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The Juvenile Court


A. CHINS/DELINQUENT

Child in need of supervision (CHINS) is a title used to identify status offenders. A simple definition of a status offense is an offense that if committed by an adult would not be against the law. The most common of these age-specific behaviors are truancy, running away from home, curfew violations, being out of parental control (incorrigible), underage drinking, tobacco violations and petty offenses.

A delinquent charge is generally filed when a minor commits a crime that would be a violation of the law if committed by an adult. Some delinquent offenses include burglary, robbery, arson, assault, rape, murder, and grand theft.

The term “delinquent child” means any child ten years of age or older who, regardless of where the violation occurred, has violated any federal, state or local law or regulation for which there is a penalty of a criminal nature for an adult (except state or municipal hunting, fishing, boating, park or traffic laws that are classified as misdemeanors of 35-9-2, or petty offenses).

If a child (ages 10 through 17) goes to juvenile court he is usually charged as either a child in need of supervision or a delinquent.

B. DETENTION HEARINGS/LENGTH OF DETENTION

According to DLCL 26-8B-3 an apparent or alleged child in need of supervision taken into temporary custody by a law enforcement officer may be placed in detention for no more than 24 hours (excluding Saturdays, Sundays and court holidays) if the Judge finds that the parents/guardian are not available or are not suitable to receive the child….

A temporary custody hearing (detention hearing) should be held within 24 hours (except weekends and court holidays) of the child being placed in a detention facility.

According to SDCL 26-7A-14 a child apparently in need of supervision or an apparent DELINQUENT child taken into temporary custody…may be placed in detention as designated by the court to be the least restrictive alternative for the child. The temporary caretaker (JDC) shall promptly notify the state’s attorney of the child’s placement.

No child may be held in temporary custody longer than 48 hours…excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and court holidays unless a petition has been filed, the child is within the jurisdiction of the court and the court orders longer custody during a noticed hearing or a telephonic hearing.

C. TYPES OF COURT HEARINGS

  1. DETENTION HEARING (also called temporary custody hearing) 
    The juvenile’s initial court appearance occurs within 24 or 48 hours of the juvenile taken into temporary custody by a law enforcement officer and placed in detention. The purpose of the hearing is to decide if the juvenile remains in secure detention (pending the next hearing) or if the juvenile may be released to a parent or guardian.
  2. ADJUDICATORY HEARING 
    The process in juvenile court where a minor child appears with his parents and is found either innocent or guilty of the charges that have been brought against him.
    PRE-DISPOSITIONAL SOCIAL CASE STUDY
    An investigation ordered by the Court to gather information on an adjudicated delinquent or CHINS for sentencing purposes.
  3. DISPOSTIONAL HEARING 
    The dispositional hearing is the juvenile court process that decides what action       would be in the best interests of the juvenile defendant and the community after the adjudicatory hearing.

D. THE COURT PROCESS

The adjudication hearing is the point in the juvenile court process when a Judge listens to the information presented by the various parties in the case and decides such things as: did the juvenile commit the offense he’s charged with, what laws were broken and what were the surrounding circumstances.

At the adjudicatory hearing the juvenile may admit the petition (admits his guilt) and the case may proceed to the dispositional hearing.

The juvenile may deny the petition (charges brought by the State) and ask for a trial. At this time the juvenile is given the right to have an attorney and if he can’t afford an attorney one will be appointed for him. He has the right to have witnesses appear to testify for him and he has the right to cross examine the witnesses who testify against him. If the juvenile is found not guilty the case is dismissed. If the juvenile is found guilty of the offense a dispositional hearing must be scheduled.

The dispositional hearing may be held immediately following the adjudicatory hearing or may be postponed for a time and a pre-dispositional social study may be ordered. An officer of the Court, usually a probation officer (court service officer) is assigned to the case. He visits with the family, friends, law enforcement and other involved parties.

A pre-dispositional report is completed by the juvenile and his parents. The purpose of the report is to give the sentencing Judge working knowledge of the juvenile being sentenced. This report will indicate the strengths and weaknesses of the family. It will show the prior behavior of the juvenile in school, home and the community. The juvenile’s performance in school and at his job is also taking into consideration.

E. DISPOSITIONS

The Court has access to many dispositions. Here are the most common ones.

  1. Juvenile ordered to pay restitution or fines
  2. Juvenile ordered to do community service
  3. Juvenile ordered to make apology to victims
  4. Juvenile ordered to undergo chemical/drug evaluation
  5. Juvenile ordered to undergo random UA’s/PBT’s
  6. Juvenile ordered to spend time in secure detention
  7. Juvenile ordered on probation or intensive probation
  8. Juvenile ordered on house arrest
  9. Juvenile ordered on home detention pending placement
  10. Juvenile ordered to treatment center, foster home or group home
  11. Juvenile committed to Department of Corrections