My experience has been that many parents and children do not take juvenile violations seriously. This is a big mistake. It has been my experience in criminal adult violations that judges always take into consideration the juvenile record of offenders, especially juvenile violent crimes.
Police can stop your child in public to investigate criminal or delinquent activity as long as the officers have a specific and articulated reason, in combination with surrounding facts, to justify a reasonable suspicion to make the stop. If the police believe your child may be a danger to themselves or others they can perform a frisk – a limited search on the outside of clothing – for weapons. Only if they feel something suspicious and weapon-like during the frisk can they continue to search your child’s person. If the police ask for your consent to search, always say no unless you consult with an attorney first. If taken into custody for a delinquent act, your child may be fingerprinted and photographed. During a police interrogation your child should say nothing and ask to speak with a lawyer immediately – even if they deny being involved in the alleged crime. Once they request a lawyer, the police must stop asking them questionsYou may be present if your child is being questioned by police. . It is not enough that the child ask for a parent, they must specifically ask for an attorney.
Once taken into custody, a youth is usually held at a county or multi-county run juvenile detention facility while the initial investigation, fingerprinting, etc. take place. Before being taken to a youth detention facility, a child may be held in a facility where adults are also held for up to 6 hours depending on the reason for their being in custody. The youths must be separated from the adults by both sight and sound. This happens very rarely, and probably will not be an issue for your child. In Ohio, juveniles have no right to be released on bail before a detention hearing. Instead, the court will look at certain factors and make the determination on whether the youth should be released. At a detention hearing, a judge or magistrate will consider whether to release or detain your child. Factors that could lead a judge to order your child to be detained include:
- He/she needs to be protected from immediate or threatened physical or emotional harm;
- He/she is a danger or threat to other persons and is charged with a violation that would be a crime if committed by an adult;
- He/she is considered a danger or threat to property; • He/she may leave the jurisdiction of the court; and
- He/she has no parents, guardian, or other person able to provide supervision and return the child to the court when required.
Arraignment: If your child is placed in detention, the arraignment hearing will occur at the same time as the detention hearing. If your child is not in detention, the arraignment hearing will occur at Juvenile Court. At the arraignment hearing your child is presented with the official complaint and is allowed to make a plea. The court will also advise the child of his or her rights in all proceedings in juvenile court on the charges. Those rights include the right to remain silent, the right to be represented by a lawyer and to have a lawyer appointed at no cost if the child is indigent as defined by state public defender guidelines, the right to have a trial on the charges in which the state must prove the child guilty by proof beyond a reasonable doubt, the right to challenge any evidence presented against the child, the right to confront and cross examine witnesses testifying against the child, the right to present evidence and the right to the compulsory attendance of witnesses. The child will also be required to enter a plea to the charges at this stage of the proceedings. Except in special circumstances the only pleas recognized in juvenile court are an admission and a denial. If your child admits to the charges, the next step will be the dispositional hearing.
Pleas & Plea Bargains
A plea is your child’s answer to the charge made against him/her.
• Your child can either admit or deny the charge.
• A plea takes place at the detention hearing or arraignment hearing.
• Denying the charge means the next hearing will be scheduled so your child’s case can proceed through the court process. Depending on your court’s local procedures, the next hearing will be either a pretrial hearing or an adjudication hearing (trial).
Agreement where the prosecutor, your child and your child’s attorney arrange to settle the case against your child. • Your child will agree to make an admission in exchange for some compromise such as reducing the original charge or charges, dismissing some of the charges, or agreeing to the disposition a court will likely impose on your child. • Allows the parties to agree on the legal matter before it goes before the judge, but there is no guarantee the court will follow the plea agreement.
The pretrial phase of the procedure takes place before the adjudication hearing. Depending on your jurisdiction’s procedure, your child’s case may or may not have a pretrial meeting or hearing. The purpose of the pretrial is to give the parties a chance to discuss the case and alternative methods of resolution.
Your child’s attorney may decide to request a competency evaluation if the attorney has concerns about your child’s ability to assist them or to fully understand the court proceeding. Usually the court will ask a mental health professional to assess whether your child is capable of consulting with and assisting their attorney and whether your child understands the charges and court proceedings. The court hears evidence on your child’s mental, emotional, social, and intellectual capacities and determines whether your child is able to assist his/her lawyer in his/her defense at trial and understand the court proceedings.
The adjudicatory hearing is to juveniles what trials are to adults. The adjudicatory hearing must be held within 15 days after the filing of the complaint if your child is detained. If your child is not detained, the hearing must be held within 60 days after the complaint was filed. This deadline may be extended under special circumstances or if your child’s attorney or the prosecutor moves for a continuance. At the adjudicatory hearing, your child will have the option of admitting that he/she committed the act that he/she has been charged with or contesting the charge by denying the charge. The judge or magistrate will decide if the juvenile committed the act for which he/she is charged. If the judge determines that your child did commit the act, the judge will set a date for a dispositional hearing. Your child may or may not be held in a detention center for the time period in between the adjudicatory hearing and the dispositional hearing. The judge will look at things like the seriousness of the offense committed, your child’s record, and your child’s living situation in determining where your child will stay while awaiting his dispositional hearing.
The dispositional hearing is similar to sentencing for an adult. At the hearing, the judge will decide on your child’s sentence. Between the adjudication and the dispositional hearings, a probation officer may complete a pre-sentence or dispositional investigation. During this investigation the probation officer will learn more about your child and write a disposition recommendation for the judge. The judge should provide a written court order within seven days stating what the judge or magistrate’s decision is for your child.
Possible dispositions for your child for misdemeanor or felony offenses include:
• 90 days sentence to a detention facility;
• Reprimanding (The judge will speak to your child about their behavior);
• Unsupervised Probation;
• Supervised Probation, with a probation officer, terms, and conditions;
• Placement in a residential facility;
• Placement in a community program;
Possible Dispositions applying only for Felonies:
• Ordering a child to serve time in a community correction facility (CCF); or
• Committing a child to the Ohio Department of Youth Services (DYS)
There are eight DYS facilities where judges may send youth found responsible for delinquent acts that would have been considered a felony if they had been an adult.
Youth adjudicated with a felony offense are typically sent (committed) to DYS for a period of either six months to age twenty-one or twelve months to age twenty-one. However some offenses may call for higher minimums of one to three years. These sentences are indeterminate, meaning that your child may be held up to their twenty-first birthday.
If a judge determines that your child committed the act with which he/she is charged, the judge may decide to place your child on probation. This means that your child will be released back into the community or your home with certain conditions. The probation department should provide your child with written “terms” of what your child must do while on probation.