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Juvenile Court Overview


Juvenile Court

Juvenile Court is a division of the Orange County Superior Court that determines if a youth broke the law. It helps to protect, guide, and rehabilitate children; as well as helps keep the community safe. Juvenile Court is made up of several types of proceedings, including delinquency, status offenses, and traffic/minor offenses.

  • Juvenile Delinquency proceedings involve youth under that age of 18 alleged to have committed a delinquent act that would be a crime if committed by an adult.
  • Status Offender proceedings involve youth who habitually refuse to obey the reasonable and proper orders or directions of their parents, guardian, or custodian, or who are beyond the control of that person. Examples include curfew, truancy (failure to attend school), drinking alcohol, etc..
  • Juvenile Traffic proceedings and/or minor offenses involve offenses such as loitering, vandalism, unlicensed driver, trespassing, violations of municipal code ordinances, etc.

The following are some of the people involved in the Juvenile Court:

Judge - The judge is in charge of the courtroom. The judge listens to information from the probation officer, lawyers, witnesses, and you. Based on this evidence, the judges decides if you are guilty or not guilty and determines the outcome of your case.

District Attorney - The district attorney represents the people of Orange County. Their job is to prove that the charges against you are true. To do this, they present evidence and witnesses against you.

Defense Lawyer or Public Defender - The defense lawyer or public defender represents you. A defense lawyer who specializes in juvenile justice cases can help you understand your rights and know what to expect. They present evidence and witnesses on your behalf. If you cannot pay for a private lawyer, the court will appoint a lawyer called a public defender free of charge.

Probation Officer - Juvenile probation officers investigate youths’ situations and backgrounds and write reports for the court. These reports give the judge a description of the youth’s situation, including life at home and school, the current charges(s), and any previous arrests or petitions. It can also include statements from you, your family, and other people who know you; a school report; a statement by the victims; and recommendations about what the court should do if the judge finds that you did what the petition says.

Probation officers also provide supervision and case management services for youth and their families in the community and throughout their involvement with the juvenile justice system. They provide a broad range of services including conducting assessments, providing supervision and interventions, monitoring court ordered sanctions, and making service referrals for treatment.