A record of a juvenile adjudication can generally only be used in:
- A juvenile justice proceeding against the individual
- An adult punishment phase proceeding against that former juvenile; and
- A civil commitment proceeding.
Exceptions to the general rule include:
- Impeaching the juvenile in a juvenile proceeding; and
- When Constitution demands admission of the juvenile adjudication.
When these juvenile adjudications are offered into evidence at a later trial, they need to satisfy the authentication requirement. To preserve error on appeal, a defense lawyer will have to make a contemporaneous objection to the admission of juvenile adjudication during the punishment hearing.
The State can subpoena public school records for juvenile prosecutions. The defense can subpoena these kinds of records as well, and if the subpoena is resisted, ask the trial court to inspect them.
Juvenile adjudications for a felony offense that resulted in TYC commitment can be used for non habitual adult enhancement purposes, as long as the conduct that resulted in the adjudication occurred after January 1, 1996. If these records are not sealed, they can be inspected by the prosecution under Family Code Section 58.003(k). Unlike a prior felony conviction for an adult, a juvenile felony adjudication will not make an adult criminal defendant ineligible to apply for partition from the jury
Finally, the Prosecution has not duty to conduct a search of juvenile records not in its possession nor to look for impeaching evidence on minor witnesses for the State.
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