Youth under the age of 18 alleged to have broken the law are
respondents in Juvenile Delinquency cases. Juvenile respondents, are considered
innocent until proven “responsible” by a “beyond a reasonable doubt”
standard. Youth have the right to have a jury trial on all of the charges
before the Court.
The Court’s role is to support the current and future safety of
the community by providing services to support the success of youth and their
families in avoiding future system involvement. The Court works to provide the
most effective services, at the lowest cost to the community and to families,
and in a way that keeps youth in their homes, schools, and the community
Families may retain an
attorney at any point in the process. To obtain a Court Appointed Attorney you
must complete a Request for Appointment of Attorney and a Financial Statement
and return the signed originals to Juvenile Court. You can get those forms at Court. You will receive a copy of the Order Appointing an Attorney. You will be responsible for this attorney’s fees.
A series of hearings take place. The family is advised of rights
to consult with an attorney at any point. The first hearing is a Preliminary
Inquiry, to determine if further action should be taken. This
is usually scheduled within two weeks of when the petition is filed with the Court and is an informal hearing, not on the record, in front of a Juvenile
Hearing Officer, not a judge or referee. The purpose is to review the petition,
determine whether it is likely that the petition will be authorized, and
consider options. Next steps might
- Continued Preliminary Inquiry: Continue to gather information and discuss the case to decide on the
appropriate course of action.
- Preliminary Hearing or Pre-Trial:
At either of these types of hearings, the Court will decide whether to
“authorize” the petition (make a finding that there is probable cause to
believe that the allegations are true) and one of three things happens:
Trial: The Juvenile has a right to a bench
trial before the Referee or the Judge, or a Jury Trial before the Judge.
juvenile will admit responsibility to the original allegations.
- A plea
agreement is reached OR,
- The case moves to the next step, which is Trial.
has a team of dedicated and experienced Juvenile Probation Officers who get
involved in the case as early as appropriate to get to know the youth/family, assess for strenghts and needs, gather information from other
sources such as school and service providers, and make a recommendation to the
At a Disposition Hearing, the Court issues orders that must be
followed. These orders generally include that the youth must meet regularly
with the Probation Officer, and must participate in certain services or
experiences that are designed to address the specific issues identified in the
assessment. In some cases, parents are also ordered to participate in services.