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Criminal Resource Manual

128. Court's Receipt of Juvenile Court Records

Prior to passage of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, any proceedings against a juvenile under 18 U.S.C.A. §  5032, whether proceeding as a juvenile or seeking a transfer to adult status, could not be commenced until any prior juvenile court records of such juvenile have been received by the court, or the clerks of all applicable juvenile courts have certified in writing that the juvenile has no prior record, or that the juvenile's record is unavailable and why it is unavailable. See also Brian N., 900 F. 2d at 221. This requirement arguably could have been satisfied by a good faith proffer of the juvenile records. United States v. M.I.M., 932 F. 2d 1016, 1019-20 n.2 (1st Cir. 1991). Juvenile records include all relevant municipal, county, state, federal, as well as tribal court records. Brian N., 900 F. 2d at 222. It has been held that the government met its burden where it produced letters from a state judge presiding over juvenile matters and district attorneys stating no proceedings or cases were evident in their respective counties concerning the juvenile. Parker, 956 F. 2d at 169-70. Although the letters were not certified, the court deemed the distinction a technicality which did not cause the district court to lack jurisdiction. Id. at 170.

"Proceedings" under the Act concerning the requirement of receipt by the court of juvenile court records have been interpreted to begin with the filing of an information. Id. at 219-23. In Brian N., the government did not tender juvenile records until the motion to transfer proceedings were held. 900 F.2d at 221. The court dismissed the case because the juvenile records were not filed timely. Id. In affirming the district court's dismissal of the case, the appellate court stated that the statute clearly provides that "proceedings" under the Act begin at the filing of the information, at which juvenile records must be provided to the court. Id. A transfer for criminal prosecution is considered a further proceeding under the Act, along with the adjudication hearing and the dispositional hearing. Id. The appropriate remedy for failing to timely file juvenile court records is dismissal of the information without prejudice. M.I.M., 932 F. 2d at 1020.

NOTE: The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 has modified the requirement of early filing of juvenile records by providing that any prior juvenile court records must be filed prior to transfer or delinquency disposition rather than before commencement of any proceedings as previously required. This change will allow the government more time to thoroughly research a juvenile's criminal past.