It's every parent's nightmare, but all too often kids wind up in juvenile court. These courts have different sets of rules than adult courts, and consequently, parents don't have any idea of what to expect. Below is some important information about the juvenile justice system that parents may find helpful.
Your child doesn't have to break a law to get on the juvenile court's radar. In addition to being arrested by the police, parents and guardians — as well as school authorities — can refer troubled kids to juvenile court.
Each case is evaluated by an intake officer who then determines what, if any, further action will be necessary. They can refer the child and family to social service agencies for monitoring, or recommend a case be formally adjudicated in juvenile court. In very serious cases, juveniles can be detained in correctional facilities for minors until the case is resolved.
Possible resolution to a juvenile matter can include alternative placements of the at-risk juvenile in foster or group homes or shelters. Sometimes it won't get that far and juveniles can undergo counseling or partake of other services provided by youth service agencies.
When it winds up in juvenile court, kids have the same right to an attorney to represent them as adults do. Judges can dismiss cases or make a ruling that the child is a delinquent or status offender. Probation may result instead of incarceration.
If you have a child in such a situation, his or her future hangs in the balance. Retaining competent counsel to represent your juvenile can allow him or her a second chance before a life is ruined.
Source: Findlaw, "What to Expect: Juvenile Court Chronology," accessed Sep. 30, 2016