The Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice has outlined the process for administering cases as they move through the juvenile justice system.
This process consists of three basic stages, starting with intake, moving through petition and detention and ending with adjudication or trial.
What happens at the intake stage?
A juvenile at the intake stage has engaged in conduct that invites law enforcement involvement and the filing of a complaint. A responding officer who finds probable cause may advance the case by issuing a summons for a hearing, diverting the matter or taking the offender into custody for detention at a juvenile facility.
What happens at petition and detention?
An officer who finds probable cause will file a petition to kick off the judicial process, and the court will then schedule an arraignment hearing to advise the juvenile of the charges. A detained juvenile has the right to arraignment within 72 hours after placement in detention. He or she has the right to legal representation at this hearing, and the judge will decide whether to require continued detention pending adjudication or trial. A juvenile who is not detained does not have the right to legal counsel at arraignment.
What happens at adjudication or trial?
Depending on the nature of the allegations, authorities may choose to charge the defendant as an adult or a juvenile. In either case, the defendant has the right to legal representation and the right to call and cross-examine witnesses. An offender adjudicated as a juvenile does not have the right to demand a jury, and it is up to the judge to make a determination of delinquency. An offender tried as an adult has the right to a jury trial.
If your child is going through the court system, you can provide guidance and support when you understand the stages of the juvenile justice system.