Juvenile Delinquency Proceedings
What are Juvenile Delinquency Proceedings?
A referral source, such as the police, brings forth a complaint that is forwarded to the prosecuting attorney’s office. The prosecuting attorney’s office determines whether a law has been broken and whether they have enough evidence to move forward by waiving the matter to adult court; or by referring the matter to the Diversion/Prevention program or other alternatives; or by petitioning the Court for action.
If the prosecuting attorney petitions the court for action; the petition will contain the MCL (Michigan Compiled Law) number and specific law the juvenile allegedly violated; date of the incident; a request for the court to take action; and the names and addresses of the juvenile and parents. Once the court receives a petition, a file is opened, and the Juvenile Officer may conduct a preliminary inquiry.
If the Court recommends the petition be handle informally, it may be referred to the Court’s Consent Calendar, Diversion/Prevention program or it might even be dismissed. If the Court recommends the petition be handled formally due to its severity, a preliminary hearing will be held. The preliminary hearing will be held before a judge or a referee.
General Procedure for a Preliminary Hearing
- Determine whether a parent has been notified and is present and if not, whether guardian ad litem or attorney is present.
- Determine whether petition should be dismissed, whether matter should be referred to alternate services or heard on consent calendar, or whether matter shall continue with preliminary hearing.
- Advise juvenile of right to an attorney.
- Read allegations in the petition and explained nature of proceedings.
- Advise juvenile of right to hearing by judge and right to request a review of referee’s findings or recommendations.
- Advise juvenile of privilege against self incrimination, and any statement made by juvenile may be used against the juvenile.
- Allow juvenile an opportunity to deny or otherwise plead to allegations.
- Advise juvenile of right to a trial by a judge or jury and that a referee may be assigned to hear the case unless demand for a judge or jury is filed.
- Advise parent where additional costs or reimbursement may be assessed.
At the preliminary hearing, the juvenile will either admit or deny the allegations in the petition. If the juvenile admits the allegations, then the court takes jurisdiction over the juvenile. If the juvenile denies the allegation, then the matter is set for a continued preliminary hearing or pretrial. The child is then appointed an attorney if one has not yet been appointed. If no plea agreement is reached at the pretrial, then the matter is set for trial. If the juvenile is found not guilty at trial, then the case is closed. If the juvenile is found guilty at the trial, then the court takes jurisdiction.
The dispositional hearing is held. During the dispositional hearing, the probation officer will recommend to the Court the terms of probation according to Section 18 of the Juvenile Code.
If the juvenile commits a probation violation, the terms of his/her probation order will escalate, and/or be extended and/or changed. The significance of this is that the juvenile "loses" certain rights at probation violation hearings. Namely, the juvenile is no longer afforded the right to a jury trial should they choose to contest the violation, and the prosecutor only needs to prove them guilty by preponderance of the evidence, rather than beyond a reasonable doubt. Possible escalation of probationary terms could include out of home placement such as: non secure detention; secure detention; foster care; residential treatment centers; training schools; boot camp; and/or jail.
Once the juvenile successfully completes the terms of his/her probation, he/she may be released from court jurisdiction after a release order is signed. The court would then close the case.