FAQ's About Juveniles and Juvenile Court

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What can I do if my child is ungovernable or a runaway?

Anyone under the age of eighteen who does not comply with a reasonable request of their parent or leaves home without parental consent is considered ungovernable or a runaway. The Division of Child & Family Services or other agency such as Youth Services within your county or district can provide crisis intervention for families, which includes temporary shelters.


What do I do if my child no longer wants to attend school?

Utah law requires youth to attend school until the age of eighteen. Only a District Board of Education can release your child from school. If persistent efforts by parent(s) and school officials fail, a referral can be made to the Juvenile Court by the school district.


Can my child be emancipated?

Utah has an emancipation law which allows minors 16 and older to petition the juvenile court for emancipation. In order to grant emancipation, a court must find that the minor has the ability and capacity to manage his or her own affairs and to live independently from his or her parents or guardian. Once a minor is emancipated, parents are not held accountable for the child's welfare. Parents cannot be emancipated from their child; only the child may petition for emancipation. Emancipation forms are available on the court's website.


Are parents responsible for their children's criminal behavior?

Generally parents are not responsible for their child's criminal behavior. However, if the parents in any way participated in or contributed to the child's delinquent behaviors they can be held liable "as a party" for the criminal offense. Parents are responsible for monetary care when their child is placed in a juvenile justice program.


Can a juvenile be tried in adult court?

There are several circumstances under which a juvenile may be tried in adult court. These include cases where the juvenile is fourteen years or older and has been charged with a serious felony.


Do parents have to attend court hearings?

The Court requires that a parent or guardian appear at all court hearings. Parents or guardians may be held in contempt for failure to attend court hearings.


Who can visit the detention center?

The detention facility in your county or district is operated by the State or a private contractor, and visitation rights may vary. Only parents or guardians can visit the detention center; all others must be approved by the Court.


What can the courts require of parents?

The court may order the parent or guardian who has been a party to the proceedings to comply with reasonable conditions. Generally, this means that in addition to appearing at all court proceedings, parents should make every effort to provide transportation and other forms of support so that the juvenile is able to fulfill the terms of the agreement with the court.

In some cases, parents may be expected to take classes with the juvenile. Assessing the role and responsibilities of parents will be made by evaluating the information compiled during the preliminary inquiry. The court will typically discourage parents from paying fines so that the juvenile may better appreciate the consequences of their actions.


Where do juveniles pay fines and submit their community service hours?

Parents and children must sign the community service hour sheet prior to submitting it to the Court. All fine payments can be mailed, but only as checks or money orders. All owing obligations are to be mailed or paid in person at the Court.


Can community service hours be done at home?

Community service hours may not be done at home. Parents or children may not receive money, compensation, or benefits for any services. Possible sites for working off community service hours include not-for-profit agencies, schools, parks, libraries, hospitals, substance abuse programs, homeless shelters, and nursing homes.


How are driving privileges reinstated?

Procedure for reinstatement of driving privileges is processed by the Court and the Department of Public Safety. Depending on what was ordered by the Court, the Department of Public Safety will review your driving history and convictions. A letter will be sent to you outlining what type of action is being taken, such as denial, suspension, or revocation.


What happens to the juvenile record?

While in contact with juvenile court, the juvenile will basically have two types of records: legal and social. The legal records document the juvenile's actions within the court and are accessible by law enforcement agencies, treatment facilities, the courts, attorneys, and the public if the juvenile is 14 or older and charged with a felony offense. The social records will contain information pertaining to probation officer records, psychological evaluations and treatment performance. These records are only open if a judge releases them. The juvenile's records will be kept until the juvenile is 28 years old. After the juvenile turns 28, the records are kept on an electronic medium. These records will not be automatically expunged.


What is the process for expunging a juvenile record?

In order to have a juvenile record expunged, one year must have elapsed since the Juvenile Court has terminated jurisdiction over the juvenile. All fines, fees and restitution must have been paid and the juvenile must not have an adult criminal record within one year's time.

Expungement forms are available on the court's website.