Senate Bill No. 601
(By Senators Cookman, Walters and Stollings)
[Introduced March 22, 2013; referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.]
A BILL to amend and reenact §49-5-18 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, relating to keeping the records of a juvenile proceeding confidential; and removing the requirement of sealing the records.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That §49-5-18 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted to read as follows:
ARTICLE 5. JUVENILE PROCEEDINGS.
§49-5-18. Confidentiality of juvenile records.
(a) One year after the juvenile's eighteenth birthday, or one year after personal or juvenile jurisdiction has terminated, whichever is later, the records of a juvenile proceeding conducted under this chapter, including, but not limited to, law-enforcement files and records, shall be may be sealed by operation of law kept in a separate secure confidential place and the records may not be inspected except by order of the circuit court.
(b) The records of a juvenile proceeding in which a juvenile was transferred to criminal jurisdiction pursuant to the provisions of section ten of this article shall be sealed by operation of law kept in a separate secure confidential place and the records may not be inspected except by order of the circuit court if the juvenile is subsequently acquitted or found guilty only of an offense other than an offense upon which the waiver or order of transfer was based, or if the offense upon which the waiver or order of transfer was based is subsequently dismissed.
(c) To seal keep the confidentiality of juvenile records, they shall be returned to the circuit court in which the case was pending and be kept in a separate confidential file. The records shall be physically marked to show that they have been sealed are to remain confidential and shall be securely sealed kept and filed in such a manner so that no one can have access to determine the identity of the juvenile, except upon order of the circuit court.
(d) Sealed records may not be opened except upon order of the circuit court.
(e) Sealing of juvenile records
(d) Marking the juvenile records to show they are to remain confidential has the legal effect of extinguishing the offense as if it never occurred.
(f) (e) The records of a juvenile convicted under the criminal jurisdiction of the circuit court pursuant to subdivision (1), subsection (d), section ten of this article may not be sealed marked and kept as confidential.
(g) (f) Any person who willfully violates this section shall be is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $1,000, or confined in the county or regional jail for not more than six months, or both so fined and confined, and shall be is liable for damages in the amount of $300 or actual damages, whichever is greater.
(NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to remove the requirement of sealing the records of a juvenile proceeding while still maintaining the confidentiality of the records.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.)