January 13, 2023

Federal Act May Send Juvenile Records Requests to Local Agencies

On June 25, 2022, the federal Safer Communities Act of 2022 became law. Effective Nov. 14, 2022, the bill requires the FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) section to query local law enforcement agencies for juvenile records. NICS is required to make this query when any federal firearms licensee initiates a background check for a potential firearm transferee under the age of 21.

The NICS query requests juvenile criminal, delinquency, mental health, and commitment information that might disqualify an individual from receiving or possessing a firearm pursuant to 18 U.S.C. 922. However, the act does not trump state law protections against the disclosure of juvenile court records.

NICS released a bulletin to law enforcement agencies in November of 2022. The bulletin cautions local agencies to “[p]lease consider any restriction imposed by state or agency laws before providing juvenile information when appropriate.” KRS 610.340 prohibits the release of the records specified on the NICS query form absent a court order unless the juvenile is tried as an adult.

Local law enforcement agencies in Kentucky that receive a query for these juvenile records from NICS should fill out the form and indicate that the records are prohibited from production under KRS 610.340.