Below you will find definitions for common terms used in juvenile court.
When a child commits a crime, he or she is responsible for the harm caused. The youth needs to take action to repair the harm and restore the victim's community's losses to their pre-crime state, when possible.
In an adjudicatory hearing, the court hears the evidence in a case and determines whether the allegations contained in the complaint are supported by the evidence. In criminal cases, there is a determination of whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty.
The purpose of an advisement hearing is to determine whether a defendant/juvenile or his or her parents wish to obtain an attorney, waive their right to counsel, or to see if they qualify to have an attorney paid by the stat under Virginia's financial guidelines.
A finding of guilt in a juvenile case may be appealed to the Circuit Court. The appeal must be filed within ten days of the Juvenile Court's final order. If appealed, the defendant is entitled to a trial de novo in Circuit Court. This results in a new adjudicatory hearing in Circuit Court with the juvenile considered innocent until found guilty by that court.
An evaluation of a child. An assessment looks at the chances a child will commit another crime. They also may include psychological, education, and family factors relating to the youth. You can read about the assessments used by Fairfax County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court here.
A hearing at the request of an attorney, the Commonwealth, or the court to determine if a child understands the charges and can help with their own defense. A trained psychologist will evaluate the child.
A document signed by a judge, directing youth to do something.
A detention hearing occurs when the police pick up a youth and bring them to the Juvenile Detention Center or Shelter Care. Detention hearings occur the next day court is open after a youth enters the facility. For example, if a youth is picked up on a Friday evening, the detention hearing will be on Monday. Youth may only be detained at JDC if age 14 or over.
- An attorney will be there to help your child with the process
- The judge will advise a youth and their parent/guardian of a youth's rights
- The judge will determine probable cause
- The judge WILL NOT decide if your child is guilty or innocent at this hearing
- A youth may be released to their parent/guardian with or without services
- A youth may remain in JDC or Shelter Care until the next hearing
- If a youth stays at JDC or Shelter Care, the next hearing will be within 21 days
- A detention review may be filed before trial
A youth may be released from JDC or Shelter Care but still need court supervision. If this happens, your child may be released to you and placed on Supervised Release Services
The disposition is the same as sentencing and may or may not happen immediately after the adjudicatory hearing. The prosecutor and probation officer (if present) will provide recommendations. The judge will make the final decision based on everything presented, including the charge, the law surrounding the case, and the youth's history. A youth will receive some form of consequence if the judge found them to be delinquent.
An order allowing a minor to live away from parents/guardians. This means they are free from the care and control of a parent or guardian. A minor must meet specific requirements before a judge is able to enter an emancipation order; most specifically to show the maturity and independent financial ability to care for themselves.
The legal erasing of a juvenile court record as though it never existed.
Additional supervision for juveniles on probation or parole. Targeted at high-risk cases and intended to add traditional probation/parole supervision.
A petition informs a judge of the charges against a youth. Starts the formal court process.
A youth's response before a judgment of "guilty" or "not guilty". Before accepting a plea of "guilty", the judge makes sure the youth understands the charges against him or her. The judge will personally inform the youth of his rights (to have the state prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, to confront the witnesses against him, etc.). A youth must understand the potential consequences of giving up those rights.
Submitted to a judge identifying risks, needs, and recommended disposition or treatment for a youth adjudicated delinquent. The judge is not required to agree with this report and may give a youth a different disposition.
A Preliminary Protective Order (PPO) directs that actions be taken to protect an allegedly abused child. For example, a PPO may direct an alleged abuser to leave the child's home and have no contact with him or her. A judge issues this order prior to a hearing based upon an affidavit filed by a social worker from Child Protective Services (CPS). Whenever an emergency removal order or preliminary protective order is issued, the court holds a hearing within 5 days to determine whether the order should continue in effect.
Supervision of a delinquent youth in the community instead of a secure facility. When on probation, the youth must comply with any conditions ordered by a judge. These may include routine drug tests, payment of restitution, participation in treatment or education programs, and/or completion of community service.
For more information about probation in Fairfax County visit our Juvenile Probation and Parole webpage.
Reason to believe a youth committed the offense for which they were charged. Neither an arrest nor a search can occur without probable cause.
Factors that help reduce the impact of risk factors in a young person's life. These can be family, school, community/peers, etc.
A placement that can be either before or after sentencing. Placement may include education ,mental health care, and medical care. The facility, youth factors, and charge(s) determine the length of stay.
Payments that a judge may order a youth to make to a victim of a crime.
A court hearing to review a child's progress and/or compliance of court orders.
Behaviors and factors that may contribute to committing crimes. These may include family conflict and the use or involvement with drugs and firearms. Friends who engage in negative behaviors are also a risk factor.
Consequences given to youth when they break the rules of probation.. Examples include: community service, electronic monitoring, increased probation supervision, and/or curfew restrictions or incarceration. Sanctions may come from a probation officer or a judge.
A court order requiring a person to appear in court at a certain date and time.
Frequent absence from school without permission. The law requires youth to attend school up to a certain age.
An order signed by a judge. It allows law enforcement to make an arrest, perform a search, or seize property.