Q&A: Names of minors in accidents

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From The Paper of Montgomery County (Crawfordsville):

Q: A car struck a 16-year-old, and the police chief has refused to release the name of the teen.

Does he have a legal basis for keeping the name secret?  

A: No. Under the daily log or report provision for law enforcement agencies under the Access to Public Records Act (IC 5-14-3-5), the name and age of a victim in an incident reported to the police where there may be an infraction or crime must be included in the report made available to the public.

Traffic accident reports also must include the identity of anyone injured and are available for public inspection (IC 9-26-2-2 and IC 9-26-2-3).

The chief may be confused by the fact that the names of juveniles involved with criminal activity may have their names kept confidential unless the petition alleging juvenile delinquency filed with the court is for an action that would be a felony if committed by an adult.

But that level of confidentiality doesn’t apply to victim of accidents or crimes unless it’s a sex crime.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.

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