Juvenile court cases

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What are Juvenile Courts like?

Juvenile Courts are different in some ways  from adult courts. Attempts are made to protect the juvenile’s privacy,  so many of the hearings are closed to the public. Generally, only the  juveniles and their parents are present at the hearing. At least one  legal guardian must attend, unless the child is a ward of the state. The  probation officer also attends. Juvenile Court hearings are less formal  than trials held in adult courts. Juveniles do not have the right to a  jury trial, nor can they post bail in order to get out of detention,  unless they are from out of the state.

Juvenile Courts are  similar to adult courts in that the courts are required to meet  constitutional requirements of due process. Juveniles must be notified  of all the charges against them and must be given the chance to call and  cross-examine witnesses. They have the right to an attorney and the  right against self-incrimination.

What Happens to a Juvenile’s Record?

Generally, only the juvenile, the parents,  and the attorney representing the juvenile have access to a juvenile’s  record. If a youth is 14 or older and commits a felony, certain parts of  his or her records are available on request. The Juvenile Court may  consider past records to determine dispositions for new offenses. If a  youth is later convicted in an adult court, his or her record may be  made available to adult probation and parole for use in preparing their  pre-sentencing report.

To expunge a Juvenile Court record, the  juvenile must pay a filing fee and request an expungement hearing at  least one year from the date jurisdiction ended. The judge may expunge  the record if the juvenile has stayed out of trouble during the year and  has reached the age of 18.

How do cases reach Juvenile Court?

Alleged offenses are generally first  reported to the Juvenile Court by the police. At the court, cases are  assigned to an intake juvenile probation officer who meets with both the  juvenile and his or her parents to determine what action is necessary.  If the juvenile denies the charge, the probation officer will set a time  for a hearing with a judge.

If the juvenile admits to the  charge, the intake officer has two options, depending on a number of  factors including the severity of the offense, the family situation, and  the juvenile’s age and past record. The officer may set a time for the  juvenile and the parents to have a court hearing with a judge or the  officer may develop a non-judicial contract that out- lines how the  juvenile will be held accountable for the offense that was committed. If  the contract is fulfilled, the juvenile’s case will not go to court.

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