Coordinator: Deputy District Attorney Cassandra Edwards
A person seventeen years of age or younger is a legal minor and comes within the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court. Their cases are processed differently than adults and for the most part are handled in closed confidential court proceeding. Unlike the adult system where the police directly send requests for criminal charges to our office; the juvenile systems requires the police to first direct their request for charges to the Juvenile Probation Department.
A number of diversion programs exist both at the local police level and at the Juvenile Probation Department level that often results in a minor being placed in a focused treatment program in advance of the filing of formal criminal charges. If these diversion approaches show positive results the minor may never face formal charging.
Juvenile Probation may in a number of cases decide that filing of formal criminal charging is needed. Our office will review their requests and will authorize, when the evidence is sufficient, the filing of a juvenile petition [charging document].
Under certain specified circumstances a juvenile can be prosecuted as an adult and will be removed from the juvenile court system. These adult certifications are not frequent but will occur when situations demand such an action. Procedures now exist that permit our office, without prior judicial authorization, to directly file certain serious and/or violent offenses in the adult court system. Direct filing is a process that will be used when appropriate, but only after a careful review of the alternatives available.