2013 Texas Legislative Update: Juvenile Records – Charges Against Children Should be Confidential

Texas State House Bill 528 seeks to restrict access to records of children charged with or convicted of certain fine-only misdemeanors.  HB 528 is getting a second reading to the House this Monday April 22nd, 2013.  Texas Rep. Sylvester Turner (D-Houston) is the sponsor of HB 528.

If enacted HB 528 would change the language of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure and the Texas Family Code to make all records that relate to children who are charged with a crime confidential, and not just records for children who are convicted.  In addition, the change would removed the requirement that the child “has satisfied the judgement for“ the conviction.

Although seemingly minor changes, the impact for criminal justice involved youth is significant.  These changes would be beneficial to youth who may be stigmatized by records of charges that were not even substantiated.

In addition, if a court cost was a part of the judgment and the youth and their family were not able to pay the cost, the judgment could be considered not satisfied.  Thus, the record of the conviction would not be confidential because a child was too poor to pay a fee.

Criminal records could prevent youth from getting into college or gaining employment and much more.  Please see the Center for Children Law & Policy’s Collateral Consequences Guide for more information on how a juvenile record can derail the life of a child.

As HB 528 eliminates barriers for youth to develop into productive members of society, I support HB 528 and hope all of our Texas Representatives do too.

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