Juvenile Justice System

The Juvenile Justice System operates much differently from the criminal justice system.  Each juvenile case is treated uniquely based upon assessment of all relevant factors and information.  Juvenile dispositions may be handled informally, through the entry of a consent decree, or through adjudication by the Court. 

The goal of the juvenile justice system is to seek balance between accountability, community protection, and the development of competences that lead juveniles to be responsible and productive community members. 


Adjudication - Finding of guilt by the juvenile court Judge.

Adjudication Hearing - a proceeding before a juvenile court Judge to determine if the juvenile committed the offense(s) charged.  An adjudication hearing proceeds much the same as a criminal trial; however, there is no jury. 

72 Hour Detention Hearing - a proceeding before a juvenile court Judge to determine if a juvenile that has been detained will remain in placement pending outcome of the case.  This hearing must take place within 72 hours after the juvenile has been detained.

Consent Decree - An order of the Court which places the juvenile under the supervision of the juvenile probation department.  Failure to adhere to the conditions of a consent decree may result in the juvenile being brought back before the Court for an adjudication hearing. 

Disposition - The decision of the juvenile court Judge as to what is to be done with the juvenile.  Disposition is similar to sentencing in the criminal justice system.

Informal Disposition - treatment of a juvenile offense through informal supervision by a probation officer.  An informal disposition is generally used for young and first-time offenders who pose little risk to the community.  No charges will appear on the juvenile’s record if supervision is successfully completed.   

Placement - commitment of a juvenile offender to a treatment or detention facility. 

Probation – supervision of a juvenile by a juvenile probation officer.  All terms and conditions of probation must be followed by the juvenile such as curfews and community service.
© 2008 Perry County Victim Witness Program : : PCVWP
This project was supported by the Office for Victims of Crime, U.S. Department of Justice. 
Points of view are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position of the U.S. Department of Justice.

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