Victim Services in the Utah Juvenile Court
The Utah Juvenile Court is aware of, and sensitive to, the rights and needs of victims of crime. The Court provides direct services to victims through notification and collection of restitution, holds offenders accountable for their behavior, educates offenders to the impact of crime on victims and trains staff regarding victims' legal rights and sensitivity to victims' issues.
This web site will provide general information for victims. However, as each judicial district processes cases somewhat differently it would be important to contact the district where you live to get more specific information.
Common Questions Most Often Asked by Victims of Crime
How does the Juvenile Court know about my case?
Once a crime occurs the police take a report and send the report to the Court if the juvenile offender is arrested. In most judicial districts the prosecuting attorney must first review the report to make sure there is enough information (legal sufficiency) to go further with the case. If so, the case is processed according to your judicial district's guidelines. Cases are usually assigned to a court worker for filing of a petition (Formal Court action) or other dispositions such as non-judicial closure (diversion). It is important to know that the juvenile court has a different case number than the police. Usually, the court cannot track your case without the juvenile offender's name.
What kind of information can I find out about my case?
You are entitled to receive information about your specific case including: case status, hearing dates, disposition (sentencing) information, court worker assigned to the case, placement information regarding the offender.
What kind of information can I find out about the juvenile offender/s involved?
You can be told general information such as "placed on probation", "in a treatment center", "in detention", etc.
What happens to the juvenile offender?
The Court has wide latitude in making decisions about the juvenile offender. Many factors are taken into consideration by the court such as: prior court history, type and number of crime/s committed, current status of the juvenile, etc. The Court can order many different things such as: that the juvenile be placed on probation, a custody change to the Utah Division of Juvenile Justice Services or the State Division of Child & Family Services, pay restitution to the victim, pay a fine or complete community service hours. The orders can be changed or modified if the juvenile fails to comply or other information becomes available.
Are all juvenile offenders locked up?
No. In fact very few juveniles are locked up for any length of time. Juveniles can be placed in a detention center when the crime occurs but usually for only short periods of time. Detention is designed to be a short term placement. If the crime is very serious or if the juvenile is "out of control" the court can order placement in a secure facility. Juveniles can also be ordered to stay at a work camp for up to 90 days.
What happens if my case is plea bargained away?
In most cases, if you have suffered a loss the prosecuting attorney will make sure that payment of your restitution is part of the agreement. It is very important that you notify the court of your losses as soon as possible so that they are considered.
Can I come to court hearings?
Yes, you may attend most court hearings such as arraignments, trials and disposition (sentencing). Some hearings are only open upon permission of the judge. As a rule, you need to notify the court if you want to attend a hearing. Call the court worker, prosecuting attorney involved or the court clerk.
Who will let me know about court hearings?
A court worker or victim advocate will notify you of upcoming court dates but you must let the court know you are interested in attending. At this time there is no system in place to automatically notify victims of hearings. Call the worker listed on your form letters or the victim advocate listed below for your district.
How does the court know of my losses and damages?
The court will send two form letters to victims: a Restitution (itemized loss) Statement and an Impact Statement. Once completed by the victim and returned to the court these forms are presented to the court for consideration in sentencing. It is important that the forms are returned as quickly as possible. If you have not received these forms contact the juvenile court in your area and request that they be sent to you.
If I am awarded restitution when and how will I get it?
In most cases, the juvenile offender makes payments directly to the Court on your behalf. The court then sends a check directly to you. Payments may come in small amounts over a period of time. The court tries very hard to make sure that the juvenile honors the restitution order in a timely manner. If the juvenile is very young, he or she may work on a district work crew. Hours worked on the work crew are converted to money for the victim. If more than one juvenile is involved in your case each juvenile may be ordered to pay a portion of your claim. It is very important that the court is notified if you move. Each year, thousands of dollars remain undeliverable as victims have moved and the court cannot find them.
Is there any way for my restitution to be paid early?
State law does not allow for victims to be paid out money before it has been paid to the court by the offender on behalf of the victim. There is no sum of money designated for this purpose. If a victim has personal injuries an application can be made to Crime Victims Reparations (CVR) to pay for medical expenses, etc. The juvenile can then be ordered to repay Crime Victims Reparations.
Why doesn't the court order restitution for lost wages?
Some courts will order reasonable lost wages; others do not and consider the issue best served in a civil court hearing such as small claims.
How can I get my property back from the police?
Often the police will keep your property until the court case is finished. Once you know that the case is over you can contact the officer who investigated your case and the officer will arrange for the property to be released to you. Your court worker should also be able to help you. You can only make a claim for restitution if the property is damaged beyond repair, for the amount to repair the item, or if you do not intend to claim the property later.
Do I have to make an insurance claim?
You are under no obligation to make an insurance claim for your losses. The decision to make a claim is a difficult one for victims. Juveniles can be ordered to pay for your total losses but if the amount is large it may take a very long time. The insurance company can file a claim against the juvenile and parents for the money it pays to cover your losses.
What is mediation and do I have to do it?
Mediation or mediated dialogue is an opportunity for the victim and juvenile offender to meet face to face with a third party neutral in a safe setting to talk about the harm caused by the offender and to discuss ways to repair the harm. The meeting is voluntary for both the victim and offender. If you wish to participate in mediation or want more information contact your court worker, victim advocate or the Administrative Office of the Courts Restorative Dialogue Program. This program is not available in all districts. Please refer to the Mediation web site for more information.
Resources for Victims
Juvenile Court Victim Coordinators & Victim Liaisons
Each Juvenile Court District has a victim coordinator or a victim liaison who is available to answer questions victims may have and to help victims through the Juvenile Court process. Please refer to the following list to find the victim coordinator or victim liaison for your geographical area:
- Information for Victims of Crime (pamphlet)
- Victim's Guide to Legal Terms in the Juvenile Court
- Glossary of Legal Terms
- Mediation Programs
- Office of Crime Victims Reparations (CVR) 1-800-621-7444
The Office of Crime Victims Reparations can provide advance payment to victims for loss due to severe and violent crime including costs associated with medical bills, counseling, and other safety needs. Please contact the Office of Crime Victims Reparation or your local county's victim advocate for eligibility requirements and to apply for CVR services.
Victim Services Offices
Most counties across the state of Utah have a Victim Services Office. Victim Advocates can assist victims with Crime Victims Reparations (CVR) application forms, help victims complete victim impact statements and itemized loss statements, provide referrals for counseling, attend Court hearings with victims and help victims find out information about their case.
Children's Justice Centers (attorneygeneral.utah.gov)
Children's Justice Centers are located in several counties across the state. They serve as a neutral, safe, and comfortable place for children who have been abused or neglected to be interviewed by law enforcement, prosecutors, and the Division of Child & Family Services. Most Children's Justice Center's have victim advocates on site to assist families with available resources for victims of crime.
- The National Center for Victims of Crime
- Office for Victims of Crime (OVC)
- National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA)
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.