The Two Files of a Juvenile Case

Did you know that there are two court files created for every juvenile court case in Arizona?  These two files are known as the “legal file” and the “social file” and they both serve a specific purpose.

The Arizona Rules of Procedure for the Juvenile Court, Rule 19.A.1, defines the legal file as follows:

“The legal file of the juvenile court shall consist of all pleadings, motions, minute entries, orders, or other documents as the court may order.  The legal file shall be open to public inspection without order of the court, except upon a finding by the court of a need to protect the welfare of the victim, another party or a clear public interest in confidentiality.  The court shall state its reasons for withholding the legal file, or portions thereof, from public inspection.”

It may be easiest to think of the legal file as a record of all of the court proceedings in a juvenile case.  It is important to note that this file is not closed to the public by default.  The court must specifically order a juvenile legal file to be withheld from public inspection and state its reasons for doing so.

The Arizona Rules of Procedure for the Juvenile Court, Rule 19.A.2, defines the social file as follows:

“The social file shall be maintained by the probation department and may consist of all social records, including diagnostic evaluations, psychiatric and psychological reports, treatment records, medical reports, social studies, child protective services records, police reports, predisposition reports, detention records, and records and reports or work product of the probation department for use by the court in formulating and implementing a rehabilitation plan for the juvenile and his or her family.  The social file of the juvenile shall be confidential and withheld from public inspection except upon order of the court.”

Note that unlike the legal file, the social file is withheld from the public by default unless the court specifically orders otherwise.

The Legal Jargon: Arizona Rules of Procedure for the Juvenile Court, Rule 19.A.1 and 19.A.2

The juvenile court process is much different and more complex than adult court.  If you or a loved one has been arrested for juvenile crimes, it is important to have an experienced juvenile criminal attorney on your side.  At Oracle Law Group, we have veteran juvenile lawyers on staff who can help you through this difficult time.  If your loved one is in trouble, do not wait.  Contact us today for your free consultation.  At Oracle Law Group we listen, we care, and we want to help.

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