Juvenile Criminal Cases and Court System in Arizona

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Juvenile Court is a separate division of the Superior Court.  It is responsible for hearing cases concerning juvenile delinquency, dependencies, termination of parental rights, adoptions, emancipation, and any other related matters.

Despite the fact that most Juvenile Delinquency matters involve crimes committed by minors, they are taken seriously, just like any other case. That’s why it is important to hire an experienced juvenile attorney to handle the case.

Hiring a Criminal Lawyer to Represent You

Arizona Juvenile Court Process

The organization and process of a juvenile court system are somewhat different from that of the adult system. For instance, when an offence is committed, juveniles or minors are considered ‘detained’ rather than arrested.

Thereafter, a petition is created to serve as an official charge sheet. The petition states the jurisdiction of the juvenile court and the crime committed.  The family of the juvenile is notified of the charge.

Normally, the first step when juveniles are detained is to contact a juvenile lawyer. A juvenile lawyer is familiar with the juvenile system, as it is not quite different from the adult criminal justice system.  The lawyer will advise you on the steps to follow until the hearing stage.

Inside the Courtroom

The juvenile delinquency case is handled by a Superior Court judge.  If the juvenile is tried or pled and is found delinquent (the juvenile term for guilty), that juvenile will have a disposition hearing (the juvenile term for a sentencing hearing).  The court determines what sanctions should be imposed on the juvenile.

All records in juvenile courts are sealed and cannot be easily accessed. This is different from adult courts where anyone can get the records based on the Freedom of Information Act, minus some redacted personal information which may be included on said documents.

The sealing of records is deliberate to ensure that mistakes committed don’t haunt the juvenile in his or her future life. Records may also be destroyed when the juvenile turns 18 – as long as they have fulfilled certain conditions given by the court.

One of the main contentious issues with juvenile courts is the use of indeterminate sentencing. This is where judges have the discretion of deciding the maximum sentencing for juveniles.

Consequently, juveniles are observed until they serve their maximum term or when the judge feels that they have reformed their behavior. But, sometimes, working with an experienced Arizona lawyer can result in an earlier release.

Different Types of Juvenile Cases

Juvenile court processes usually differ depending on the type of case. Below are three primary types of juvenile cases:

1. Juvenile Delinquency Cases

– These are cases concerning juveniles whose actions would have resulted in criminal charges if they were adults. The type of punishment and fines in juvenile courts is somewhat different from those in adult courts. The primary goal is rehabilitation rather than punishment.

2. Juvenile Dependency Cases

– These are cases concerning minors or juveniles who have been neglected, abused, or abandoned by their respective guardians or parents. The main objective of such cases is to provide children with safety.

3. Status Offense Cases

– These are cases that concern status offences that specifically apply to minors. It may involve drunk driving, curfew violations, or truancy, among others.

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