There are five ways that a youth 16 years old or younger can become involved in the Juvenile Court System. These are:
- Criminal behavior
- School incorrigibility
- School truancy
- Home incorrigibility
Regarding criminal behavior, a criminal petition can only be filed by the Prosecuting Attorney. Typically that will only be done after the appropriate law enforcement agency has done an investigation and submitted a report to the Prosecuting Attorney’s office for review.
School Truancy vs. School Incorrigibility
At school, a child who willfully and repeatedly absents himself or herself from school or repeatedly violates rules and regulations of the school can be found to be truant or Incorrigible. A county-wide truancy policy was adopted in 20O4 that involves the school personnel contacting the Intermediate School District Truancy Officer. If you have questions regarding the truancy policy, you are encouraged to contact your child’s school principal.
Each school has its own policy regarding submission of Incorrigibility Petitions, and again, you are encouraged to contact your child’s principal regarding the school’s policy. School incorrigibility petitions will usually include a detailed description of the student’s disruptive behaviors and the school’s discipline, a copy of any Individualized Education Plans, grade and attendance reports, how the school provided counseling services to the student, alternative counseling agency information offered and level of parental involvement with school personnel.
Runaway vs. Incorrigible
At home, a child who has “deserted his or her home without sufficient cause” is a run-away and a child who is “repeatedly disobedient to the reasonable and lawful commands of his or her parents, guardian” is incorrigible. Actions at home that may be considered criminal are necessarily incorrigible as well. For example, a child who breaks things or hits other people can be charged with Malicious Destruction of Property or Assault & Battery. Smoking tobacco or marijuana and drinking alcohol are crimes, as well as against the rules of the home.
The Huron County Prosecutor’s Office is willing to help parents file Incorrigibility Petitions to ensure legal sufficiency. Assistance by our office is not required, but strongly advised because we may be able to suggest other options for the family instead of filing a petition. Once a petition is filed, only the court can dismiss it. Children found to be Incorrigible can be wards of the court until they are 19 years old, and sometimes are removed from their homes and placed in treatment or boot camp facilities for many months, despite the parents’ wishes. It is important to be aware of this when considering a petition. This is a very serious action taken by parents and should not be done so without serious consideration.
When a Petition is filed with the Circuit Court Family Division, a Juvenile Referee will hold a preliminary examination that requires the attendance of the child, the parents and the petitioner. If the parents file the petition, an attorney is appointed by the court to represent the child. The case is then handled at the discretion of the court and can be advanced to a pre-trial conference involving the Prosecutor, an attorney for the child, and Judge David L. Clabuesch. An alternative to the advancement of a formal case can be an adjournment (postponement) of the preliminary hearing in which the Juvenile Referee outlines a few requirements to having the case dismissed at the adjourned date. Another option of the court is to place the child on the Consent Calendar at the agreement of the Prosecutor, child’s attorney and the Judge. This is a probation period that can escalate to formal court proceedings if there is a violation of the court orders, or can be dismissed upon successful completion. The difference between this and the adjourned preliminary hearing is that during the Consent Calendar, the juvenile and his family must meet monthly with a Juvenile Referee who acts as a probation officer and may have more requirements.
General juvenile probation orders, whether it be a formal case or one of the diversion alternatives include:
- Psychological Evaluation (child and possibly family members)
- Counseling (individual or family)
- Anger Management class
- Alcohol safety class
- Substance Abuse Evaluation and follow-up recommendations
- Community Service (often starting with the victim)
- Required school attendance (only excuses from doctor or case worker allowed)
- Age appropriate friends (usually 2 years older or younger than child’s age)
- Specific curfew (or house-arrest)
- Apology letter(s) to victims or others the child has offended
- No contact with certain person(s) who seem to have a negative impact on child
- Family intervention programs (including parenting classes or family members)
- No violations of the law or school procedures
- Acceptable academic and social behavior
- Tether (Electronic monitoring of whereabouts)
- Fines, costs and restitution (payment for injury or damage caused)
Failure of the child to conform her behavior to that of the probationary requirements, or problems in the home that prohibit the child from succeeding, may result in the removal of the child from the home and placed with other family members, foster care, or boot camp. This is only done as a last resort when all community resources are exhausted. The court can order a variety of requirements that will help the family and the child to handle their home situation and to make the school setting safe and conducive to learning.
The purpose of the juvenile justice system is rehabilitation and the focus is on the child. We hope to help you teach your child right from wrong, provide consequences for negative actions, and establish a safe environment in which the child can succeed and become a self’-confident, productive young adult.
Assistance by the Huron County Prosecutor’s Office
If you wish to file an Incorrigibility Petition with the assistance of this office, please take the time to fill out the forms below. They must be filled out completely. Both biological parents must be listed, or if not, there must be an explanation as to why the information is missing. Adopted parents should make a note of that by their name(s). Step-parents may be listed in the “household” section only. Claims that parents have been denied custody or have had parental rights terminated must be supported by copies of court orders. If there have been any times you have called the police, please contact that agency and request a copy of their report. If they are unable to provide a copy of the report, please ask for the report number and the name of the officer.
For EACH troublesome incident, please fill out a box. (Information sheet on behavior concerns listed below.) You may need more than one copy of that form. The information provided should all be current, within the past six months. Fill out the “Authorization for Educational Records” (listed below) and submit that to your child’s school and ask them to send the listed information to this office. Submit all of the other information to this office. Once you have done so, a Prosecutor will be in contact with you to review the information and discuss options available to your family, or the filing process.
We wish you and your family well. We hope that we are able to help you.
Checklist/Forms for Incorrigibility Petition
(Click on the below text, highlighted in red, to get that particular form. It will open on a new webpage where you can either fill in the blanks on that form from your computer and then print it, or print the document first and then handwrite the required information. NOTE: You will not be able to save what you type in the form on your computer. To have a copy, you will need to print the form.)
- Juvenile Incorrigibility Intake Sheet
- Information on separate sheet about behaviors of concern
- Authorization for Educational Records
- Copies of police reports or school records (if you have them all)