Procedures for Sealing of Juvenile Files and Records


HISTORY: Prior to January 1,1996.
Prior to January 1, 1996, the sealing of juvenile files and records was relatively simple. A motionwas filed with die Juvenile Court requesting the sealing of files and records of a specific individual naming the Tarrant County Juvenile Services, any referring law enforcement agency and theDistrict Attorney’s Office as the agencies which might have records and files regarding the person. For offenses that occurred on or before 1/1/96, that method of requesting the sealing of
files and records still applies.

Between 9/1/79 and 9/1/87, §51.16 of Title 3 provided for the sealing and destruction of all filesand records concerning a person adjudicated to be a child in need of supervision or a delinquent child if seven years had elapsed since the child’s 16 birthday and the person had not beenconvicted of a felony (after becoming an adult).
In 1987 the code was amended to prohibit the destruction of files and records concerning apersons adjudicated as having engaged in delinquent conduct that violated penal law of the grade of felony.

In 1995, §51.16 was repealed and the sealing and destruction provision were amended and movedto §58.003 where they currently remain. At that time the provision for the destruction of anadjudication for delinquent conduct (misdemeanor or felony) was removed. These records maynow only be sealed for offenses occurring on or after 9/1/96. The provision for the destruction offiles and records for conduct indicating a need for supervision is still in the code, but now mayoccur only after the records have been ordered sealed by the court (58.003(1).CURRENT LAW: Offenses occurring on or after January 1,1996.

The changes in the Juvenile Justice Code, effective 1/1/96, have made the sealing of juvenile filesand records more complicated. Chapter 58, establishes a state-wide computerized juvenile recordssystem in which juvenile arrests and referrals to the juvenile court for all felonies, class A and Bmisdemeanors result in the fingerprinting and photographing of the juvenile, and the forwarding of the information to the DPS for inclusion in the Juvenile Justice Information System. This system ismodeled on the adult system created by Chapter 60 of the CCP.
It is important to understand that the juvenile and adult records are co-mingled in the CriminalJustice Information System. The adult arrest and fingerprint card which reports criminal history information to the DPS is a DPS form CR43. The juvenile reporting form is a CR43-J. The onlything that separates a juvenile from an adult record is the identifier (-J).
If a juvenile is taken into custody by a law enforcement agency in Tarrant County, there islikelihood that the juvenile is not fingerprinted and photographed by the arresting agency. Sinceme mention of me new statute regarding me fingerprintJuvenile Detention Center I.D. Office. Please note that prior to July 2005 fi^gerpm^ wasdoneby law enforcement officers (Sheriffs Deputies) stationed in the facility. As of July 2005, JuvenileDepartment personnel now administer the fingerprinting.

When drafting the sealing motion, you need to determine if the juvenile was printed by thearresting agency or at the ID. Office in the Juvenile Detention Center. If the juvenile was printed by the police before being referred to the juvenile department, they are usually not printed again atthe center. Some times if the child and prints are brought to the department by the arresting agency and they are determined to be of poor quality, the child might be re-printed at thedetention facility to ensure a proper set of prints has been taken.Prior to 7/25/03, regardless of which police agency was making a referral, an extra set offingerprints were taken and the cards were forwarded to the Ft. Worth Police Department I.D.Bureau. These cards are still maintained in the “master file” of the Ft. Worth Police Department.
If the applicant for sealing was arrested or referred to the Juvenile Department prior to 7/25/03the FWPD I.D. Bureau needs to be listed in the motion to seal as one of the agencies to beincluded in the sealing order.

In April of 2002, the Juvenile Detention ID. Office “Livescan” machine came on line and beganto electronically transmit fingerprints to the Department of Public Safety by means of what iscalled an APIS (automated fingerprint identification system). When a juvenile is printed at theJuvenile Detention Center, an “ink-less” set of prints is taken and electronically recorded.

One set of prints is electronically transmitted to the DPS Crime Records Service. If requested, asecond set of prints may also be printed provided to the referring law enforcement agency. Thephotograph, if taken in the LD. Office, is maintained in the Sheriffs Department computer file in
the I.D. Office. Copies of the photograph also may be provided to the referring agency.

Photographs of juveniles are not sent to the DPS. The individual filing a motion to seal files andrecords must notify these other agencies if he/she wishes to make sure that all records are located.Each DPS form CR43-J has a specific identifier number referred to as the TRN (trackingnumber). Supplemental offenses or added charges are linked to the referring offense by using thesame TRN. It is important that any person filing to seal juvenile files and records know what theTRN’s are so they may be specifically identified in the motion and the order to seal files andrecords.To assure that all agencies, files and records are identified in the motion and order, the individual
filing a motion to seal files and records needs to contact the Juvenile Court and request that theTarrant County Juvenile Services be instructed to provide any information it may have to enablehe individual to properly file the motion and prepare the order to seal It should be noted that the Juvenile Services might not be able to provide the TRN numbers on all records. When the fingerprinting and photographing began in 1996, all forms were forwarded to  the DPS when completed and copies were not maintained by the Juvenile Services. It was discovered that to be able to easily identify specific referrals to the DPS, copies of the forms would need to be retained locally. By using Identifying information in the Juvenile Servicesrecords, the photograph record and TRN numbers are usually accessible from the I.D. computerlocated in the detention center.

