With limited exceptions, if your child has been arrested for a crime and is under the age of eighteen, he or she will be adjudicated by the arresting county’s juvenile courts.
Rehabilitation rather than punishment is always the focus of our juvenile courts. Unlike adult court, sentencing in the juvenile courts is very flexible. Resolution of a case could range from informal probation to placement in a secure educational facility in lieu of incarceration. If sent to court, juveniles can be sentenced to an indeterminate period of probation or, in the most serious cases, detention, for up to four years. Because it is indeterminate, the period of probation, in many ways, is controlled by the juveniles themselves. Even when being supervised for serious offenses, if the juvenile cooperates with his probation officer and meets the requirements set by the probation department and the Court, supervision will be discharged sooner rather than later. However, even for those on probation for the most minor offense, failure to cooperate with the probation department will lead to a longer period of supervision or, in some cases, placement in a secure facility away from home.
As a juvenile, you are not entitled to a trial by jury. All cases are tried and decided by the juvenile judge then sitting. Because in many counties, the judge assigned to juvenile court stays on that calendar for a long period of time, often your child is supervised by the same judge that determined his/her guilt, even when the juvenile remains in the system for years. The juvenile and their judges often get to know each other very well.