juvenile Records Show Up On A Background?

Yes, and no. Yes, because of cases that got transferred or diverted to the adult criminal court. By statutes, any case of a juvenile crime that is an adult felony equivalent tried in the adult law court gets documented as an adult criminal record. Examples of such are murders, rapes, robberies, etc. The same rule applies for sex offenders and crimes against children.

No, for cases that remain in the Juvenile Court. The statutes of the state impose that major traffic violations must remain visible throughout the lifetime of the individual. Inclusive of this list are Driving Under the Influence (DUI), Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), etc. The rules of adult expungement of criminal driving records apply for juvenile cases.

How Long Are Juvenile Records Kept In Washington?

The laws of the state provide for the removal of juvenile records from the legal system to give affected persons a fresh start at life. Juvenile records remain public information until the individual qualifies to apply for expungement or sealing of a record. The qualification age is 18 years having paid all restitutions and fines and fulfilled all court obligations. Also, there should be no pending or fresh cases of investigation or arrest at the time of application for expungement. Sealing a record removes them from public disclosure but is still accessible by authorized persons. Upon a criminal background check, sealed and expunged records are invisible. Investigation bodies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have unlimited access to the record.

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