If the person (petitioner) was referred for an offense that occurred on or after 1/1/96, the individual filing a motion to seal files and records must be capable of providing the following detailed identifier information. Without this information, The Texas Department of Public Safety may not complete the sealing process.
1. Full name of the person
2. Sex
3. Race
4. Date of Birth
5. Driver’s license Number
6. Social Security Number
7. Address of the person at the time of being taken into custody/detained or referred to the
juvenile court/juvenile probation department.
8. The alleged conduct delinquent or CINS (offense)
9. The date the person was detained or taken into custody (photographed and fingerprinted)
for each offense alleged. NOTE: If the juvenile was charged with a Class B Misdemeanor or
above, you must assume that he/she was fingerprinted. The date the juvenile was
fingerprinted shows up as “Date of Arrest” on the DPS fingerprint/tracking form. If possible
try and obtain the ten-digit “TRN” number that specifically identifies the fingerprint card
tracking form. Also remember, if the juvenile was charged with delinquent conduct (Class B
or above) on more than one occasion, there will be more than one DPS fingerprint/tracking
10. The name of the agency that detained or took the person into custody (referring lawenforcement agency).
11. The juvenile case number and identity of the juvenile court that presided over the person’sjuvenile proceedings.
12. A list of all law enforcement agencies, detention facilities, correctional facilities, magistratescourts, prosecuting attorneys, central state depositories of criminal records, and otherofficials or agencies or other entities of this state or political subdivision of this state and ofall federal depositories of criminal records that the person has reason to believe have records or files that relate to the offenses referred to the Tarrant County Juvenile Services Department, which serves as the point of intake for the Tarrant County Juvenile Court.

NOTE: If the juvenile was referred to the juvenile services department for a Class B or above onmore than one occasion, the information in hems 7 through 11 needs to be repeated for eachseparate offense to ensure the records are removed from the DPS system. Any offenses not specifically identified may remain in the DPS system.  Also be sure to ask the person if he/she was charged with any other offenses in any other counties other than Tarrant. They may have a juvenile record in anothercounty of which you may not be aware. If it is not included in the motion and the agencies are not given notice of the hearing, it will not be sealed.

If the client’s referrals were the result of offenses occurring before 1/1/96, send notice bycertified mail of when the hearing is set to the referring police department, prosecutor’s office and the juvenile probation department. Once the order is signed by the court, certified copies of the order need to be sent by certified mail to each of these same agencies instructing them to forward their records or certification of the destruction of computer files to the Office of the District Clerk, 2701 Kimbo Road, Ft. Worth, Texas 76111.

If the person was referred for an offense that occurred on or after 1/1/96, all of the following agencies need to be notified by certified mail when a hearing is to be set. Once the order is signed by the court, certified copies of the order need to be sent by certified mail to each of these same agencies, instructing them to forward their records or certification of the destruction of computer files to the Office of the District Clerk, 2701 Kimbo Road, Ft. Worth, Texas, 76111.
Tarrant County Juvenile Services, 2701 Kimbo Rd. Ft. Worth, 76111, Attention: Vickie
Bowers, Operational Support Supervisor.
Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office The referring (arresting) agency Ft. Worth Police Department ID. Bureau (referrals prior to 7/25/03) Texas Department of Public Safety, Attention: Charlie Maddox, Expunctions, P.O. Box 4087,
Austin, Texas, 78773-0234 Texas Youth Commission (if the person was committed to the custody of the TYC)

The Administration of the I.S.D. the person was attending at the time of the offense. This applies to Art. 15.27 CCP requirement for notifications to schools by law enforcement, juvenile prosecutors and juvenile probation departments.

Please remember that the sealing statute in effect prior to 1/1/96 still applies to offenses, whichoccurred on or before that date. The ages for which sealing is allowed changed and the statute needs to be consulted prior to filing a motion to seal files and records. Your client may fell underboth the old and the new statutes. The former statute was Title 3, §51.16, Texas Family Code. Please note that the person to which the sealing order applies needs to be informed that once the order is signed, do not assume that all records will be immediately forwarded to the Clerk and the records are indeed sealed. He/She needs to keep a copy of the order for their own records toprove the records were ordered sealed. It may take several months for all of the records to bepulled or deleted from the DPS System and forwarded to the Clerk’s Office.

Effective September 1, 1999, §58.003 of the Juvenile Justice Code requires all agencies that arenotified to seal records to send the records to the court before the 61st day after the order is received. If the record can not be sealed because of incorrect or insufficient information in the order, the court must be notified before the 61st dayafter the receipt of the order to seal. If the court receives notice that the record can not be sealed, the court shall notify the person or attorney for that person before the 61st day after receipt of the notice that the record can not besealed due to incorrect or insufficient information in the order.

Also be aware that §58.003(n) sets for a prohibition to filing for a sealing of records if the person was adjudicated as a juvenile for a sex offense for which registration was ordered by the court.

The person can not request the sealing of the juvenile record until the registration requirement has expired. In most cases, this will be 10 years after the person has completed the probationary period or has been released from TYC custody/supervision.(f\herdnwn\tnrimag\attyseal.doc)

The Attorneys
  • Francisco Hernandez
  • Daniel Hernandez
  • Phillip Hall
  • Rocio Martinez