About Juvenile Charges

Juvenile charges are very unique. When a child under the age of 18 is arrested for a crime, they are referred to the juvenile court. The juvenile court procedure is similar to that of an adult court. However there is no right to a jury trial and the speedy trial period runs in 21 days.

The first part of the process is the detention review. Individuals from the Department of Juvenile Justice determine if the child should be sent home with the parent or kept in the secure facility. Juveniles are not housed in the jail. If it is found that they need to be kept in a secure facility they are taken to the detention center. If they can not go home, and they do not qualify for secure detention, then the child is sent to a shelter.

After the detention review, there is an arraignment. The arraignment is similar to the arraignment for an adult. At the arraignment the juvenile enters a plea of guilty or not guilty. If they plea guilty they are scheduled for a disposition hearing. If they plea not guilty they are set for trial.

In juvenile court there are no jury trials. The judge determines the guilt or innocence of the child. If they are found not guilty the case is over and the child goes home. If the juvenile is found guilty, a disposition hearing is scheduled.

A disposition hearing is similar to that of an adult sentencing hearing. At a disposition hearing, the juvenile probation officer makes a recommendation as to the proper sentence. In most cases that is the sentence imposed by the court.

There are also “status offenses” that can be committed by a juvenile. These are offenses that would not be crimes if they were committed by an adult. Truancy, running away from home and being out past curfew are examples of status offenses. These offenses do not have criminal sanctions, but they are handled in the juvenile court.

Posted in: Juvenile