The Juvenile Court is a court of limited jurisdiction that has the authority to hear cases where a minor, under the age of 18, has been charged with committing a delinquent offense. The legal process of a juvenile case is documented below:
Arrest or Referral: The juvenile legal process starts with an arrest or a referral. If you are arrested and held in-custody the prosecutor has 24 hours to file charges against you. If you have police contact and are released to your parents than a written complaint is sent to the prosecutor by law enforcement.
Detention hearing: if you were taken into custody, the prosecutor must initiate charges within 24 hours of being brought into custody. The Court reviews the charges to insure there is probable cause for the charges and addresses release conditions and sets future court dates.
Diversion: If you have police contact you may be eligible for a diversion. A diversion is available for minors if this is their first and/or second referral for a misdemeanor offense. You will most likely meet with a probation officer and you are eligible for a diversion if you admit responsibility and complete consequences in lieu of formal charges. Consequences will be tailored to your case, if you were arrested for minor consumption you would take a substance abuse class, community service and pay a fine. If you complete all the consequences the charges will be dismissed.
Advisory Hearing: is when the judge informs the minor of the charges against them and explains their Constitutional Rights. A public defender may be appointed at this time to represent the minor. At the advisory hearing the minor can admit the charges or accept a plea agreement if offered by the prosecutor. If minor admits the charges or accepts the plea agreement, the Court will accept the plea and set the case for a disposition, which is similar to a sentencing. If minor denies the charges the case will be set for an adjudication hearing.
Adjudication Hearing: is a trial before a judge where the judge finds you guilty or not guilty of the charges against you. The prosecutor must present evidence and convince the judge beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty. If you are found guilty you will be adjudicated delinquent and a disposition hearing will be set. If you are found not guilty the charges will be dismissed and your case is resolved.
Disposition Hearing: the judge decides the consequences to assign the minor with input from the probation officer, the public defender, the minor, the parents/guardian and the prosecutor. At disposition the court has authority to assign: consequence only probation, standard probation, juvenile intensive probation, detention time, residential treatment or usually as a final resort Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections.
Review Hearing: if the juvenile is placed on probation or residential treatment the court will periodically review the progress the juvenile is making on probation.
If you have further questions on the juvenile legal process, contact Daniel, Tony or Matt at 928-774-5400 or visit our website for more information. For more information about juvenile law in general, visit ask the judge, which is a helpful website.