Juvenile Division FAQs

With what types of crimes can juveniles be charged?
Juveniles commit crimes ranging from felonies, gross misdemeanors, misdemeanors, petty misdemeanors, status offenses, and local ordinance violations.

When is a juvenile entitled to a public defender?
All juvenile delinquents under the age of ten years are automatically given a public defender.

Are juvenile delinquency proceedings open to the public?
Delinquency hearings are generally closed to the public. There are some exceptions, such as when a 16 or 17-year-old has been charged with a felony. However, the hearing can be closed by the Judge if he/she deems it appropriate. Crime victims may also be allowed to attend hearings.

What types of hearings may occur in the juvenile court process?
A child may be required to attend some or all of the following:

  • Detention hearing. The judge decides whether the child needs to remain in secure detention or whether there is a less restrictive alternative.
  • Arraignment hearing. This is also known as the first appearance on the charges. The child will plead guilty or not guilty, or admit or deny the charges.
  • Certification hearing. This may be required to decide whether the child should be treated as an adult and referred to adult court, or designated an Extended Jurisdiction Juvenile, or remain in juvenile court. This hearing may or may not take place, depending on the nature of the charges, the age of the child, and other factors decided by the assistant county attorney.
  • Omnibus hearing. This hearing is used to decide any potential Constitutional issues.
  • Pre-trial settlement conference. This hearing is sometimes used when settling the case prior to trial.
  • Trial. When the case remains in juvenile court, the court (not a jury) decides whether the charges have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • Disposition hearing. When the child has been found guilty of an offense, the judge hands down the sentence or disposition.