View Full Version : BOLOs and Locked Files

05-29-2010, 03:27 PM
hoping someone out there can help me with the following questions. They spring from 2 of my books...

1) Who has the authority to issue a BOLO? Does a Homicide Detective or does this get routed through a superior (ex. a Serg or Lieutenant)

2) When a criminal file is locked, who does this? Court order? Does someone higher up in the police department have the authority to view it with a password (ex. the Chief of Police).

2b) and related to the last question, if it is a court order that locks a person's file, is a court order all that can reopen it?

05-29-2010, 04:37 PM
IMO 2b and the court order part of 2 will vary state by state. Item 1 varies dept by dept.

So research pertinent state code for 2b. For 1, do it however best fits your story.


05-29-2010, 05:12 PM
BOLOs can be issued for any number of reasons. If a robbery just occurred, the first patrol officer on the scene may issue the BOLO, or the 911 operator may collect the information while on the phone and pass it over to the radio dispatcher. In the case of an Amber alert, the original BOLO could go out from the patrol officer, but to be upgraded to an Amber Alert, a supervisor would make that call. BOLOs resulting from investigations, would be originated by the investigating detective.

If the court seals a case, the court would need to unseal it.

05-29-2010, 05:56 PM
Court records (or part of the record) are sealed for a wide variety of issues. Depending upon why the case is sealed, depends upon how the information is released. For instance, a juvenile file can be released simply by the juvenile, who is now an adult, authorizing it. Other records are next to impossible to release. And the police are never, ever going to get into some records.

So your starting point should always be "Why was the file sealed?" Next question is "Can this information be obtained in any other way?" Last question is "Why should the file be unsealed?" Once you have the answer to these questions, you can start figuring out how to get the information.

Realize that are the stuff that is seriously sealed, there will be absolutely no public record of the fact that there is something sealed, and other than the parties to the case, no one will even know about it.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

05-29-2010, 06:11 PM
thank you guys.

it's the record of my VIC that's sealed. it was sealed because of his father's power/influence over authorities. on top of it the VIC was under 18 when he committed the offence (which was a DUI)....(all of this comes out later)

The VIC was originally unidentified but the print brought up the file, gave a number and that it was locked....that's why they need in it.

guess that leads to another question....

Are criminal files given numbers? I have them take this number and go to the Chief of Police.....You know how you see it on CSI...a flashing box will come up - "Record sealed" or something to that affect...

I might have to revamp this....it's in my last book which I just finished. lots of time to work things out.

05-29-2010, 10:24 PM
You might have to revamp this a whole lot. It's going to depend upon how accurate you want it to be.

Here's a classic scenario that designed to baffle the crap out of people. Fifteen-year-old kid, with a clean record, is convicted of DUI and stolen car. As a juvenile, he's entitled to his record being sealed. Right?

Wrong. Sort of. His car theft will be sealed as a juvenile record. Nothing will appear about that. His DUI on the other hand, will be placed upon his motor vehicle record. And this is a permanent record. If he stays clean for fifty years, he still can't get it removed.

Further, the information will be released by the motor vehicle department in accordance with normal policy. If it is normally supplied to newspapers, his name will be too. It can be published by the newspapers. His age will not effect the distribution of his name one bit.

Further, at the time of his arrest, the police can release news that he's drunk. Let's say he trashes the car in a newsworthy fashion. The police can announce his name to the public and the fact he's drunker than a skunk. What the police will refuse to comment on is how he got the car, i.e., stealing it.

Driving offenses always appear on your driving records, and driving records are quasi-public documents. Employers have a right to request them and rely on them as being accurate. Newspapers can request them for stories (five time convicted drunk wrecks again!). Auto insurance companies use them to set rates.

In addition, a DUI nearly always requires a suspended driver's license. In the case of the fifteen-year-old, a judge would probably suspend his license for two or three years, making it impossible for him to legitimately get a license until he is seventeen or eighteen, instead of the more normal sixteen. Again, this information has to be available to the police and public.

So the only way dad could seal junior's record is going to be very expensive. He would have to bribe the judge, the clerk of the court, the police officer, probably people at motor vehicle, and I'm not sure there wouldn't be others. And the seal would last until a clerk at court looked at the record. Definitely only the original judge, probably only with additional funds from dad, would keep it sealed. And the investigation that would happen would be serious.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

05-30-2010, 03:10 AM
What jclarkdawe said.

Added: In California, there is technically no such thing as a sealed (or locked, as you call it) juvenile criminal record. If someone is convicted or they plead guilty to two felony crimes as an adult, the prosecutor can pick apart their juvenile criminal record to slap on additional time as a three-strikes offender, putting the criminal in state prison for up to twenty-five years.

It's also highly unlikely (if not completely improbable) for anyone to have the influence to keep their child's criminal history 'locked.' Even though you didn't specifically ask about California, the url below links to a general explanation of how our three-strikes law works, and how juvenile criminal histories are used to determine sentencing for adult criminals.


05-30-2010, 03:47 AM
thank you guys. i'll have to do some thinking on this...the part about it being expensive isn't a problem in the sense daddy is a billionaire that owns an investment firm...but now what I'm thinking is couldn't he just eradicate the charges before they became official? I still might have to come up with another way to get his identity revealed - oh well I love challenges :)

05-30-2010, 04:26 PM
If the DUI was local, the arrest was local, they could plea everything down to a parking violation. They would have the entire record expunged, including the fingerprints. This would kill your first scenario regarding how they stumbled upon the original crime.

I don't know where you're trying to go with the original crime, but I think it's a dead end.

05-30-2010, 05:26 PM
I was just using it as a springboard for ID'ing the VIC. it's not a major crux in my story in the sense that I can just have the record be unlocked - not too big of a deal thank heavens.