Procedure Taken before a Juvenile Is Formally Charged in Court


Paul Seeman pic

Paul Seeman

A former judge for the Superior Court of Alameda County, California, Paul Seeman served as the vice chair of the California Center for Judicial Education and Research (“CJER”) Juvenile Law Education Committee. Previously a juvenile court Referee and judge Pro Tem, Paul Seeman presided over dependency and delinquency hearings

The procedure for suspected juvenile offenders is substantially different from that of adults suspected of committing an offense. Typically, police have more discretion in situations involving minor offenders, they may issue warnings, divert the case to an informal resolution, or hold the minor in custody briefly and the release them to a parent or legal guardian. Finally, they may refer the case to a juvenile court.

When a minor is referred to a juvenile court, the court prosecutor becomes involved. Prosecutors may dismiss the case, deal with the case informally, or file a civil petition that formally charges the juvenile with a criminal offense. The procedure the prosecutor takes will depend on factors such as the gravity of the alleged offense, the age of the juvenile, and the minor’s past record as well as his/her social history.


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