Juvenile Case Procedures

Each case is handled on an individual basis, taking into account the juvenile's history, seriousness of the committed offense, prognosis for rehabilitation and prevention of future violations.  The focus of juvenile court is rehabilitation.

When a crime is committed by someone under 17 years of age, the police are notified and begin their investigation.  Upon completion of their investigation, the police either reprimand the juvenile and release the juvenile to his/her parents or seeks approval of the county prosecutor to file a petition in the Probate Court.


If a petition is filed, the Probate Court can warn the juvenile and dismiss the petition, refer the juvenile for voluntary counseling, place the juvenile on informal probation, or set the case for a formal hearing.

Formal Handling

If the case is set for formal handling and the juvenile does not plead guilty, the juvenile is entitled to a trial in front of a judge or jury.  If the juvenile is convicted, a dispositional hearing is held at a later date.  Under certain conditions, the Probate Court can order a 15- or 16-year-old juvenile to stand trial as an adult.

Length of Orders

Normally, the longest a juvenile can be subject to the order of the Probate Court is the juvenile's 19th birthday, although some juveniles can be kept until their 21st birthday, when they must be dismissed from Probate Court Jurisdiction.

If the juvenile is kept in the juvenile system some of the things the court can do are:

  • Place the juvenile on probation in his/her own home, in a relative's home, or in a foster home.
  • Send the juvenile to an institution for the treatment of juvenile offenders, and/or order the juvenile to participate in such programs as counseling, education, drug or alcohol treatment.
  • Order the juvenile to pay restitution to the victim and/or complete community service work.