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Juvenile Delinquency: What You Need to Know

  • Posted by: Ashling Soares

What is a Juvenile Review Board?

In Connecticut, children may face “juvenile delinquency” for violating most state or federal laws. However, not every minor that is arrested ends up in court. A juvenile delinquency case may be handled either judicially or nonjudicially, before a Juvenile Review Board (“JRB”). The goal of this diversion program is to keep children out of the criminal justice system. In order to qualify for JRB, among other requirements, the alleged crime must be a misdemeanor (not a felony), the child must not have any previous delinquency convictions, and the child must admit to the act(s). The maximum sentence that may be imposed in cases handled nonjudicially is probation for up to six months.

Is my child eligible for JRB?

In accordance with the Connecticut Practice Book, after a child’s arrest, the arresting officer will file a juvenile delinquency summons and police report (collectively referred to as the complaint) for the alleged delinquent act with the juvenile court clerk. After the clerk assigns both juvenile identification and docket numbers to the complaint, it is then referred to the probation department. A probation officer determines if the complaint is eligible for JRB. Generally, a complaint is ineligible if:

  1.  the alleged misconduct

(a)     was a felony,

(b)     involved the theft or unlawful use of a motor vehicle,

(c)     involved the sale of illegal drugs or possession of illegal drugs with intent to                            sell, or

(d)     involved the use or possession of a firearm;

  1. the child was previously convicted delinquent or adjudicated to be from a family with service needs (“FWSN”), the designation for a family in which a child has committed a status offense such as truancy;
  2. the child admitted to being delinquent at least twice previously in nonjudicial proceedings;
  3. the child committed the alleged misconduct while on probation or under judicial supervision; or
  4. the nature of the alleged misconduct warrants judicial intervention (CPB §27-4A).

The court may, however, issue a waiver, allowing the above-described cases to be handled nonjudicially. On the other hand, the prosecutor may object to nonjudicial handling, in which case the court must determine if the designation is appropriate.

When a case is eligible to be handled nonjudicially, a juvenile probation officer sends written notice to the child and parent or guardian. The notice includes an initial interview time and the court house location (CPB § 27-1A).

What Happens During the Initial Interview?

During the initial interview, the probation officer will meet with the child and the parent or guardian to discuss the delinquency allegations. The officer will explain the charges in simple, nontechnical language and inform them of the child’s rights, including that the child:

  1. has the right to remain silent and anything the child says may be used against him or her;
  2. is entitled to an attorney, and if the child and his or her parent or guardian cannot afford one, they may apply for a public defender;
  3. will not be questioned unless he or she consents, can consult with an attorney before being questioned and has an attorney present during questioning, and can stop answering questions at any time; and
  4. has the right to a trial and to confront and cross-examine witnesses (CPB § 30a-1).

What Happens After the Initial Interview?

An interview results in one of the following outcomes:

  1. The interview will end if the child or the parent or guardian wants legal representation or the officer determines that a judicial hearing is necessary. Any further interview to consider nonjudicial handling may only take place with legal counsel present, unless waived.
  2. An initial plea hearing may be scheduled if the evidence warrants and the child (a) denies responsibility for the alleged misconduct or (b) orally acknowledges responsibility but refuses to write and sign a statement of responsibility.
  3. The child may be placed on nonjudicial supervision for up to 180 days if (a) the child acknowledges responsibility for the misconduct, (b) both the child and parent or guardian sign a statement of responsibility, and (c) the officer determines, based on the child’s total circumstances, that a court appearance is unnecessary (CPB §§ 27-6–27-8A).


A child who is placed on JRB supervision and his or her parent or guardian have the right to a conference with the probation supervisor or a court hearing if they object to the supervision. Otherwise, the case is resolved if and when the child successfully completes the nonjudicial supervision period. However, the probation officer may initiate a juvenile delinquency hearing on the charges during the supervision period if the child violates the supervision terms. The signed statement of responsibility cannot be used against the child at this hearing (CPB §27-8A).

The Judicial Branch’s Court Support Services Division (CSSD) provides probation services to court-involved children and their families. CSSD also administers a network of contracted community providers that provide treatment and other services to these children and their families. This division is in charge of coordinating such programs with DCF and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and tailoring the programs to each juvenile based on factors including age, mental health, and juvenile offense history.

If your child is, or may be, facing juvenile delinquency, call Ashling Soares Law today at 203.529.5115 or email info@ashlingsoareslaw.com.

Author: Ashling Soares

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