What are the sentences in juvenile court?
There’s a range of sentences that your child might face in juvenile court. Some examples include a probation sentence. It could be a pretrial diversion sentence. Your child also has the right to have a trial in their case. And then there’s also the possibility of what is called a “commitment.” In juvenile court it’s called commitment, in adult court it’s “incarceration,” but it’s really the same thing.
One difference in juvenile court is that with trials, you don’t have the right to a trial by jury. It’s the judge that would sit and hear the evidence and then decide guilt or innocence. Another key difference in juvenile court with probation is that probation is open-ended. So, for example, in adult court, you’re given a set term of probation. You might get two years probation or three years probation. In juvenile court, you’re on probation until the juvenile probation officer decides that you’ve done enough on probation for them to make a recommendation to the court to release you, so that’s something that can cause a little bit of stress and uncertainty for parents. Normally, it’s still ranges from about six months to a year on probation.
A lot of times ,parents will call me and they’ll ask whether or not there’s a diversion program available for their child. There are several different diversion programs for juvenile cases. One is called teen court, that’s probably the most common. That’s where a collection of teenagers that have been through the program then have to sit as judge and jury for other kids going through the program, deciding their sentence. The upside is if your child goes through the program and complies with all the requirements, their charge gets dismissed.
Another example of a diversion program is called “JDAP.” That’s the Juvenile Diversion Alternative Program. There’s also (juvenile court like to use a lot of acronyms) one called the PAD program. That’s the Parentally-Applied Discipline Program. Another example of a juvenile diversion program is called a DPA, or deferred prosecution agreement. All juvenile diversion programs result in a full dismissal of all charges, which gives your child a clean slate and a fresh start. So if your child has been arrested, and you’re concerned about what impact this might have on their future, give me a call and lets talk about your options.