Juvenile delinquency proceedings are brought in family court, as opposed to adult criminal court. They are presided over by a family court judge. There are no juries. If there is a need to do so, the court has the power to implement services through either the Department of Social Services or the local child welfare agency. The family is involved at every single court hearing and that is mandated under New York State law. The court cannot proceed on a juvenile delinquency case unless there is a family member or a guardian present at all times and at all hearings.
What Happens At A Fact Finding Hearing?
In family court, the fact finding hearing is one where the prosecution has to present their case (otherwise known as a “trial”). They have to present their witnesses and their evidence to the judge and then, the defense attorney will get up to close the evidence and will move to dismiss, unless the evidence is particularly damning. Sometimes it works, mostly it doesn’t. If it doesn’t work, then the defense has to proceed and put on their case. The child may testify in his or her own defense and they are entitled to present any other witnesses or evidence that is deemed relevant. At the end of the hearing, each side has the opportunity to make an oral summation to the court and then the courts will make a determination as to whether the youth has violated one or more sections of the penal law.
What Happens At A Dispositional Hearing?
A dispositional hearing is the equivalent of sentencing in family courts. The court will take in reports, they will have a mental health evaluation, and each side has the opportunity to call additional witnesses and present additional evidence. Usually, there is only a contest at a dispositional hearing when the court is considering placing the juvenile in detention.
What Are The Potential Consequences If My Child Is Found Guilty At a Juvenile Delinquency Hearing?
The potential consequences for juveniles are quite wide ranging. Generally speaking, the court can consider placing a youth in detention, entering an order of protection on behalf of the victim, and placing the child in a variety of settings. The court can consider placing the child in a group home, in another relative’s home, in secure detention, in non-secure detention, or in a diagnostic facility. The diagnostic facility would help evaluate them and then determine where they should be placed from there.
Sometimes, with a severe mental illness, it may be decided that the child needs to be placed in some form of mental health facility. Other times, they may determine that the particular youth can be released through some kind of halfway house, where they can still be out in the community. The court can also sentence community service and restitution, paid by the family.
Will I Be Impacted If My Child Is Facing Juvenile Delinquency Charges? If So, How?
At times, if a juvenile commits a crime, it may impinge upon the parents’ parental rights. However, it is not as though a parent can be charged as an accessory to their child’s crime merely because of parental status. At times, child welfare will get involved with a family where there is a juvenile delinquency case to make sure that the home is safe for the child to return to.
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