Are juvenile criminal records protected information?

My 14 year old son is in the court system pending 2 counts of CSC 2nd. we are almost to the pretrial and are reasonably confident these charges will be reduced and sealed. The problem is the victim’s father is telling everyone what happened. Is that legal? What’s the point of having sealed records if everyone knows any way?

Asked on May 27, 2009 under Criminal Law, Michigan

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

It's unfortunate that this happening but there really isn't too much that you can do about idle gossip.  It's possible to get a "gag order" against certain parties to a lawsuit or criminal proceeding.  A gag order is an order by a court restricting information or comments from being made public.  However, they are not easily obtained and may not even apply to your situation.  Anyway, once the case is concluded the gag order is lifted.  The father could then resume talking.

You might have some sort of defamation or related claim.  But these type lawsuits are notoriously difficult (and expensive) to win.  Possibly if you contact an attorney in your area he/she may have some other ideas.

But know this, while right now it may seem to you as though everyone will hear not everyone will.  By sealing his records he will have a clean criminal record.  When your son applies for a job, or goes for a professional license, or any number of other things later in life, you'll see the point of having sealed records. 


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