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.
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:
(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;
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).
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:
An interview results in one of the following outcomes:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.