All juvenile matters are confidential and information concerning a juvenile case may only be shared or disclosed when specifically authorized by statute or court order. The law does however recognize that victims have certain rights despite the child’s right to confidentiality.
There are three specific rights that victims of juvenile delinquent acts have:
But it is important to remember that all of these rights are only accessible through the court. Any police officer asked for juvenile information should deny the request and provide the person requesting the information with the police case number and the telephone number of the juvenile court where the case was sent. If they are entitled to the information, the court will provide it. If not, they will be told the reasons why.
CGS §46b-124(c) provides that:
“All records of cases of juvenile matters involving delinquency proceedings, or any part thereof, shall be confidential and for the use of the court in juvenile matters and shall not be disclosed except as provided in this section.”
CGS §46b-124(a) defines “records of cases of juvenile matters” as including, but not limited to:
When it comes to disclosing juvenile information, the law recognizes two groups that might be viewed as a “victim” in a juvenile delinquency case.
This category would include anyone who is able to convince a judge that they have a “legitimate interest” in the juvenile information they are requesting. An insurance company that has paid a claim for damage or injury and is now seeking information about the juvenile responsible for the damage or injury so they can pursue their right to seek reimbursement might be an example of a “person with a legitimate interest.”
In addition to seeking the information, a specific order of the court should be requested authorizing the use of that information in any negotiations or legal action resulting from the claim. Otherwise, the law says that any records “disclosed pursuant to this subsection shall not be further disclosed, except as specifically authorized by a subsequent order of the court.”
For these persons, the law provides that juvenile information “be available to the victim of the crime committed by such child to the same extent as the record of the case of a defendant in a criminal proceeding in the regular criminal docket of the Superior Court is available to a victim of the crime committed by such defendant.” It says further that an official, usually the Juvenile Probation Supervisor, be designated from whom a victim may request such information.
As in the case above for a person with a legitimate interest, in addition to seeking the information, a specific order of the court should be requested authorizing the use of that information in any negotiations or legal action resulting from the incident. Otherwise, the law says that any records “disclosed pursuant to this subsection shall not be further disclosed, except as specifically authorized by a subsequent order of the court.”
Just as juvenile records are confidential, so too are the court hearings involving juvenile delinquency cases. CGS §46b-122(a) requires that all juvenile cases be “kept separate and apart from all other business of the Superior Court as far as is practicable.” In subsection (b), it also permits the judge to “exclude from the room in which such hearing is held any person whose presence is, in the court’s opinion, not necessary.”
Again, the law makes an exception for the victims of juvenile crime by providing in subsection (b) that “any victim shall not be excluded unless, after hearing from the parties and the victim and for good cause shown, which shall be clearly and specifically stated on the record, the judge orders otherwise.” Such a situation where the victim might be excluded would be where the victim’s presence would be disruptive of the hearing or if sensitive matters about the child or the family were going to be discussed that the court determined should not be heard by the victim.
If a victim is permitted to sit in on a juvenile hearing, they are still bound by the confidentiality statutes and prohibited from further disclosing any information they heard.
For purposes of this section, “victim” means a person who is the victim of a delinquent act, a parent or guardian of such person, the legal representative of such person or a victim advocate for such person.
CGS §46b-138b allows the following persons to appear before the court for the purpose of making a statement to the court concerning the disposition of the case:
Such a statement could be made in person or in writing and generally informs the court about the impact the child’s conduct has had on the victim. This might be a physical impact, emotional impact, financial impact that the victim has suffered. The statement might also include any factors or recommendations the victim would like the court to consider when deciding on the disposition or sentence that will be imposed on the child.
|More information about the rights of the victims of crimes and assistance with the court process can be obtained from:|
|The Office of the Victim Advocate|
|505 Hudson Street 5th Floor|
|Hartford, CT 06106|
|The Office of Victim Services|
|225 Spring St., Fourth Floor,|
|Wethersfield, Connecticut 06109|
|Toll Free: 800-822-8428|