Frequently Asked Questions About Juvenile and Criminal Law
What ‘s a Juvenile Delinquency Petition?
A delinquency is the violation by a child of any local, state, or federal law, or the violation of a Court Order. A criminal case against a juvenile begins the same way as a CHINS case, except that the Petitioner is usually a police officer, the city attorney or the Commonwealth’s attorney. Many juvenile cases are prosecuted in the juvenile court. However, the very serious cases are handled in a fashion where the juvenile is tried as an adult. In any event, parents are entitled to Notice of any Petition, and any Final Order of Decision of the Juvenile Court can be appealed to the Circuit Court and is heard entirely anew, as if there had not been a trial in Juvenile Court. If the offense would be a felony if committed by an adult, the juvenile can request a jury of 12 persons. In the case of any other offense, the juvenile can request a jury of seven persons. All juvenile cases are confidential, except for juveniles who are tried as an adult, as these hearings can occur in open court. All records and cases involving juveniles are kept confidential and access is limited to specific persons with a need to see them. This general rule does not apply, however, to crimes that would be felonies if committed by an adult, so long as the juvenile was 14 or older at the time of defense.
What Is a Disposition?
In juvenile cases, the final decision of the court is called a Disposition, as the term is less stigmatizing and there are more options for children in the court when dealing with children -for example, CHINS (CHINS Services) (CHINS Supervision), status offenders and delinquent juveniles.
What is Expungement?
This is when the case records for a juvenile are destroyed. The records are automatically destroyed once the juvenile is 19, and five years has passed since the last hearing in his or her case. This does not apply to crimes that would be felonies if committed by adults. The records in these cases remain public just like an adult conviction would.
There Is an additional provision rating to expungement where the juvenile was found not guilty or the proceeding was dismissed. In this case, the person can have the records of the case destroyed and the request must be granted unless the Commonwealth attorney can show a good cause why the record should not be retained. When the records are destroyed, the violation of the law is as if it had never occurred. If a record search is done, law enforcement agencies must, if asked, say there is no record and the person may say they have no record.
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