Arraignment & Trial: What to Expect


The arraignment or the pre-trial conference are hearings before the judge that will allow the juvenile to either admit or deny the allegations listed in the petition.


What Happens Next?

It depends on whether the juvenile...

ADMITS to the Charges

DENIES the Charges

This is an acknowledgement of guilt for the actions. Next, the court will issue a dispositional order which is an order of the juvenile court determining what is to be done with the juvenile following court proceedings. This process is comparable to sentencing in an adult court. Read the "Dispositional Hearing" section below for more details as to what the judge may order for the juvenile.

If the juvenile denies the charge and pleads "Not true" to the allegations, then a trial will be scheduled.

Read Utah Rule of Juvenile Procedure 25 about pleas.


What is a Plea Bargain?

Sometimes the juvenile can work a deal with the district attorney (D.A.). Let's say the juvenile broke two different windows, and ended up with two charges for "criminal mischief." If the juvenile is lucky, the D.A. may let the juvenile admit to one, and the other one will be dismissed. This way the juvenile ends up with only one charge on their record, and less hours of community service, or other punishments. Sometimes the juvenile can do what's known as a "plea in abeyance." That means if the juvenile admits to the offense, and does whatever the judge asks the juvenile to do (gets good grades, goes to a class about the juvenile court, and does community service hours, etc.), the juvenile can even get their charge dismissed after a certain amount of time.

If the juvenile enters into a plea bargain, the juvenile will still have to go see the judge, the judge has to agree to the terms of the plea bargain, and he or she may or may not give the juvenile additional requirements. The juvenile's judge or lawyer will ask the juvenile certain questions to make sure the juvenile understand the terms of the agreement, and their rights. This will be recorded in court, so the juvenile has to speak clearly, and answer out loud.



The trial is the stage where the D.A. and the defense lawyer present their evidence and witnesses in order to determine whether the juvenile has committed the offenses with which juvenile has been charged with. During the trial, the juvenile will be presented with the opportunity to testify on his/her own behalf, present witnesses and to question other witnesses. The juvenile has the right to an attorney. If the juvenile's family cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed by the state. The juvenile's attorney has the potential to play an important role within juvenile court proceedings by acting as an advocate for the juvenile's interests as well as offering advice concerning the legal options.

What to expect: Proceedings within juvenile court may be less adversarial and unless the juvenile has been charged with a felony, only those with a direct interest in the case are allowed to attend.


What Happens After the Trial?

It depends on whether the...

Charges are Proven UNTRUE

Charges are Proven TRUE

If the charges brought against the juvenile are proven untrue, the case will be dismissed. Although the record will show that a referral to court has been made, it will also indicate that the charges brought against the juvenile were found to be not true.

If the charges brought against the juvenile are proven to be true, the next step will then be the dispositional hearing which is similar to sentencing in an adult court. The juvenile may appeal to the Court of Appeals within 30 days after the order has been entered.