Juvenile Fingerprinting In New York State:
Procedures and Record Use
- Fingerprintable offenses for 13 to 15 year olds were expanded to include all felony offenses (FCA §306.1). This amendment strengthens the State's ability to track the delinquent activity of juveniles who commit serious crimes.
- DCJS must now destroy appropriate juvenile records upon receipt of a disposition notification from the family court clerk rather than a court order directing record destruction as previously required (FCA §354.1). Similarly, local agencies must now seal juvenile case files based on disposition notification from the family court clerk (FCA §375.1). This amendment will prevent delays in record destruction and sealing.
- DCJS may no longer disseminate a juvenile arrest record on a rap sheet if the disposition information has not been reported within two years of the arrest date (FCA §354.1). This provision protects against the disclosure of arrest information that would have been destroyed if a disposition favorable to the respondent had been reported to DCJS.
Effective November 1, 1996, the Family Court Act (FCA §306.1) specifies that, following the arrest of a child alleged to be a juvenile delinquent, law enforcement agencies in New York State must fingerprint:
- Juveniles 13 to 15 years of age charged with any felony offense (Class A, B, C, D or E), and
- Juveniles 11 to 12 years of age charged with a Class A or B felony offense.
Along with the juvenile's fingerprints, certain personal identifier and arrest information must be recorded on the juvenile fingerprint card and the attached "stub" (OCA 501 J). When a juvenile is charged at arrest as a Juvenile Offender (JO), this information must be recorded on both adult and juvenile fingerprint cards (DCJS-2 and DCJS-2 JD, respectively) and on the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) fingerprint card.
The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) is the State's central repository for juvenile and adult fingerprint records. Upon taking a juvenile's fingerprints, agencies must forward the original juvenile and, when taken, the adult and FBI fingerprint cards to DCJS without unnecessary delay. The FBI card is then forwarded to the FBI. The police cannot retain the original fingerprints or copies of those prints [FCA §306.1( 4)]. Outside New York City, the stub, along with other relevant information, is forwarded to the agency where processing of the juvenile's case continues.
Juvenile fingerprints, along with
offender and arrest information from the fingerprint card, are stored in DCJS's
Computerized Criminal History (CCH) data base. DCJS must search this data base
for any information it has concerning a juvenile delinquency adjudication, adult
conviction, or pending matter for the fingerprinted juvenile. DCJS must then
promptly transmit a report --commonly referred to as a "rap sheet" --to the
arresting agency with the results of this search. DCJS also searches its data
bases containing missing person fingerprints and crime scene fingerprints.
Copies of the rap sheet must be shared with other appropriate agencies.
Upon receiving the rap sheet, the arresting agency must promptly transmit two copies to the family court and two copies to the presentment agency [FCA §306.2( 3)]. In turn, the presentment agency must furnish a copy of the rap sheet to the juvenile's law guardian or counsel. The probation department may request a copy of the rap sheet from DCJS for the purpose of preparing a pre-disposition report ordered by the court (FCA §351.1).
The agency that terminates the processing of a case must record how the case was disposed on the fingerprint card stub and then forward the stub to DCJS. New York City is excluded from this reporting process because its disposition data are submitted via a computer interface with DCJS. The stub of the fingerprint card is the only mechanism DCJS has to secure disposition data for cases outside New York City. The stub must be completed and returned to DCJS by:
- A law enforcement agency that does not refer a case for further legal processing;
- A probation department that adjusts a case at intake;
- A presentment agency that declines to file a petition in family court; or
- A family court when it disposes of a juvenile delinquency case. The court must also provide DCJS with the adjudication charge and disposition (type, length and date) when a finding of juvenile delinquency is entered.
A disposition is updated to DCJS's CCH data base and the fingerprints are retained when a juvenile delinquency finding is entered and --
- The adjudication charges include a felony offense and the juvenile was 13 to 15 years old when the fingerprintable offense was committed; or
- The adjudication charges include a Class A or B felony offense and the juvenile was 11 to 12 years old when the fingerprintable offense was committed (FCA §354.1).
Upon receiving notification that a case has been disposed in any other manner
than specified above, DCJS must destroy all records in its possession that pertain
to the case. In such instances, arresting agencies must also destroy any records
in their possession obtained pursuant to FCA §306.1.
The permanent retention status of adjudication records is usually determined when a youth reaches 21 years of age.
The adjudication record becomes a permanent part of a youth's adult criminal history record if he or she is subsequently convicted of a crime that occurs before his or her 21st birthday [FCA§ 354.1( 7)]. If no such criminal event occurs, the juvenile delinquency records must be destroyed forthwith when a youth reaches the age of 21, provided he or she has been discharged from placement for at least three years.
The Family Court Act requires arresting
agencies to forward juvenile fingerprints to DCJS. It also requires probation
departments [FCA §308.1( 12)] and law enforcement agencies, presentment agencies
and family courts (FCA §354.1) to submit case disposition information to DCJS
upon terminating the processing of a juvenile delinquency case. The failure
of arresting agencies to submit fingerprints impedes the State's ability to
track the delinquent activity of juveniles who commit serious crimes. When dispositions
are not reported, rap sheets lack juvenile delinquency adjudication information
that may be important for determining appropriate interventions.