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Obtaining Records of a Juvenile in a California Civil Action 08/30/2010

By Barbara Haubrich, ACP/CAS

This article will discuss how to obtain a law enforcement agency report involving a juvenile; and
how to obtain a juvenile's criminal case file in connection with a civil action. Each requires a
different petition with the court. Juvenile records are confidential and can be difficult to
obtain. There are very specific guidelines to follow in order to obtain juvenile records. With
few exceptions, it will require the filing of a petition with the juvenile court requesting an order
to release the records. All forms in this article can be obtained at the California Court’s
website: http://www.courts.ca.gov/forms.htm

A. How to Obtain a Law Enforcement Agency Report Involving a Juvenile

Background:

Welfare and Institutions Code § 827.9 is the statute that covers this topic. In summary,
although law enforcement records of a juvenile should remain confidential, there are certain
circumstances that will require the release of juvenile police records to specified persons and
entities, and certain circumstances when a petition is required. The purpose of Welf. & Inst. §
827.9 is to clarify who is entitled to receive a complete copy of a juvenile police report, and the
process to follow for those who are not entitled to the report.

Forms Involved:

1. JV-580: Notice to Child and Parent/Guardian Re: Release of Juvenile Police Records
and Objection.
2. JV-575: Petition to Obtain Report of Law Enforcement Agency.

Procedure:

1. Complete Form JV-575: Petition to Obtain Report of Law Enforcement Agency.


2. Submit the Petition to the appropriate law enforcement agency that has custody of the
report. [Note: Although the code does not state that the JV-580 Notice should be filled
out by the Petitioner and provided to the law enforcement agency, I recommend that it
be filled out and submitted along with the Petition as a courtesy to the law enforcement
agency. Additionally, although the code does not state the manner in which to
"submit" the Petition, I recommend that it be submitted either by personal service or by
certified mail to verify the date of the submittal.]
3. The law enforcement agency is then required to serve JV-580: Notice to Child and
Parent/Guardian Re: Release of Juvenile Police Records and Objection. The law
enforcement agency has 20 days from the date of the submittal of the Petition to serve
the Notice. The Notice must be served on the juvenile that is the subject of the report
and the parents or guardian of the minor involved.
4. The time period for the minor or parents to submit an objection to the law
enforcement agency is 20 days if the notice was served by mail or confirmed by
facsimile; or 15 days if the notice was served by personal service.
5. If no objections are filed, the law enforcement agency must release the juvenile police
record within 15 days of the expiration of the objection period.
6. If an objection to the release of the police report is submitted to the law enforcement
agency, that agency must send the completed Petition, the objections, and a copy of
the requested juvenile police report to the presiding judge of the Juvenile Court to
obtain authorization from the court to release a complete copy of the juvenile police
record.
7. Prior to making a determination on whether to release the record, the Juvenile Court
must ensure that notice has been given and an opportunity to file an objection has
been provided to the juvenile in question, or to any other minor that may be identified
in the record. The time period for the minor or parents to submit an objection to the
juvenile court is 20 days if the notice was served by mail or confirmed by facsimile; or
15 days if the notice was served by personal service.
8. If time is of the essence, the Petitioner may file a motion with the presiding judge of
the Juvenile Court showing good cause why the objection period should be shortened.
9. After considering the Petition and any objections submitted to the Juvenile Court, the
court will determine whether the law enforcement agency may release a complete
copy of the juvenile police record to the person that submitted the Petition within 15
days of the expiration of the objection period.

B. How to Obtain a Juvenile's Case File

Background:

California Rules of Court Rule 5.552 provides a way to obtain a juvenile case file. The purpose
of CRC Rule 5.552 is to clarify what is contained in a juvenile case file, who is entitled to receive
a complete copy of a case file, and the process to follow for those who are not entitled to the
case file. Juvenile case files are those documents that are contained in a juvenile court case,
including reports to the court by probation officers, social workers, and CASA volunteers.

Forms Involved:

1. JV-571: Notice of Request for Disclosure of Juvenile Case File Re: Release of Juvenile
Case File and Right to File an Objection.
2. JV-570: Request for Disclosure of Juvenile Case File.
3. JV-572: Objection to Release of Juvenile Case File.
4. JV-573: Order on Request for Disclosure of Juvenile Case File.

Procedure:
1. Complete Form JV-570: Request for Disclosure of Juvenile Court Records. [Note: The
specific records sought must be identified based on knowledge, information, and belief
that these records exist and are relevant to the subject matter being
sought. Additionally, the Petitioner must describe in detail the reasons the records are
being sought and their relevancy to the action for which the Petitioner requests the
records.]
2. Complete Form JV-571: Notice of Request for Disclosure of Juvenile Case File.
3. At least 10 days before the petition is submitted to the court, the Petitioner must
personally or by first-class mail serve the Request for Disclosure, Notice of the Request
for Disclosure, and a blank copy of the Objection to Release of Juvenile Case File on
those individuals and entities listed in CRC Rule 5.552(d)(1)(B).
4. The Petitioner must then complete the JV-569: Proof of Service-Request for Disclosure
indicating the manner of service and file it with the Juvenile Court.
5. If the Petitioner does not know the identity or address of any of the parties, the clerk
must serve personally or by first-class mail to the last known address a copy of the
Request for Disclosure of Juvenile Case File, Notice of Request for Disclosure of Juvenile
Case File, and a blank copy of the Objection to Release of Juvenile Case File; and
complete the Proof of Service-Request for Disclosure and file them with the court.
6. The court must review the petition and, if Petitioner does nto show good cause, deny
the petition immediately. However, if the Petitioner shows good cause, the court may
set a hearing. The clerk must notice the hearing to the persons and entities involved.
7. Whether or not the court holds a hearing, if the court determines that there may be
information in the records that the Petitioner may be entitled to, the Juvenile Court
judicial officer must conduct an in camera review of the file and any objections, and
assume that all legal claims of privilege are asserted.
8. If, after an in-camera review and review of any objections, the court determines that all
or a portion of the case file may be disclosed, the court must make appropriate orders,
specifying the information to be disclosed and the procedure for providing access to it.

Barbara Haubrich is an Advanced Certified Paralegal in Trial Practices and Wrongful Death. She
is also a California Advanced Specialist in Civil Litigation. Barbara is the creator and author of
The California Litigator, a website that is designed to provide resources and
facilitate discussions relating to California state civil litigation. The California Litigator includes a
bi-weekly e-zine on all topics relating to civil litigation. Additionally, Barbara is the owner and
creator of Deadline Direct, a downloadable deadline calculating gadget for your Microsoft 7 or
Vista computers. Deadline Direct is a handy tool that gives you all the options you need in
calculating deadlines and syncs a note field with the calculation to Microsoft Outlook as a task,
calendar event, or e-mail.
DISCLAIMER: Barbara Haubrich, ACP/CAS, is not an attorney. Any information derived from The
California Litigator, and any other statements contained herein, are for information purposes
only, and should not be construed as legal advice or a recommendation on a legal matter. The
information from The California Litigator is not guaranteed to be correct, complete, or
current. Barbara makes no warranty, express or implied, about the accuracy or reliability of
the information provided within this newsletter, or to any other website to which
this newsletter may be linked.