Juvenile Division Frequently Asked Questions

How does a juvenile come to the attention of the Probation Department and Juvenile Court?

Contact usually begins with a referral from a law enforcement agency. Juveniles accused of committing crimes are referred to the Probation Department to process. Probation officers interview the minors and their families and decide whether court intervention is necessary. If necessary, the referral will be forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office to pursue formal charges.

Does the Probation Department try to prevent delinquent juveniles from entering the juvenile justice system?

The Probation Department utilizes several strategies to divert less serious offenders from the juvenile justice system. Informal Probation and a variety of other informal sanctions may be used when authorized by law and it appears that formal court involvement is not necessary. The Probation Officer may make referrals to family counseling, parenting classes, substance abuse counseling, gang awareness, mental health services, and restorative justice in order to address the issues that led to the juvenile’s arrest.

What happens to juveniles when they enter the juvenile justice system?

If the Probation Officer refers a matter to the District Attorney to pursue formal charges against a minor, a petition may be filed and the minor will appear before the Juvenile Court. If the minor is found to have committed the alleged crime(s), the Court will refer the matter to the Probation Department to prepare a dispositional report, which will include a brief statement of the offense, the minor’s prior delinquency history, school academic and attendance records, drug/alcohol history, social history of the family, statements from the victim, the juvenile and the juvenile's parents, and the Probation Department’s recommendation.

What happens after a juvenile is declared a Ward of the Court?

The Judge will consider the probation disposition report and all available information in order to decide the most appropriate disposition, which could include anything from probation to confinement in a state correctional facility. The most common dispositions are as follows: