If you have a child or teenager that was arrested, they will most likely go to juvenile court. Juvenile court is for minors who are convicted of a crime. Before you head to court, there are some things you should know. Here is more information about minors and criminal cases.

Who goes to juvenile court?

In general most people who are under the juvenile age will have their criminal case sent to juvenile court. That age will depend on the state. Many states have the juvenile age being younger than 18, while others may set it at 16 or 17. If you have a child that is below the juvenile age, their court case will probably start in juvenile court. Keep in mind that there are some cases where a minor's case is in juvenile court, but due to the nature of the crime, they are tried as an adult.

There are also states that have a younger age limit, where the child is not considered to be fully aware of their actions. For example, if you live in a state where they have a minimum age of 8 years old for juvenile court, a child that is 6 will not go to juvenile court. It is often their parents that face the consequences, not the child.

What cases go to juvenile court?

While many cases in juvenile court are criminal cases, also referred to delinquency cases in juvenile court, not all of them are. With delinquency cases, they are usually crimes committed by a minor. For example, a child or teenager that has robbed a store or stolen a car will have their criminal case go to juvenile court. Other cases include:

Dependency cases – These types of cases are actually for the minor, not against them. With a dependency case, the child or teenager has been neglected or abused by their parents or guardians. They are also heard in juvenile court since it is related to a minor. The main decision here is whether or not the child is still safe to remain in their home.

Status offenses – Another type of case that can end up in juvenile court is a violation that is only related to minors. This might be breaking their curfew, running away, drinking when they have not yet reached the legal drinking age, or skipping school. 

What are the juvenile court procedures?

The procedures for a court case in juvenile court depend on the type of case. Due to the age of the child or nature of the crime, many criminal cases with minors don't even reach an official hearing. These are often settled before it reaches that point. When it is a dependency case, the security and protection of the child or teenager is important. If a child abuse case goes to trial, they might need to speak during the trial, but many children are given the option to give their testimony in private so they don't have to do it in front of the person who abused them. These stipulations will vary based on the situation and the case.

Cases that go to adult court instead of juvenile court are known as a waiver. These cases are usually involving serious charges, such as murder or rape. They will skip juvenile court and go directly to adult court, where they will be tried as an adult.

For more information, contact a legal office like The Law Office of Gregory J. Hermiller, LLC.