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Disposition Hearings and Options
What happens if it is sent to court?
Once the case reaches the formal hearing stage, the prosecutor will file a delinquency petition or a waiver petition. The delinquency petition is to request an adjudicatory hearing in juvenile court and a waiver petition is to transfer the case to adult criminal court.
If your child remains in juvenile court, an adjudication hearing will take place. The judge will make a determination based on the evidence presented to the court. If the child is adjudicated as a delinquent, the disposition hearing will follow. At the disposition hearing the court will consider a disposition plan, or probation recommendations.
The Juvenile Code allows judges a wide array of dispositions in adjudicated cases. The most common disposition is probation supervision. If a juvenile is placed on probation the court may order conditions of probation such as performing community service, attending counseling, submitting to drug screening and paying financial restitution and penalties. In addition as a condition of probation the court can order more restrictive requirements such as entering a residential program. Probation facilitates, makes referrals and monitors the juveniles while under supervision. Probation is a major resource to the Family Court and the juvenile justice system.
Short of waiving juveniles to the adult system, commitment to the JJC for incarceration is the most severe disposition available to the Family Court. The average sentence in committed cases is two years, although terms range from 30 days to 20 years or more. In cases where commitment is suspended, adjudicated youth are often placed on probation and, in addition, ordered into a JJC non-institutional residential program.