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Juvenile Court: An Introduction for Kids and Families

Juvenile court, don't know much about it - right?

Whether you have a friend, family member, or you yourself are facing the court, this resource was created to help you understand juvenile court by teaching you about:

  • The processes involved with juvenile court
  • The people of juvenile court
  • What happens in juvenile court


Why a Juvenile Court?

Unlike adult criminal courts which are criminal in nature, the juvenile courts are civil courts. The reason for this difference is because juvenile court, rather than simply punishing kids, also exists to protect the community while rehabilitating young people charged with breaking the law.

So, just how different is juvenile court from adult court?

  • Many hearings are closed to the public in order to protect the youth's privacy. For example, special care is taken to shield the child from publicity.
  • Juveniles do not have the right to request jury trials
  • Juveniles cannot post bail to leave detention.
  • Intake and probation officers who handle juveniles are court employees under the judicial branch.

Read Utah Code §78A-6-102 about the purpose of the juvenile court.


What Exactly Happens in Juvenile Court?

The juvenile court oversees two types of cases:

Delinquency Cases:
When Kids Get In Trouble

Dependency Cases:
When Parents Get in Trouble

  • Class A Misdemeanors and Felonies
  • Class B or Class C Misdemeanors and Infractions
  • Violations of Tobacco and Alcohol Laws
  • Other Infractions or Misdemeanors Identified by the General Order of the Board of Juvenile Court Judges
  • Violations of Curfew Laws
  • Class B Misdemeanor or Lesser Traffic Violation (For children under the age of 16)
  • Violation of Boating Laws
  • Violations of Fish & Game Laws
  • Dependency cases involve children who have been neglected, abused, and who are dependent.
  • For more information, contact the juvenile court administrator, or your defense attorney.


Read Utah Code §78A-6-103 about the jurisdiction of the juvenile court.


The Rights of a Juvenile in Juvenile Court


Your Rights in Juvenile Court

  1. The right to appear in person to defend yourself.
  2. The right to know the state's accusations against you.
  3. The right against self incrimination.
  4. The right to a speedy trial and for time to prepare a defense. The court has to tell you about any court hearings that involve you.
  5. The right for you and any witness to tell your side of the story.
  6. The right to ask questions of the people accusing you.
  7. The right to an appeal - to ask a higher court to decide whether or not your judge was right if he or she found you guilty.