Hearing that your child got into trouble with the law is a harrowing situation for any parent. If you are facing this reality now, you will need to understand some basic points about the juvenile justice system. The juvenile justice system has very different procedures and policies than the adult criminal justice system.
The differences between the juvenile system and the adult system begin as soon as the child is detained. Juveniles aren't arrested like adults. Instead, they are detained. The juvenile is then given paperwork that outlines the juvenile court's authority over the case, gives notice to the juvenile's family, makes the reason for the court appearance known and officially charges the juvenile.
The next step in the case is the adjudication hearing. This hearing is when a disposition is given to the juvenile. The disposition is the manner in which the juvenile court is handling the case. This can include having to serve time in a juvenile facility, be placed on juvenile probation or a host of other options. Unlike the adult criminal justice system, the adjudication hearing in a juvenile court is held before a judge without a jury.
Another way that the juvenile court is different is the way the records are handled. Juvenile records are records are sealed to help protect the juvenile. Criminal records in the adult criminal justice system aren't sealed automatically
If your child is facing charges in the juvenile justice system, you will need to ensure he or she is given his or her right to present a defense. Juveniles have the right to legal representation.
Source: FindLaw, "Juvenile Court Procedure," accessed April 01, 2016