Journalist's Guide

Delinquency cases must be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt,” as in criminal cases. In CINA or CINS cases, the “preponderance of the evidence” standard is used. “Clear and convincing evidence” is the standard for termination of parental rights. Once a child is under the authority of Juvenile Court, the court keeps that authority until it is terminated, or until the child turns 21, whichever occurs first. Cases involving certain offenses by juveniles go directly to criminal court, although a judge may waive (transfer) the case to juvenile court. Among the offenses: • Children 14 or older who are charged with crimes which, if committed by an adult, are punishable by life in prison; • Children 16 or older charged with robbery or attempted robbery with a dangerous or deadly weapon; • Children 16 or older charged with non-jailable traffic/boating offenses. Media Guidelines for Covering Juvenile Cases The 1995 case, Baltimore Sun Co. v. State, has influenced how the media reports on juvenile cases. Guidelines include the following: • Court records of juveniles are confidential, and may only be opened by a court order, or for “limited educational purposes.” • To protect the privacy of the children involved, juvenile proceedings may be closed to the public. While a court can reasonably restrict the media’s use of information obtained from confidential juvenile proceedings, it cannot control the media’s use of materials obtained from other sources. It also cannot condition the media’s access to juvenile hearings in the newspaper, magazine, etc., publishing only the information specified by the court. While a Juvenile Court may decide to exclude the media from a proceeding, there are constitutional limitations to that power. Confidentiality of Juvenile Records The confidentiality of juvenile court records is governed by Courts and Judicial Proceedings (CJP) § 3-827 (for child in need of assistance [CINA] proceedings) and by CJP § 3-8A-27 (for delinquency, CINS and citation cases). Both statutes are similar – the child’s court record is confidential and its contents may not be disclosed, by subpoena or otherwise, without a court order for good cause shown or as provided by that statute. §§ 3-827(a)(1); 3-8A-27(b)(1).


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