Third District Juvenile Court - Probation
Qualifications for Probation
- Probation is a sentencing category within the Juvenile Sentencing Guidelines Matrix.
- Youth qualify for probation based on the severity of the presenting offense, criminal history and aggravating or mitigating circumstances.
- Probation officers may also recommend to a judge that a youth be placed on probation if the officer can articulate that the youth's score on the Protective and Risk Assessment warrants such placement and that the services available through probation would address the youth's needs and are not available outside of probation.
- Probation officers shall make a sentencing recommendation to the judge based on the final guidelines calculation or other factors as stated above.
Placement on Probation
- Only a judge can order a youth to probation.
Principles of Probation
Probation is one of the many dispositional alternatives that a judge has available to use when juveniles appear before them for disposition. Probation is a legal status that allows a juvenile who has been adjudicated delinquent to remain in their home under certain conditions set forth by the Court and the probation division. These conditions are outlined in the Probation Order.
The mission of juvenile probation is "to protect the community from delinquency, to impose accountability for offenses committed, and to equip juvenile offenders with the required competencies to live productively and responsibly in the community."
Probation begins the moment a judge enters an order for probation. Probation is an indefinite period of time and can only be terminated by court order. At the court hearing, youth are placed on house arrest for two weeks as an alternative to being placed in detention (some youth are placed in detention depending on the seriousness of the crime). Usually within two working days, the youth and family will receive a phone call or visit from a probation officer who will set an appointment for an orientation during which time the youth will learn about the Probation Order, house arrest and drug testing.
The first month of probation is an assessment and planning phase in which the probation officer will interview the family and youth, and speak with school officials and allied agencies to gather as much information as possible in order to best help the youth and his or her family. This information will be entered into an assessment tool on the computer called the Protective and Risk Assessment (PRA). The PRA identifies each individual youth's risk factors and protective factors. Risk factors are those things that put youth at risk for future offending, and protective factors are those things that protect youth from future offending. The probation officer then identifies the top three risk factors that directly relate to the offense that brought the youth on probation. Those three risk factors become the focus of the correctional plan or set of goals that the youth must complete before successful discharge from probation. The philosophy behind this process is that if the youth changes the risk factors that brought him or her onto probation into protective factors, then they will most likely not be referred to juvenile court in the future. Following the first month, the youth are placed into high, medium or low levels of risk and supervised accordingly. The youth at highest risk to re-offend in the future will get the most supervision and services. During the months that follow, probation officers monitor the juvenile's compliance with court orders, and reports on the progress of each juvenile at court.