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Juvenile Court

Delinquency|About the Juvenile Delinquency Process

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Before you read about the Juvenile Court process, it may help you out to first go to the Delinquency Terms page that will help explain some of the new and different words you will read below.

Cherokee County Juvenile Court has exclusive jurisdiction over children until their 17th birthday who commit delinquent acts. According to O.C.G.A 15-11-2, a delinquent act means an act committed by a child designated a crime by the laws of this state, or by the laws of another state if the act occurred in that state, under federal laws, or by local ordinance, and that act is not an offense applicable only to a child or a juvenile traffic offense. It could be an act of disobeying the terms of supervision contained in a court order which has been directed to a child who has been adjudicated to have committed a delinquent act or failing to appear as required by a citation issued for an act that would be a crime if committed by an adult.

When a child commits a delinquent act, they are charged on a document called a Juvenile Complaint.  A Juvenile Complaint is like a warrant for an adult crime, and that is the process that is used to get the charges to the prosecuting agency. Once a Juvenile Complaint is taken on a child, a DJJ intake officer is contacted by law enforcement in order to decide if the child is to be detained. The child could be detained or released back to the parent or guardian depending several factors. In Cherokee County, all of the juvenile cases are handled by the Cherokee County District Attorney’s Office. Once the complaint is received by the District Attorney’s Office, they investigate the complaint and determine what the appropriate charges are to be filed with the Court. It is common for the District Attorney’s Office to file different charges than what was on the complaint. The Prosecutor in the District Attorney’s Office is a lawyer who has to determine what laws apply to each charge and to ensure each of the elements of the delinquent act can be proven. Once their investigation is complete, the Prosecutor files a petition with the Court which contain the specific charges they are able to prove.  The petition is then distributed to the child and the parent along with notice of when they are to appear in court to answer those charges.

On the day of court, the child and a parent or guardian must appear at their designated time.  This is an official court proceeding and proper attire needs to be worn.  In Juvenile Court, we are fortunate to have local defense attorney’s that are present in court those days to discuss the charges and answer questions that the child or family may have. Based on your discussion with the lawyer and your family, the child may admit to those charges or deny the charges. If the child admits to those charges, then the case will more than likely conclude that day with the child being placed on probation, placed on abeyance, or given an informal adjustment. Many of those dispositions have terms, conditions or programs to complete as part of their sentence. Information on those can be located on the program description page. If the child denies the charges, a new court day will be given in which time that case will be set for trial.  At a trial, the Prosecutor must bring in witnesses to prove their case as the burden is on the State of Georgia.  The child may testify or have witnesses of their own, however they are not required to do either. Once all of the evidence is submitted to the Court, the Judge decides if the child has committed the delinquent act as alleged by the Prosecutor. In Georgia, all Juvenile Court cases are decided only by a Judge, there are no juries in Juvenile Court.

Once the child is adjudicated (found guilty) on the delinquent act, that is when they will meet with their Community Supervision Officer and go over the conditions of their sentence. This will be a specific term of time that the child is going to be supervised by DJJ and has to complete the requirements that the Court has imposed. Some examples would be to make restitution, complete community service, write essays or complete other court ordered programs. Some of those can be found on the Juvenile Delinquent Programs page.


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