Formal Process

After the filing of a petition in delinquency and the forwarding of a copy of the petition to the juvenile, parents, and attorney (if the juvenile is represented), a probation officer will schedule an appointment for an interview with above parties. It is at this time the probation officer will review the petition filed with the parents and child and advise them of their constitutional rights. If the juvenile desires to remain silent or denies the charge(s) cited within the petition, the case will then be scheduled for an adjudication hearing only. However, if the juvenile admits the charge(s), then the case will be scheduled for an adjudication / disposition hearing.

Consent Decree
A process by which the court orders the juvenile to remain in his own home under the terms and conditions negotiated with the juvenile probation office and agreed by all parties affected. If the juvenile fulfills the obligations agreed upon in the consent decree and completes the period of supervision without reinstatement, the juvenile shall not undergo proceedings in any court for the same offense alleged in the petition.

Adjudication Hearing
A hearing where the court determines if in fact the charge(s) filed are substantiated beyond a reasonable doubt. If the juvenile is found to have committed the charge(s), the case is then scheduled for a disposition hearing. However, if the court finds that the commonwealth has not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the juvenile committed the charge(s) then the court will dismiss the petition in delinquency.

After the adjudication hearing and prior to the disposition hearing, the probation officer is responsible for investigating the background of the juvenile, family, school records, employment, and any other agency involvement. The juvenile may receive a psychiatric / psychological and/or drug / alcohol evaluation to determine if there are any exceptional problems or concerns. This information is compiled into a psycho-social case history which is presented to the court at the disposition hearing. Additionally, the probation officer will make a recommendation to the court as to the needs of the juvenile.

Disposition Hearing
It is at this time, the court decides what is for the best interest of the juvenile, family, and community. In doing so, the court will review the case records, psychiatric / psychological, drug / alcohol evaluation, and any other relevant information provided by those in attendance. The court will acknowledge those who wish to provide additional information concerning the juvenile and the issues before the court. Possible hearing outcomes are:
  • Dismissal - In this case the court does not find the juvenile delinquent and the juvenile is released from the jurisdiction of the court.
  • Probation (Regular, Intensive, or School-Based) - A process whereby the juvenile is placed on probation under the supervision of the juvenile probation office subject to the conditions, rules and limitations as prescribed by the court. These conditions, rules and limitations may include court costs, loss of driver's license, restitution to the victim, and involvement in special court services (i.e., Sex Offender Program, Intensive Probation Services. Impaired Drivers Program, Volunteers and Community Services, Drug and Alcohol, and Special Offender Services).
  • Commitment - This occurs when the court believes that placement outside the juvenile's home is necessary for the treatment and rehabilitation of the juvenile. This may involve foster care, group home care, private institutional care, public institutional care, alternative to secure care, or secure care. The aforementioned services are all 24 hour care programs. Whenever the juvenile is placed outside the home, the court will direct the parents to meet with the Domestic Relations Office to determine whether or not financial support will be required from them.