Massachusetts Court Records
What are Massachusetts Juvenile Court records?
Juvenile Courts in Massachusetts undertake cases of juvenile delinquency, and children in need of aid and support. The system of documentation preserves the memory of legal involvement in a case. These documentations compile to form a Juvenile Court record. The purpose of compilation is for constructive intervention in troubled children and support for the vulnerable juveniles. Massachusetts state laws specifically imposes that proceedings against juveniles are not the same as criminal proceedings.
What Information Is Contained In a Massachusetts Juvenile Record?
Juvenile records in Massachusetts comprise all records maintained in the courts and probation records section.
Probation records specifically provide information about the welfare of a child in terms of custody, inheritance, will settlements, allocation of guardianships, etc
Delinquency records provide general information about the juvenile justice process for that individual. It states if there are arrests, incarcerations, court orders, restitutions, fine assessments, court dispositions, etc. Note that all juvenile records contain the necessary identifying information such as the names and addresses of the involved parties, their physical identification features, such as complexion, colour of eyes and hair, height, race, gender, educational background, records of previous charges, representing attorneys names and contacts, etc. Arrest records may contain mugshot images and fingerprints.
What Cases are Heard by Massachusetts Juvenile Court?
Juvenile Courts in Massachusetts have general jurisdiction of cases involving juveniles either in terms of crime or victimization. Among them are:
- Truancy (skipping classes)
- Underage smoking
- Illicit substance use and alcohol
- Indulging in sexual activity
- Offenses that are criminal equivalent in adults law
- Cases that involve the victimization of children include domestic abuse or neglect of children
- Motions for determination of parental or guardianship rights
Who is Eligible to View Juvenile Records in Massachusetts?
- Juvenile records in Massachusetts are highly confidential. There are no differences in the restrictions placed on juvenile court records and any other juvenile record in other agencies. For juvenile court records, they are only available upon the consent of a Court Justice according to the Massachusetts General laws chapter 119 subsection 60. Apart from court authorized staff and agencies, only the juvenile’s representing attorneys, parents or guardians and the juvenile himself/herself can access court records without restrictions. A caveat to this is that the nature of the offense, age of the juvenile, and the number of offenses can lead to placing a juvenile record in public view. Inclusive of this list are:
- If the offense occurred between 14 and 18 years of age
- The offense is a criminal equivalent in the adult court of law punishable by imprisonment
- Repeat of the same category of offenses listed above
Otherwise, anyone seeking to access these records must present a court order to view or copy them.
How to Find Juvenile Records in Massachusetts
The agency that created the record usually keeps a reproducible primary copy for official reasons or upon request. The juvenile court clerk’s office has oversight of copies of juvenile court records generated in its jurisdiction. Received requests get processed when they are made either in person or by mail. Use the Juvenile Court Directory of the state of Massachusetts to get the address and contact details of the relevant court location. Keep in mind that evidence of eligibility must accompany all requests to view or copy the record. The confidential nature of juvenile records in Massachusetts may limit the format options of a request. To put it differently, the system does not encourage online or electronic copies of juvenile records. Be sure to visit the local courthouse for information.
Before making a request, make sure the following information is ready
- Name of the juvenile
- The ID or docket number of the case
- The court address or county with current jurisdiction of the case
- Evidence of eligibility to view the case. This could be as a valid photo ID, a court order or a notarized release form from the juveniles attorney.
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 Look Up Massachusetts Juvenile Records Online?
No. The criminal offender record information of the state does not provide juvenile records. The same rule applies to third-party online websites that provide information about criminal records of individuals in states across the federation. In short, Massachusetts juvenile records cannot be accessible online.
Do Massachusetts Juvenile Records Show Up on Background Checks?
No. Unless the record reflects an offense that is a criminal equivalent in the adult law court, juvenile records of delinquencies do not show up in a criminal background check. Another exception is if the juvenile record includes a diverted proceeding to an adult court. This is especially true of felonies committed by juvenile between 14 and 18 years of age. Some agencies have access to invisible juvenile information. Because of the critical nature of their function, they have legal permission to view records of juveniles that are otherwise unseen by the public. Inclusive of this list are healthcare, childcare, educational, and military agencies. Also, law enforcement authorities across the state have unrestricted access to juvenile record information.
How Long are Juvenile Records Kept in Massachusetts?
Unlike other States in the federation, there is no age qualification for requesting to seal a juvenile record. A juvenile age bracket ends at 17 years. Interested parties may wish to have their records sealed before then, provided there has been a three-year gap since they had the last investigations, charges, court obligations, or sentences to complete. The presence of convictions or charges with a federal court can disqualify the party from applying for record removal. The same rule applies to motor vehicle offenses. Sealed records get separated from the main record file and placed in a restricted place. The commissioner notifies associated agencies such as the Clerk of Courts and Department of Youth Services and Probation of the move to seal a record to update the status of that record in their agencies accordingly. Law enforcement agencies however have the right to information about sealed records.