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The Juvenile Case Process in Huron County

The following is an explanation of how juvenile cases proceed through the Family Division of the Circuit Court.  Each case is handled on an individual basis, taking into account the juvenile’s history, seriousness of the offense and the likelihood of rehabilitation.

(Discussed in the order of occurrence.)

PETITION REQUEST – When a police officer has probable cause that a crime has been committed and that a specific juvenile has committed that crime, the officer requests the Prosecutor to authorize a petition.

DECISION TO PROSECUTE – The Prosecutor determines whether a juvenile should be charged with a crime and if so, what the specific charges will be. The Prosecutor then files the petition with the Family Division of the Circuit Court.

DIVERSION  – When a petition is filed with the Family Division of the Circuit Court, the Court may place the case on the formal docket and the case will proceed in a similar manner as an adult case does. Instead the Court may place the case on the consent calendar. The juvenile must plead guilty to the crime and then the Court will set terms and conditions for the juvenile to abide by for a probationary period. These terms and conditions often include, but are not limited to, community service, writing an apology letter to the victim, or not having contact with the victim. If a juvenile does not follow the terms and conditions set by the Court for the consent calendar then the case is set for adjudication and is transferred to the formal docket. Setting the case on the consent calendar occurs when the Court believes the best interest of the community requires Court intervention, but the juvenile doesn’t appear to be a risk to public safety or a risk for future delinquent behavior.

DUE PROCESS HEARING – When a juvenile is taken into custody at a neighboring detention facility, there will be a hearing held within 24 hours to determine whether the juvenile will remain in custody.

PRELIMINARY HEARING – This hearing is similar to an arraignment on a warrant in an adult prosecution. The juvenile is formally advised of the charge and the right to an attorney The juvenile may plead guilty, not guilty, or no to the charge.

WAIVER HEARING – Under certain circumstances, the Family Division of the Circuit Court will hold a waiver hearing to determine whether a juvenile will be tried as an adult for the crime(s) charged. If tried as an adult, the juvenile will be under Circuit Court jurisdiction. The Prosecuting Attorney has the discretion to authorize charges against the juvenile as an adult and the case proceeds directly to Circuit Court without any intervention of the Family, Division of the Circuit Court.

 PRE-TRIAL PROCEEDINGS – If the case is set for the formal calendar and the juvenile does not plead guilty there will be a pre-trial conference. Many events may occur prior to trial. The Court may hear motions to determine whether evidence will be admitted or suppressed at trial, or whether there is some legal reason why the juvenile should not be tried. The Prosecutor and the juvenile’s attorney will often meet to determine whether the juvenile will plead guilty to the crime charged or to some other offense.

ADJUDICATION – If the juvenile pleads guilty at the preliminary hearing, the Court will hear the factual basis and decide whether to accept the plea. The juvenile is reminded of his constitutional rights and then will be questioned by either the Prosecutor or the attorney for the juvenile.

TRIAL ADJUDICATION – If the juvenile pleads not guilty, the case will proceed to either a jury trial or a bench trial.

DISPOSITIONAL HEARING – If the juvenile pleads guilty or is found guilty by a Judge or a Jury, an investigation will be conducted to attempt to determine why the juvenile committed the crime and what will be done in order to avoid future offenses. The Judge determines the sentence to be imposed. The judge may consider different alternative, such as: probation, community service, drug or alcohol treatment, foster care placement, or other out-of-home placement. The Judge may also order the juvenile to make restitution and/or write an apology letter to victims who have suffered physical, financial, or emotional harm.

DISPOSITIONAL REVIEW HEARINGS – This is a hearing to review a juvenile’s progress and compliance with a disposition order. Hearings are conducted at least every 6 months, but may be held more often as necessary.

PROBATION VIOLATION HEARINGS – When a juvenile fails to abide by the terms and conditions of probation, then a motion is filed with the court stating the allegations and a hearing is scheduled. Violations may include failing grades, missing curfew, contacting the victim, and/or new criminal activity. A juvenile may be placed out-of-home until the hearing. Depending on the severity of the violation, the history of the juvenile’s case and the likelihood of rehabilitation, the juvenile may be placed at a secure detention facility for up to one year.