Juvenile Justice Process

  • Civil Citation or Similar Prearrest Diversion Program

    When juveniles (under 18 years of age) commit misdemeanor crimes, they may be eligible to participate in a civil citation or similar prearrest diversion program.  If a juvenile successfully completes the program, then the charges are dismissed.

  • Intake

    When juveniles commit crimes that are not eligible for a civil citation or similar prearrest diversion program, the law enforcement officer may initiate charges by sending a complaint to the State Attorney’s Office (SAO) or the officer may take the juveniles into custody.   Depending on the type of crime, juveniles may be released to their parents or taken into custody and taken to a juvenile assessment center where they will be screened for detention. Depending on the charge and based on an assessment of risk to the public and the needs of the juveniles, they may be placed on any of three forms of detention status: home, non-secure or secure. If placed in secure detention they will be held in a secure facility for a period of time determined by the court based on statutory guidelines.

  • Diversion Programs

    During the intake process, the Department of Juvenile Justice will review the charges and will make recommendations to the State Attorney’s Office. If the SAO agrees, the charge can be handled without going to court and can be diverted to a community based program.  If a juvenile successfully completes the diversion program, then the charges are generally dismissed.

  • Formal Charges

    The State Attorney’s Office may decide to formally charge the juvenile by filing a petition in the juvenile court. If the charge is especially serious, and if the facts meet statutory guidelines, the SAO can file the charges directly in the adult court or take it before the grand jury for indictment.

  • Formal Hearings

    Once the SAO files a petition in the juvenile court, the case is set for an arraignment where the juvenile will enter a plea. If the juvenile pleads not guilty, then the case is set for an adjudicatory hearing before the juvenile judge. An adjudicatory hearing is like a trial but the judge determines the guilt; there is no jury. If the judge finds that the juvenile committed the offense, the court can then either adjudicate the juvenile delinquent or withhold adjudication.

  • Deposition Hearing (Sentencing)

    When a juvenile is found to have committed a delinquent act the court will hold a disposition hearing to determine which sanctions to impose on the juvenile. The sanctions could range from community-based sanctions like probation and community services up to residential commitment.

  • Juveniles Tried as Adults

    Juveniles who are prosecuted as adults may be sentenced to adult or juvenile sanctions. After a hearing, the court will decide on the sentencing or disposition. Any juvenile who is prosecuted and sentenced as an adult, regardless of age, will be treated as an adult in any future criminal proceedings. However, juveniles who are prosecuted as adults but sentenced as juveniles keep their status as juveniles.