When you are researching court cases that involve finding cases where juveniles were charged and convicted of a crime, what is the easiest way to search?I am trying to find court cases where...

When you are researching court cases that involve finding cases where juveniles were charged and convicted of a crime, what is the easiest way to search?

I am trying to find court cases where students are the defendants and am having trouble.  All I seem able to find are cases involving college age students and I need to find cases involving elementary and middle school age students.

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litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Juveniles are protected in our legal system. Their records are supposed to be sealed, in order to give them a fresh start when they turn 21. That being said, you can still look up cases in Westlaw or Lexus-Nexus with unnamed juveniles, but you need access through a university or law office.
larrygates's profile pic

larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The law goes to great length to protect juveniles from criminal records. They are young and callow, and prone to make mistakes they would not have made were they older and more mature. For that reason, most cases involving juveniles are sealed by the court. Even court proceedings are private, unless the juvenile or his parents wish for the hearing to be made public. Such records are normally only opened by court order for good cause shown. Quite often, when the juvenile reaches his maturity he can have the record expunged if he has no other offenses.

In some instances of serious crimes, a juvenile may be charged as an adult. In that instance, his record is not sealed, and he is subject to the same penalty as an adult, although his age might be a mitigating factor in sentencing.

There is a fairly old Supreme Court Case: In Re Gault, 387 U.S. 1 that can give you more information on juvenile rights. But, if you are searching for garden variety juvenile offenders' records, you probably won't get to see them without the consent of the juvenile's parents, or the former juvenile if he is now an adult. The reason you can access college students' records is because they are no longer minors in the eyes of the law.

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