The Juvenile Court Process
Experience is the worst teacher; it gives the test before presenting the lesson.
- Vernon Law
Juvenile Court Referral
Alleged offenses can be reported to the Juvenile Court by the police, or anyone having knowledge of a delinquent act. At the court, cases are assigned to an intake officer who meets with both the juvenile and his/her parents to determine what action is necessary.
If the child admits the charges, the intake officer can recommend that the case be arraigned before a judge or, if the crime is less serious, the officer can develop a non-judicial contract, in which case a financial penalty, not to exceed $100.00 may be assessed, service hours in the community may be assigned and/or specific education classes may be required.
When deciding which of these to choose, the intake officer considers the seriousness of the current charges, the child's past history, the family situation, the child's attitude, and the child's level of progress in school. Also, the way that the parents and the child have handled the situation before coming to the appointment is a very important factor in determining what happens next.
If the child denies the charges the intake officer will refer the matter to the County Attorney's office for further investigation. The County Attorney's office will determine whether to proceed with the case, amend the charge(s) or dismiss the matter entirely.
At What Age Can a Youth be Referred to Juvenile Court?
There are several factors with regard to a youth being referred to juvenile court. One factor is: the nature of he referral. Youth as young as age 8 can be referred to juvenile court for such things as shoplifting, destruction of property, etc. The Juvenile Court can retain jurisdiction over an individual referred until age 21 and beyond. The Juvenile Court also has jurisdiction regarding adults, if they owe fines or restitution. An individuals court obligation does not go away just because they turn 18 years of age.
There are juvenile court offenses that can be handled without court intervention, these are called "bailable offenses". These may include curfew citations, traffic-related offenses, 1st Alcohol offenses,1st Tobacco citations and minor offenses that are cited by the Division of Parks & Recreation and the Division of Wildlife Resources.
What occurs during the arraignment hearing, and who can attend?
Upon filing of a petition, the clerk will schedule an arraignment and notice of hearing will be mailed to you.
- An arraignment shall be held within 30 days from the filing of the petition, or within 10 days if the minor is held in detention, unless otherwise ordered by the court.
- At the arraignment the Court shall inform the minor and the minor's parent or guardian or custodian of the following:
- of their right to further time.
- of the nature and elements of each allegation contained in the petition;
- of their right to retain counsel, or if indigent, to have counsel appointed by the court;
- of their right to a reasonable time to consult with counsel before entering a plea;
- of the minor's right against self incrimination; and
- that the state has the burden to prove the allegations in the petition beyond a reasonable doubt.
- After the juvenile and parents are informed of the above information, the Court will ask the juvenile to admit or deny the allegation(s).
The juvenile must be accompanied by a legal parent/guardian. Juvenile Court proceedings are generally closed to the public. The public may attend on certain occasions if the presiding judge feels it is appropriate. If a youth is 14 years of age or older, and commits a felony the hearing can be attended by the public. Also, if the juvenile is 14 years or older and is charged with a Class A or B misdemeanor, and has been charged with a class A or B misdemeanor or felony in the past, the hearing is opened to the public.
If the juvenile admits the allegation(s), consequences may be given by the Court of the following, but are not limited to, community service hours, fines, restitution, detention time, probation, state supervision, community placement or secure care, etc.
This hearing is a meeting in court between the prosecuting attorney, who represents the State, and the accused and his/her attorney, if (s)he has an attorney, to decide how or if a trial will be conducted.
A pretrial date is set after the County Attorney's Office has reviewed the matter and determined that it should go before the Judge. The purpose of the "pre-trial" is to limit the scope of the trial proceedings.
During the pre-trial hearing, the Court advises the parent, guardian or custodian of the minor's rights and of the authority of the Court in such cases.
A trial is a procedure where the accused has the chance to call witnesses to speak on behalf of the accused. The accused does not have to testify unless he or she wants to do so. At the end of the trial, the judge considers all the facts presented to decide the guilt or innocence of the accused. http://www.utcourts.gov/resources/rules/urcp/urcp045.html
Duty of witness served with subpoena. A witness served with a subpoena; must attend at the time appointed and bring with them any documents under his/her control required by the subpoena, and answer all pertinent and legal questions; and, unless sooner discharged, must remain until the testimony is closed.
Juvenile records may be inspected by persons who have a legitimate interest in the proceedingsunder the following conditions: If a petition is filed charging a minor 14 years of age or older with an offense that would be a felony if committed by an adult, the court shall make available to any person upon request the petition, any adjudication or disposition orders, and the delinquency history summary of the minor charged unless the records are closed by the court for good cause. Upon a motion properly submitted the Court may release any record on any juvenile regardless of the offense severity or age of the juvenile based on good cause.
The Utah State Courts mission is to provide the people an open, fair, efficient, and independent system for the advancement of justice under the law.