Juvenile court deals with offenses involving children who are under the age 17 at the time the offense was committed.

Case Process at a Glance

In order to familiarize yourself with the criminal justice system, please review the following sketches, flowcharts and definitions.
Step 5 5.
Preliminary inquiry or hearing. Court determines to/not authorize petition
Step 1 1.
Crime is committed.
Step 6 6.
Juvenile pre-trial conference pleads guilty or trial is held.
Step 2 2.
Crime is reported to police.
Step 7 7.
Trial, victim/witness may testify..
Step 3 3.
Police investigate.
Step 8 8.
Juvenile disposition hearing.
Step 4 4.
Prosecutor evaluates case; petition issued.
Step 9 9.
Review hearing.
Detailed Description of Case Process

This will briefly explain how a juvenile case is processed.    The juvenile justice system is designed to receive petitions and dispose of cases involving delinquent activity by persons under the age of 17.  The purpose of the juvenile division of the probate court is stated as follows:

"This chapter shall be liberally construed to the end that each child coming within the jurisdiction of the court shall receive such care, guidance, and control, preferably in his own home, as will be conductive to the child's welfare and the best interest of the state, and that when such a child is removed from control of his parents, the court shall secure for him or her care as nearly as possible equivalent to the care which should have been given to him or her by them."

  1. POLICE INVESTIGATION - Upon completion, the police can either:
    1. Reprimand the juvenile and release them to his or her parents, or
    2. Seek approval of the county prosecutor to file a petition in juvenile court charging the juvenile with committing the crime.
  2. IF PETITION IS FILED - The probate court either:
    1. Warns the juvenile and dismisses the petition, or
    2. Sets the case for the formal court calendar.
    1. There will be a pretrial hearing, a trial by judge or jury, and if the juvenile is found guilty, then there will be a disposition hearing (sentencing), or
    2. Under certain circumstances, the probate court can order a 15 or 16 year old juvenile to stand trial as an adult (waiver).
    1. Place the juvenile on probation in his or her own home, in a relative's home, or in a foster home,
    2. Send the juvenile to an institution for treatment of juvenile offenders, and/or
    3. Order the juvenile to participate in such programs as counseling, education, drug or alcohol treatment, pay restitution to the victim, and do community service work. A juvenile on probation has Review Hearings after 6 months. Whether they are continued on probation depends upon their conduct and completion of terms and conditions of probation.

If you choose to attend these hearings, you must notify the clerk or bailiff when you arrive. If the Prosecutor is appearing at the hearing, you may speak to him or her before any plea agreement is concluded.