As we mentioned in our last post, rehabilitation in the juvenile justice system can take different forms depending on the nature of the offense of which the juvenile has been accused and what is appropriate to his or her circumstances. The basic distinction was made between rehabilitation involving various services and diversion programs, versus rehabilitation through delinquency proceedings for more serious offenses.
When a young person faces the prospect of delinquency proceedings, it becomes more important to work with an experienced attorney to make sure his or her rights and interests are advocated. This is especially the case given that youths accused of more serious offenses face the prospect of detention, and all the disruption this entails.
Detention is typically reserved for youths who are at risk for not appearing in court or who are a danger to themselves or the public. If a youth is placed in detention, a detention hearing is supposed to be held the next day on the issue of whether detention is appropriate. Depending on the case, adjudication must be held for the case within 30 to 60 days to determine if the young person was involved in the alleged offense. The adjudication is like a trial, and involves presentation of evidence and examination of witnesses.
At the end of the adjudication process, if the child is determined to be guilty of the offense, a disposition hearing will be held in which the court will determine the appropriate outcome of the case. This could include probation, restitution, or commitment to an appropriate facility.
Young people have the right to work with an attorney throughout this process, and are wise to do so. Having an experienced advocate at one’s side ensures that the outcome of the case will reflect the rights and interests of the child. This is particularly important if the child has a mental illness or other special needs that require special assistance to get him or her on the right track. It is also important, as we have mentioned, when a young person faces the prospect of being transferred to the criminal justice system.