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Juvenile Process
    Crime Reported.
    Police Investigate and determine that the offender is a juvenile.
    Police turn police report over to the JCCO (Juvenile Community Corrections Officer)
    JCCO decides whether to
     1. enter into an informal adjustment or
     2. refer to juvenile court.
    DA reviews case to determine if charges will be filed.
    If charges are filed, a juvenile summons is issued to juvenile and parent.
    Juvenile attends the first appearance date in Court and enters an admission or denial.  Juvenile gets an attorney and conditions of release are set. Sometimes a psychological evaluation is ordered. Other times it is ordered later in the process.
    First hearing date is set a number of weeks from the first appearance date.
    More first hearing dates can be set.
    Plea/sentencing can occur on a first hearing date.  If no plea/sentencing is agreed upon, case is put on a trial list.
    Juvenile trailing dockets for trials are scheduled periodically throughout the year. 
    At the trial date, the juvenile may still plead guilty.  Otherwise, trial is held.
 

COMMON QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS REGARDING JUVENILE COURT PROCEEDINGS


What is the difference between juvenile offenses and adult crimes?
    The crime itself is the same as defined by the Maine Criminal Code, meaning, for example, a juvenile (someone under l8) who assaults someone will be charged with assault the same as an adult who assaults someone would be. The difference between juvenile offenses and adult crimes is the way they are handled by the criminal justice system.

What is the goal of the juvenile justice system?
    The goal of the juvenile justice system is primarily to rehabilitate youth. An emphasis is placed on strengthening the family and making juveniles productive and responsible citizens so they do not become adult offenders.

What is a juvenile community corrections officer (JCCO)?
    A JCCO works for the Department of Corrections and is similar to a probation officer. JCCOs perform all juvenile probation functions, provide services to juveniles in the Long Creek Youth Development Center as well as administer informal adjustments. While the juvenile’s offense is pending disposition, the JCCO monitors the juvenile’s conditions of release. The JCCO also monitors conditions of probation once the juvenile is adjudicated.

What is informal adjustment?
    Informal adjustment is a voluntary contract between the juvenile and the JCCO for a period of supervision for a period of up to, but not exceeding, six months, similar to probation. This is done without bringing the juvenile’s case to court. If the contract is violated in any way, the agreement is terminated and the case is sent to court. If the juvenile does not violate the terms of the informal adjustment for the duration of the agreement the charges are dismissed.


What is juvenile court?
    The juvenile court is the district court that has jurisdiction over juvenile crimes. Because juvenile crimes are dealt with differently than adult crimes, the court is referred to as juvenile court and the prosecutor handles only juvenile crimes.

What is a juvenile petition?
    A juvenile petition is a short statement of the facts regarding the alleged crime which is filed in court by the prosecutor to formally begin the criminal process.

What is juvenile summons?
    A juvenile summons follows the juvenile petition and is issued to the juvenile and the juvenile’s parents by the law enforcement agency. The summons notifies them of the time and place the juvenile is to appear in court. The summons will include a description of the alleged crime, an explanation of the juvenile’s constitutional rights as well as a notice that the case may be informally adjusted.

What is an initial appearance?
    An initial appearance is when the juvenile is officially informed of the charges brought by the State. At this time the juvenile will either admit to or deny the offense.  The Court imposes conditions of release at this hearing. 

What is a first hearing date?
    The first hearing date is when the prosecutor and the defense attorney discuss alternative dispositions to resolve the juvenile’s case. There often are several first hearing dates before the final agreement on disposition is reached. The first hearing date does not require victim testimony to prove the facts of the offense. If the juvenile admits to the offense at the first hearing date, the victim can address the court regarding the impact of the crime.

How is a juvenile case resolved?
    A juvenile case can be resolved many different ways, including:
•    fines
•    community service
•    restitution
•    probation (conditions will vary by case)
•    letters of apology
•    no contact orders
•    filing (where a case is put on hold for a period of time while the juvenile completes certain requirements. If this is successful the charges are dismissed)
•    30 day shock sentence at the Long Creek Youth Development Center
•    commitment to the Long Creek Youth Development Center until the age of 18 or 21
•    dismissal
•    finding of ‘not guilty’

Could the juvenile be bound over and tried as an adult?
    It is extremely rare that a juvenile is bound over and tried as an adult. A bind-over hearing will occur only in very, very serious situations and the Superior Court must find probable cause that murder or a Class A, B, or C crime was committed by the juvenile. Prosecuting attorneys make the decision whether to request a bind-over hearing for the court to consider binding the case over to adult court. 

How long does the juvenile court process take?
    The process of the juvenile justice system is much longer than that for adults. Juvenile cases are frequently continued or rescheduled for various reasons, sometimes to await the completion of a psychological evaluation or the collection of school or other juvenile records.  Sometimes cases await juvenile placements in residential alternatives.

Will I get restitution?
    As a victim of a juvenile crime, you have the right to request restitution for your non-insured out-of-pocket expenses. However, you may not get the full amount of restitution because juveniles to not have the same ability to pay restitution than adults do. By law, the judge must consider the juvenile’s ability to pay and the judge will have the ultimate say on what restitution is ordered.

What rights do victims of juvenile crimes have?
    Victims of juvenile crimes have the same rights that victims of adult crimes have. These include:
    1. The right to be notified, when practicable, of the following:
        a. of defendant’s release on pre-conviction bail in cases of    
            domestic violence
        b. details of the plea agreement before it is submitted to the Court 
            and to comment on the plea agreement
        c. time and place of the trial
        d. time and place of sentencing
    2. The right to participate at sentencing:
        a. make an oral statement in open Court
        b. submit a written statement to the Court
        c. to have that statement considered with all other appropriate
            factors
    3. The right to request and to receive notification of the defendant’s release from the Department of Corrections, including the Long Creek Youth Development Center or the County Jail in cases of murder, or Class A, B or C crimes.
    4. The right to restitution for compensable loss when determined eligible by the Court.
    5. The right to receive information regarding the Maine Crime Victim Compensation Program.
    6. The right to minimization of the disclosure of names of minors who are victims of sexual offenses.
    7. The right to assistance from the victim/witness advocate program in the District Attorney’s Office.

What documents do victims have the right to see at Court?
    The victim has the right to view the juvenile petition, the record of the hearing and the final disposition. The police records, JCCO’s records and similar records are not available to the victim without a Court order.

What records are permanent and are the records available to the public?
    Unless the juvenile is in the process of adjudication for a juvenile crime or an adult crime; unless the juvenile has been found to have committed a juvenile crime since the date of disposition of the previous crime; or unless is has been less than three years since the date of disposition of the previous crime, the juvenile’s records will be sealed and not available to the public.

Who can sit in on a juvenile hearing?
    Hearings on a juvenile crime of murder or a Class A, B or C crime are open to the public. Hearings on a Class D crime, if it is the second Class D or higher offense for the juvenile, are open to the public. Everything else is closed to the public.  Unless sequestered victims of crime are permitted to sit in on hearings in which they are the victim.

 
Last Modified: June 13, 2007