Juvenile Delinquency Proceedings
A juvenile case starts when a report, usually by a police agency, is submitted to the prosecutor. If the report contains information which constitutes a criminal offense, a petition will be commenced against the juvenile. Some reports filed against juveniles are dismissed before the petition is authorized. Even in situations where action is taken against a juvenile, a second chance may be provided whereby the matter is handled without formal proceedings on either “diversion” or on the court’s “consent calendar”.
Intake Process: Once a petition is entered in the juvenile system, the child and parents will be notified to participate with the probation department for the intake process. Cooperation at this stage is often misunderstood and the advice of an attorney is crucial. The intake process can result in positive outcome or recommendation that the case be scheduled for a pretrial conference.Diversion & Consent Calendar: Both programs are utilized in Macomb County
The golden parachute for juvenile delinquency cases is getting a disposition pursuant to “diversion” or the “consent calendar”. In both scenarios, a plan is presented and upon compliance, the court shall dismiss the case, close the case and may destroy all records of the proceeding. The Macomb County Juvenile Court utilizes both of these programs when they are a good fit for a particular juvenile. If it appears that the a diversion plan or consent calendar proceeding is not in the best interests of either the juvenile or the public, the court may, without hearing, transfer the case from the consent calendar to the formal calendar. Even when a case is not dismissed, the juvenile may seek to obtain an expungement as soon as age 18. Major felony assault crimes and criminal sexual conduct are precluded from getting diversion or consent calendar status.
When a case is not dismissed, given diversion or consent calendar status, the court may place the matter on the formal calendar and allow the charges to go forward against the youth as juvenile delinquency proceedings.Formal Proceedings, Plea Bargaining, Trial
Unlike criminal cases which are processed in the city or county where the offense occurred, juvenile cases are transferred to the county where the juvenile resides. Once formal proceedings are initiated, one or more pretrial conference dates are scheduled. These pretrial conference dates are usually scheduled with a juvenile court referee and often utilized to seek resolution of the case without it being scheduled for trial. Similar to adult prosecutions, the vast majority of cases in the juvenile system are resolved by way of a plea bargain. Plea bargaining from the defense point of view may mean getting a case placed on consent calendar, reduction of charges, reduction of a felony to a misdemeanor, amending a violent (assault) or theft crime (retail fraud), or getting charges dropped when an offender is charged with multiple offenses. When a case cannot be resolved by a plea, it is scheduled for trial. The juvenile may have a trial before the referee or request a jury trial before the judge assigned to the case. The prosecutor also has the right to request a jury trial.Constitutional Rights Apply to Juveniles Charged with a Crime
A juvenile that is charged with a criminal offense is afforded the same constitutional rights as an adult that is charged with a crime. These rights include:
- The right to an attorney.
- The right to be presumed innocent.
- The right to trial by jury.
- The right to cross examine and confront witnesses.
The burden of proof in a criminal case, as well as juvenile delinquency proceedings is on the prosecutor. The standard is the same as adult criminal proceedings which requires that the prosecutor prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.Dispositions for Juvenile Offenders: In-Home Probation or Placement/Detention
The purpose of a disposition hearing is to determine what measures the court will take with respect to a juvenile once there has been a finding of guilt. The court’s foremost concern at this stage is to fashion a disposition that is in the best interests of the juvenile. While jail or prison is not an option, dispositions may include the following:
- Warning the juvenile and dismissing the petition
- In-home probation which can include rehabilitation, education, curfew
- Youth home detention
- Juvenile Boot Camp
- Placement/detention in facilities, including out of state
- Retention of jurisdiction until age 19
- Restitution to any victims for personal injuries or property damage
The court will give consideration to many factors to determine an appropriate disposition, including:
- Stability of home environment
- School and community record
- Risk to the community
- Prior record of the offender
- Ongoing alcohol or substance abuse problems
- Whether juvenile is getting appropriate mental health treatment
In most juvenile cases that we see, the court will impose in-home probation with parents or relatives as its disposition. In-home probation may include conditions such as a curfew, limitations on the use of computers and counseling. However, placement outside of the home is probable when a child is not progressing in school, has a past juvenile record, is not getting proper medical/mental health treatment and is at a high risk to re-offend.License Sanctions Apply to Juveniles Charged with Criminal Traffic Violations
Criminal violations that involve the use of a motor vehicle will result in mandatory driver’s license sanctions with the Michigan Secretary of State. In addition, all drug crime convictions will result in suspension of driving privileges even if a motor vehicle is not involved. Criminal violations that involve the use of a motor vehicle may be classified as a misdemeanor or felony:
|Misdemeanor Traffic Violations||Felonies Involving Use of Motor Vehicle|
|All drunk driving offenses||Fleeing and eluding|
|Leaving the scene of an accident||Felony use of an automobile|
|Minor in possession of alcohol||Car theft|
In addition to license action, traffic related convictions for juveniles will carry points with the Secretary of State, increased insurance premiums and driver responsibility fees. Fighting a juvenile traffic violation can have the following advantages:
- Avoidance of Secretary of State points
- Reduction of charges/tickets to avoid or reduce Driver Responsibility Fees
- Reduction of charges/tickets to keep insurance premiums under control
- Reduction of criminal traffic tickets to non-criminal civil infractions
- Reduction of traffic tickets to offenses which carry ZERO points
The experienced criminal defense lawyers at ABDO LAW can provide sound legal advice and offer solutions for clients facing juvenile delinquency proceedings. One phone call is all that it takes to get answers to your most pressing legal questions and a same day appointment.