Juvenile Court Process

After a juvenile is arrested by a police department, copies of the police report are forwarded to the State Attorney's office and probation department. If the juvenile is not currently on Probation or Court Supervision, the juvenile and parents/guardians will be mailed a Preliminary Conference Appointment and questionnaire.

At the Preliminary Conference Appointment, the Juvenile Intake Officer will gather information about the minor and family to prepare a Preliminary Conference Report for the State's Attorney. Once the report is completed and a copy is provided to the State's Attorney, the State's Attorney will decide whether the case is station adjusted, sent back to the probation department for a diversion program, or a juvenile court case is filed.

If a juvenile court case is filed, the juvenile and parents/guardians are mailed a first appearance court date. At the first appearance, the minor and parents are apprised of the charges and their rights. If the parents are unable to hire an attorney, a guardian ad litem is appointed to the juvenile and an appearance with counsel is set.

If the juvenile is found not guilty, the juvenile court case is closed and there is no juvenile record. If the juvenile is found guilty or pleads to the juvenile court case, he/she will be placed on Court Supervision or Probation. The juvenile and their parents/guardians will stop in the juvenile probation department prior to leaving the courthouse on the day he/she is placed on Court Supervision/Probation to fill out contact information. Then the juvenile's probation officer will mail the juvenile and their parents/guardians an appointment date and time. The parent/guardian must be present at the first appointment. The Court Order and all expectations will be explained at the first appointment.

Definitions


Probation-
a period of time, determined by the Court, in which testing or observing of a client’s conduct and character is done to ensure that the client completes conditions of the Court Order. There is a conviction/adjudication on the client’s record.


Court Supervision-
this is essentially the same as probation with the exception that if the client successfully completes the term ordered by the Court then there is no conviction/adjudication on the client’s record.


Conviction/Adjudication-
There is an official record of the case and findings when a background check is conducted.


Preliminary Conference Appointment-
an in-depth appointment in which a juvenile intake officer gathers information about the juvenile and family to identify risk and needs. No statement made during the conference about the offense may be admitted in a court proceeding against the minor prior to the minor being convicted. In addition, the minor will not be required to talk about the offense if s/he so desires.


Preliminary Conference Report-
This is the completed report using the information gathered during the Preliminary conference Appointment. This is an objective report about the minor and family used to help identify risk and needs.


Station adjusted-
This means that the case is closed and there is no official record in the juvenile’s background.


Diversion Program-
This is an agreement between the probation department, juvenile and juvenile’s parents/guardians that the juvenile will complete certain conditions and stay out of trouble with the law for a period of time. If the juvenile successfully completes the conditions, the arrest charges are not filed with the Juvenile Court System therefore there is not a juvenile record.


First appearance Court Date-
This is the first time that the minor and parents/guardians are to be in court on the alleged charges. The alleged charges and rights will be read to the juvenile and parents/guardians by the Judge. If the family cannot afford an attorney, an attorney will be appointed at this time.


Guardian ad litem-
This is an attorney representing the juvenile.


Appearance with Counsel-
This is the first time that the juvenile will be required in court with his/her attorney.