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Ask TexCrimLawyer, J.D. Your Own Question
TexCrimLawyer, J.D.
TexCrimLawyer, J.D., Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 4821
Experience:  Experienced in state and federal criminal litigation.
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Can a police officer verbally give the name(s), of juveniles

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Can a police officer verbally give the name(s), of juveniles (under 18), involved in a misdemeanor neighborhood vandalism offense, to school teachers, coaches or any school administrator? A police report was written but no formal charges have been filed. At the time of the incident, I was told by the juvenile officer, it was unlawful for them to disclose the name(s) of minors, to anyone not involved in the case. Today, I discovered a different officer, when questioned by a school official, disclosed the names of all involved.

TexLawyer :

Hello. I'll be assisting you with your question.

Customer:

Hello.

TexLawyer :

Has the school done anything, or were they just made aware?

Customer:

His football coach is determining the punishment but has warned if another offense happens, he'll be dismissed from the team.

TexLawyer :

OK. There are a couple of issues here.

TexLawyer :

First off, police officers or police departments are generally not allowed to disclose juvenile records, but, as with most rules involving juveniles, there are many exceptions.

Customer:

So it's no simple as "no disclosure."

TexLawyer :

One of those exceptions in nearly every state allows police disclosure to the child's school. For example, say the child had been accused of arson, sexual assault, or something similar. Clearly, in those situations, the police department would have an obligation to disclose that to the school. While this situation is clearly a relatively minor offense, the same principles apply. Many police departments have blanket rules on this: all offenses get reported to the schools. This is especially true in larger cities.

TexLawyer :

No, unfortunately, it isn't that simple.

Customer:

If this is the case in my community, should I question the juvenile officer concerning his previous statement about not disclosing names or just let it go.

TexLawyer :

The second issue here is that even if it was an improper disclosure, you don't have any real damages to speak of. In other words, even if you were to bring suit, there would not be anything to sue for. This hasn't cost him in any way - at least not yet.

TexLawyer :

You can certainly speak to them about it to determine what their office policy is, but there weren't any laws broken. That officer may have been confusing office policy with actual law.

Customer:

Thanks for you time.

TexLawyer :

Glad to help. I wish I had better news for you, but I can only give an honest assessment.

Customer:

I completely understand. Even if they'd unlawfully disclosed his name, I wasn't looking to bring a suit against the police department. I just wanted a little more clarification before I speak to anyone concerning this issue.

TexLawyer :

I don't think you would be out of line seeking clarification, but at least now you have a better idea of what to expect and how to approach them.

TexLawyer :

FYI, I'd be pretty upset with them too if it were my child.

Customer:

It's definitely tough but sometimes they need to learn a lesson...Thanks again.

TexCrimLawyer, J.D. and 4 other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you