In 1986 Minnesota law was changed to open court proceedings to the public for 16 and 17 year-olds charged with any felony level offense. The resulting records are also public, even if the charges are later dismissed or reduced.
Since 1986, more crimes have been made felonies, criminal records have been made publicly available on centralized electronic sources, the number of commercial background data companies has skyrocketed, and the percentage of employers conducting background checks for any position has increased over 60%.
Now thousands of Minnesota’s young people have their future potential unnecessarily limited. 2,646 Felony level delinquency petitions were filed for 16-17 year olds in 2010. When these young people later seek employment and housing, they will often be denied, sometimes not even knowing their juvenile record was the reason for denial. Juveniles should be held accountable so that they can learn from bad choices and then supported in becoming responsible adults, not forever held back by their juvenile record.
This legislation allows judges to decide, on a case-by-case basis, if a felony level charge of a 16 or 17 year old is serious or violent enough to warrant a public hearing and record.
• The most serious cases, extended jurisdiction juvenile and adult certification hearings, will remain automatically open to the public.
• Victims still have access to all hearings.
• Records maintain current availability for Department of Human Services background studies, corrections, law enforcement, schools, parents, and all positions requiring a background check to work with children.
Authors: Representatives Smith, Woodard, Shimanski, Johnson, Hilstrom, Gauthier, Howes, Champion, Moran, Clark, Kieffer, Liebling, and Lesch; Senators Jungbauer and Harrington
For additional information: Mark Haase, Council on Crime and Justice, 612-819-0738
This legislation is part of the legislative agenda of the MN Corrections Association, the Council on Crime and Justice, the MN Second Chance Coalition made up of over 65 different organizations, and the MN Assoc. of Criminal Defense Lawyers. It is also supported by the MN Assoc. of Community Corrections Act Counties, the MN Assoc. of Community Probation Officers, and the MN Juvenile Detention Association.