The Virginia juvenile justice system is one that is meant to help minors who are heading down the wrong road. There are some points in the juvenile system that differ from the adult criminal justice system that many people are familiar with. Learning some of the terminology that you might encounter can help you to better understand what is going on as the case moves forward.
How do status offenders and delinquents differ?
A status offender is a minor who does something that is illegal for a minor that wouldn't be illegal if an adult did the same thing. Missing curfew is an example of something that could lead to a juvenile being classified as a status offender. A delinquent is a minor who does something that would be illegal if an adult did the same thing. Robbery and being in possession of illegal drugs are examples of what can lead a juvenile to be classified as a delinquent.
What is a child in need of services compared to a child in need of supervision?
A child in need of services is one that is considered a threat to others or themselves. These children need to receive services like treatment or rehabilitation in order to get back on the right path. A child in need of supervision is one that runs away from his or her home or doesn't go to school.
A child who is taken into custody, which is the juvenile term for arrested, might have to answer to a petition, which means charges. This can mean having to go through an adjudicatory hearing, or trial. If the juvenile is found delinquent, which means guilty, he or she will move on to the disposition phase, which is the sentencing phase. Throughout this process, the juvenile needs representation to ensure his or her rights are being upheld.
Source: Virginia Rules, "Introduction to Juvenile Justice in Virginia," accessed July 28, 2016