Juvenile Justice

Paving the Way to Positive Futures

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Courtroom etiquette

  1. Arrive on time
  2. Turn off or silent all electronic devices before entering the court room
  3. Be polite to the judge, attorneys, and court room staff
  4. Rise when the judge enters and leaves the court room
  5. Stand up straight when at the bench
  6. Remove sunglasses and/or hat when entering the court room
  7. Do not have anything in your mouth when in the court room, including gum and mints
  8. Be mindful of what you say and do – the court room contains cameras and microphones
  9. Tell the truth
  10. Dress appropriately
    • Select clothing that is clean and in good condition
    • Do not wear shirts with profanity or offensive messages
    • Wear clothing that fits and covers your underwear and/or bra
    • Try and avoid beachwear such as shorts, tank tops, and flip flops
    • If possible, be freshly showered with neat hair


  1. Keep loose change and any other unnecessary items out of your pockets
  2. You will be asked to remove your belt while going through security
  3. Check in with the courtroom staff
  4. Contact your attorney before each scheduled court date
  5. If in session, return to school after court
  6. Remember, court is a formal setting and first impressions count

Common legal terms

Court Supervision or Probation: A type of sentence imposed by the court after a juvenile pleads guilty or is found guilty of a criminal offense. This sentence allows the juvenile to be supervised in the community as opposed to being incarcerated. While on court supervision or probation, the juvenile must comply with any conditions specified in the court’s order, including but not limited to, submission to random drug testing, participation in treatment or educational programs, payment of restitution, and completion of community service work.

Detention: Temporary custody of a juvenile in a secure facility. The judge must determine if the juvenile should be detained prior to hearing for his or her own safety, the safety of the community, or to ensure the juvenile will be present in court.

Diversion: Program to channel certain juveniles away from the formal court system. Appropriate for first-time or non-violent offenders to receive treatment and services from the community. Holds juveniles accountable for their behavior without the burden of a delinquent label or record.

Expunge/Expungement: Laws that allow juvenile records to be erased and destroyed once the juvenile successfully completes their sentence. Juvenile Expungement Guide

Petition for Adjudication: A petition informs the juvenile judge of the criminal allegations against a juvenile and asks the court to hold a hearing to determine if the juvenile did what they are accused of doing.

Probable Cause: Reasonable grounds to suspect a person has committed a crime.

Restitution: Payments a judge may order a juvenile pay to a specific victim as part of a sentence.

Other terms

Cyberbullying: The use of technology to threaten, harass, embarrass, or otherwise target another person. In other words, anything posted online with the intent to deliberately hurt, harass, or upset someone, including photos, comments, and texts.

Sexting: The act of transmitting sexually explicit messages, primarily through text messaging. This may include illicit photographs and/or videos.


Every juvenile who is brought before the court will be given an assessment to help Court Services better understand how they can best work with each individual. Most of the time, this assessment happens during the Social History Investigation. If the Court does not order a Social to be done, the assessment will be given by the juvenile’s Probation Officer within 90 days of sentencing.

DeKalb County currently uses the Youth Assessment and Screening Instrument (YASI™). YASI is an innovative model that assesses risk, needs, and protective factors in youth populations. YASI:

  • Measures both risk and strengths in juvenile populations as well as other high risk youth.
  • Measures protective factors to help case workers build on the strengths of youth to buffer the negative impact of risk.
  • Provides pre-screening functionality, critical for settings where triage based on risk principles is required.
  • Includes a case planning component designed to help case workers identify and monitor the priority targets for behavior change.
  • Produces results quickly and efficiently through web-based software that also guides the user through case plan development.
  • Provides an attractive visual method for presenting and sharing assessment results.

Court Services also uses YASI to measure the juvenile’s progress as they work through their sentencing requirements. The juvenile is reassessed every 3-4 months to make sure the current services are still appropriate and to evaluate any changes that may need to be made.

Court Process for first time offenders

My child has been arrested – now what?

  • Arresting agency completes a report of the incident
  • Report is sent to the State’s Attorney’s Office for a charging decision
    • No charge – nothing further will happen
    • Diversion program – report is sent to Court Services, juvenile is given the opportunity to complete an assessment and upon successful completion of recommended services, avoids going to court and having a record
    • Petition filed with the court – juvenile and parent will receive a summons to appear in court before a judge to be formally charged with an offense
  • The juvenile has the right to an attorney, one will be appointed at the initial court appearance if a private attorney has not been hired
  • See the Youth tab for court etiquette and tips
  • Responsibilities
    • Transport the juvenile to court, on time
    • Remain with the juvenile and appear before the judge with them
    • Facilitate communication between the juvenile and their attorney
    • Communicate with Court Services if the juvenile refuses to comply with court orders, attend school, attend court, and/or follow household rules
    • Contact law enforcement and Court Services if the juvenile runs away/goes missing. It is against the law for the juvenile to be locked/kicked out of the home
    • Assist the juvenile in completing court ordered services
    • Ensure all costs and fees are paid
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