What are Georgia Juvenile Court Records?
Georgia’s juvenile justice system exists to provide rehabilitation and treatment to juvenile offenders, ensure that offending juveniles are accountable for offenses and law violations, equip juvenile offenders to live productively and responsibly. The juvenile justice system’s goals include protecting the community, guaranteeing due process, and strengthening family bonds. The Department of Juvenile Justice serves youthful offenders up to age 21; however, Georgia state laws categorize juveniles as minors under 17.
When law enforcement officers arrest a juvenile and place the juvenile in custody, an intake officer must immediately review the charges against the juvenile to determine whether there is enough evidence. If there is sufficient evidence to support the charges, the intake officer must assess the juvenile’s risk to self and the public in order to determine whether to keep the juvenile in custody or release the juvenile before a court hearing.
If the court finds a juvenile guilty or adjudicates the juvenile delinquent, the court may refer the juvenile to informal adjustment, probation, general commitment, or designated felon commitment. The assignment depends on the nature of the offense and other circumstances surrounding each case.
The Department of Juvenile Justice maintains court records for all youthful offenders. Additionally, the courts and other authorized agencies in Georgia, including law enforcement, maintain juvenile offender information.
What Information is Contained in a Georgia Juvenile Record?
Georgia juvenile records detail a juvenile or youthful offender’s progress through the juvenile justice system. Juvenile records contain information about all juvenile justice processes, from arrest to disposition. Typically, Georgia juvenile records contain information such as:
- Rights forms
- Court orders
- Appeal notices
- Supervision summaries
- Investigative reports
- Police reports
- Detention reports
- Adjudication orders
- Disposition orders
According to OCGA §15–11–704, juvenile records are not available for public inspection in Georgia. Only authorized persons, such as persons named on the record or the juvenile’s attorney, may access the record. However, the public may access records of cases where the court opened the hearings to the public. Examples of such cases include:
- Designated felony hearings
- Repeated delinquent offender hearings
- Hearings of cases involving sexual assault
- Child support hearings
- Child dependency proceedings
What Cases are Heard by Georgia Juvenile Courts?
In Georgia, the juvenile court has jurisdiction over cases of:
- Juvenile delinquency
- Child in need of services
- Child dependency
- Developmentally disabled or mentally ill juveniles
- Juvenile traffic offenses
- Juveniles in foster care after the age of 18
- Juveniles under probation or court supervision
- Child custody and support
- Temporary guardianship establishment or termination
For some of the above-listed cases, such as child custody and support and guardianship establishment and termination, Georgia’s juvenile court shares concurrent jurisdiction with other designated courts.
Who is Eligible to View Juvenile Records in Georgia?
Most juvenile records are confidential in Georgia (OCGA §15–11–704).. Persons authorized to access confidential juvenile records include:
- Representatives of the Department of Juvenile Justice
- Council of Juvenile Court Judges
- Governor’s Office for Children and families
- Prosecuting attorneys
- Juvenile probation and parole officers
- Parties to juvenile proceedings
- The juvenile party’s attorney, parents, or guardians
- Parole boards
- Penal facilities and institutions
- The court
- Law enforcement officers
Juvenile records are only available to authorized persons for official reasons and with a court order. For example, prosecuting attorneys and law enforcement officers may access juvenile records when required for the discharge of the officers’ or attorneys’ duties. Additionally, the court may access juvenile records for disposition hearings.
In Georgia, it is an offense to disclose juvenile record information to unauthorized persons.
How to Find Juvenile Records in Georgia
Persons interested in inspecting or obtaining copies of juvenile records must contact the Court Clerk in the county or court that heard the juvenile’s case. Such parties may request juvenile records in person or submit written requests to the Court Clerk. As most juvenile records are only accessible to authorized parties, the Court Clerk may require photo identification and a reason for the request. Additionally, the court charges fees to copy juvenile records.
Interested parties may also request juvenile records from Georgia’s Department of Juvenile Justice. Requesting parties must submit filled request forms and a signed release form, as access requires the record subject’s consent. If the juvenile named on the record is under 18 years old, the juvenile’s guardian may sign the release form.
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 Georgia Juvenile Records Online?
No, it is not possible to look up Georgia juvenile records online. Georgia offers remote access to court records at state and county levels; however, state laws prohibit public access to general juvenile court records. Due to the confidential status of juvenile records, the state does not make the records available online. Interested parties may inspect or copy juvenile records by contacting the Clerk of Juvenile Court in the county where the juvenile resides or the court that heard the juvenile’s case.
Do Georgia Juvenile Records Show up on Background Checks?
According to OCGA §15–11–708, law enforcement and other handling agencies must separate juvenile records from adult records. Under state laws, juvenile adjudications are not equivalent to guilty judgments, and juvenile records are not criminal records. Because most juvenile records are confidential and withheld from public access, Georgia juvenile records do not show up on background checks. However, public juvenile records, such as records of felony dispositions, may show up on background checks. The court automatically seals some juvenile records; however, for other records, the record subject must petition the court to seal the records.
When the court seals a juvenile record, the court treats the offense like it never happened and deletes all index references to the record. To qualify for sealing, the requesting party must fulfill the following requirements:
- Two years must have passed since the juvenile’s release or discharge.
- Since release, the court has not convicted the juvenile of any felony or misdemeanor offenses or adjudicated the juvenile delinquent.
- The juvenile has undergone rehabilitation.
- There are no pending proceedings against the juvenile.
How Long are Juvenile Records Kept in Georgia?
Georgia courts automatically seal juvenile records when the court dismisses a delinquency petition or complaint against a juvenile. The court seals all case records, including photographs, fingerprints, and other law enforcement records. Similarly, the court seals cases of informal adjustments once the juvenile completes the adjustment program. As with dismissals, the court seals all case records, including photos, fingerprints, and law enforcement records.
Records that the court does not automatically seal are valid until the record subject files a petition with the court to seal the record.