Juvenile Delinquency

When a minor is charged with a crime in the state of Michigan, the default route is the juvenile delinquency proceeding. This means that the prosecutor will file what is called a “petition” in the Family Division of the Circuit Court. The notable difference between filing in the Family Division and traditional District or Circuit court is that the Famil Division will focus on the rehabilitation of the minor, as opposed to traditional punishment for adults.

Once the petition is filed, however, the case will proceed like any other criminal case. The parties will exchange evidence, attend a pretrial examination, and, if necessary, negotiate a dismissal or plea deal. If the case is not dismissed, and the parties cannot agree on a plea, the case will proceed to trial.

If the minor is ultimately found guilty (through a plea or after trial), they will be given what is called an “adjudication” as opposed to an adult “conviction.” In the Family Division, an adjudication results in a “disposition,” as opposed to an adult “sentence.” The Family Division has considerable flexibility to impose conditions as a result of a disposition. The court may let the minor off with a warning or they may take the more serious route of imposing juvenile detention. Either way, the purpose of the disposition is to help the minor get back on track – and the court will impose a disposition that it believes is in the best interests of the minor and the public. Again, the point of the disposition must be to rehabilitate the juvenile rather than to punish him or her.

Juvenile Diversion Programs

ZAYID LAW frequently utilizes Michigan’s juvenile diversion programs to help minors accused or charged with crimes avoid the traditional legal system. There are two primary methods to engage in a diversion program:

  • Juvenile Diversion Act: A minor may be diverted from the court system all together and referred to a person or organization that can work with the minor to address the problems that led to the alleged delinquency.
  • Juvenile Consent Calendar: Essentially probation for minors. The minor is given certain conditions and if they follow the conditions, they will be given a more favorable disposition. Each court has its own practices and procedures when it comes to how they use the consent calendar.

Diversion programs are especially critical for minors because juvenile offenses can be made public records. An unfavorable adjudication can have damaging consequences on your minors life, and it is important to hire an attorney to mitigate the risk for your minor’s case. If you or your minor are accused or charged with a juvenile offense, call me today for a free initial consultation.