What is the juvenile justice system?

The juvenile justice system is the branch of the court set up to deal specifically with children. The theory is that children are not fully developed and need different consideration and services than that of an adult.

The juvenile justice system has two branches. First there is a branch that deals with “delinquency.” Delinquency is the criminal branch that deals with a child’s criminal conduct when they commit crimes. The Department of Juvenile Justice (“DJJ”) is a part of this branch. DJJ provides the detention facility, probation officers and alternative programs for the juvenile offenders.

Then there is a separate branch called “dependency.” Dependency deals with the welfare of children who may be abused or neglected. The Department of Children and Family Services (“DCF”) participates in this branch. DCF holds hearings called “Shelter hearings” when they want to take a child out of a home that is considered dangerous or neglectful to a child.

Sometimes these two areas overlap. Because of this the same judge rules over all proceedings. This gives the court a full picture of the child’s background and history, allowing the judge to make a more appropriate ruling should the child become delinquent.

Posted in: Juvenile