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Juvenile court

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Anyone here familiar with the US juvenile court system? Specifically I need to know the usual steps between a minor (older teen) being arrested and seeing a judge for official sentencing. I'd like to have a few weeks delay between the former and the latter for the purposes for the storyline, but not sure if that's unrealistic and the kids would usually see the judge sooner or not until significantly longer. Help?
#1 - January 15, 2015, 03:44 PM
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I don't have time right now to write much, but I will say the wheels of justice turn slowly, very slowly. One of the big mistakes I see in books and scripts is having everything happen so quickly. There are all kinds of things that need to happen between arrest and sentencing. It all takes time.
#2 - January 15, 2015, 06:10 PM

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And things get mixed up, lost, misunderstood, etc. I recall going to court and our son's name  being called  several times, and they wondered where he was. He had not been transported  from the detention center where he was being held.  I think you should contact people in the system where you live. Things vary from place to place. Good luck.
#3 - January 15, 2015, 08:35 PM
Sheila Welch,  author/illustrator. Don't Call Me Marda, Waiting to Forget, Something in the Air, The Shadowed Unicorn, Little Prince Know-It-All

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Thanks! That's what I would have assumed based on what I know of the adult system, but I was watching a documentary on the "Kids for Cash" scandal and it sounded as if the kids were seeing the judge and being sent off pretty much right after they were caught, so I wasn't sure if the juvenile system worked differently.

(Unfortunately I don't live in the place I'm writing about, so it's a little difficult to get direct info.)
#4 - January 16, 2015, 05:01 AM
YA paranormal, sci fi, & fantasy:
GIVE UP THE GHOST
Fallen World series
Earth & Sky trilogy
A MORTAL SONG
http://www.megancrewe.com

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Megan, you might add the location where your story is set, because laws vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and even withing a specific state/province, the actual experience probably varies depending on whether the action takes place in a large metropolitan area (the process is likely to take longer) than in a rural area.
#5 - January 16, 2015, 06:43 AM

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It's supposed to be Philadelphia, which is why I was researching Kids for Cash, although I think that was more in a rural area so maybe not all that relevant for logistics even though in PA.

(It's a pretty small part of the story--the arrested character never appears on page, just is talked about--which is why I was hoping I could confirm timeline plausibility quickly here rather than trying to track down someone on the legal side of things who's open to chatting.)
#6 - January 16, 2015, 11:30 AM
« Last Edit: January 16, 2015, 11:35 AM by Megan »
YA paranormal, sci fi, & fantasy:
GIVE UP THE GHOST
Fallen World series
Earth & Sky trilogy
A MORTAL SONG
http://www.megancrewe.com

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Juveniles have the same rights as adults and in general, the same process applies in the juvenile justice system as in the adult system (although the terms are different). There are steps to be taken between arrest and disposition (sentencing) and although the goal is to have a speedy process, it still takes time, especially in a city.

As I mentioned, the terms are different in the Juv Justice system.

For example:
The trial is called the adjudication hearing (and being guilty is called being adjudicated).
Sentencing is called disposition

Here's a link I found to give you more information specifically for Pennsylvania.The whole process is laid out with all the possibilities and steps. You can see there are time limits for different hearings, but your timeline seems realistic:
http://jlc.org/resources/publications/navigating-juvenile-justice-system-pennsylvania
#7 - January 17, 2015, 08:14 PM
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I was a counselor who spent a considerable amount of time in court with juveniles in Texas.  Also have a book coming out for children of incarcerated parents. Neither makes me an expert, but I agree with most of what fellow members have said.  You can sit on court all day without the case being called.  You can sit in court for a week and then have it settled out of court.  It often takes weeks, months to go from the arrest (so to speak) to the first court date. Your subject and be either in or out of juvie detention during this time. Often there are all sorts of advocates involved to complicate the process.  (SPED, Limited Language, Child abuse advocates working with the defense.)The rules are an excellent resource, but be advised, as someone said, there is all kinds of red tape, mess ups, delays and problems that can give you the space you might need.
#8 - January 18, 2015, 09:49 AM

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Thanks again--especially to Jeanne for that link! I'd tried searching on the internet but hadn't come up with anything that detailed.  :)
#9 - January 18, 2015, 02:32 PM
YA paranormal, sci fi, & fantasy:
GIVE UP THE GHOST
Fallen World series
Earth & Sky trilogy
A MORTAL SONG
http://www.megancrewe.com

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