Confidential information regarding juveniles has been shared with different agencies for years. When that includes the controversial topic of immigration, the law can get lost in the efforts of deciphering its meaning. These different agencies, mostly those with probation interests and law enforcement, routinely meet with federal agencies, such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) about those in the juvenile justice system. This opened the door for deportation, especially if the information is shared with no consideration of confidentiality and with those who are tasked with caring for the juveniles – such as case workers and detention personnel. Many kids find themselves facing a system they are unfamiliar with, adults who they are not sure they can trust and a language they may not have yet mastered.
Advocates and Better Solutions
There are advocates who have worked with different juvenile agencies on behalf of both American juveniles and immigrant juveniles, to seek better solutions for addressing their challenges. It took many years, but on January 1, 2016, a new law took place. This California juvenile law addresses these challenges and provides clarity in areas that had been confusing in the past.
What the Changes in the Law Mean
As a result, and pursuant to Section 827(a)(1) of the Welfare and Institutions Code, there are some who are allowed to inspect a California juvenile’s case file. They include:
- Court personnel
- The county district attorney or city attorney. Any prosecutor who is authorized to prosecute a juvenile’s case may gain access to the case file.
- The minor who is the subject of the proceeding
- The minor’s parents or guardian
- Attorneys for the parties, the judges who are over the case, probation officers and law enforcement agencies that are involved.
- A superintendent or designee of the school district where the minor is enrolled or attending school
- Any employees or members of a child protective agency who houses or knows information relevant to a case
- California Department of Social Services (in some – not all – cases). This includes authorized attorneys or investigators employed by the agency
- Any state agency providing treatment or supervision to the juvenile
- The judge, commissioner, or other hearing officer assigned to a family law case
- Any investigator assigned to the case by the court
- Any state child support agency that is establishing paternity
Others may be involved and this is determined on a case-by-case need. It is worth noting that Federal immigration officials are not listed among the individuals and agencies that get automatic access to juvenile court records. Perhaps most interesting is that immigration attorneys are not given automatic access, either.
The goal was to ensure better protections for juveniles, especially when they face deportation. Many are afraid and may not have known they broke the laws, especially if they’re on the streets with no guidance. This is far more common than many might believe. Still, putting the protections in place can go a long way in guiding a juvenile down a different path according to our juvenile court lawyers.
For more information, speak to our juvenile court attorneys today.