When appearing for a juvenile’s Preliminary Inquiry investigation or Detention Review hearing, please bring the following:

  • Juvenile’s birth certificate
  • Juvenile’s social security card
  • The parent, guardian or custodian’s driver’s license or state identification
  • The juvenile’s Medicaid Card or private insurance card
  • Proof of income (most recent tax return or the last two paycheck stubs)
  • Completed yellow personal history sheet (if one was sent prior to the preliminary inquiry investigation).

The Courtroom is a professional setting; it is not a casual environment. Appropriate dress makes a good impression, and it demonstrates respect for the Court and the judicial process. Anyone who appears in Court is expected to dress in a manner demonstrating that he or she understands the serious nature of the Court appearance. This applies to the juvenile, a parent, guardian or custodian of a juvenile, a witness, a caseworker, or any other person.

Dresses, skirts, dress pants, appropriate blouses, dress shirts with a collar, ties, socks, stockings, hosiery, sweaters and suits are examples of what people are expected to wear to Court. Shirts must be tucked into pants.

The following are examples of unacceptable Court appearance clothing:

  • Short pants of any type
  • Jeans with holes, rips or tears
  • Tank tops or halter tops
  • Mini-skirts
  • Any apparel with drug/alcohol references or profanity
  • Body suits or bathing suits
  • Pajamas or other night clothes
  • Hats

Parents are expected to both present their children to the Court in proper clothing, and to set a good example for their children by their own proper dress.

A juvenile’s rights will be explained in detail at every preliminary inquiry meeting, detention review hearing, initial hearing and modification hearing by a juvenile probation officer, a public defender and/or a judicial officer. A juvenile and the juvenile’s parents will be given an opportunity at every hearing to ask questions about a juvenile’s rights in juvenile court. In general terms and for informational purposes only, a juvenile’s rights in juvenile court are listed below.

What are the juvenile’s rights in juvenile court?

  • to know the place and time of all scheduled hearings;
  • to be present at all hearings, unless the juvenile’s presence is waived by the juvenile’s defense attorney;
  • to know the nature of the charges against him or her;
  • to be represented by a defense attorney who does not have a conflict of interest, regardless of ability to pay;
  • to require witnesses to come to Court, or get other evidence before the Court, by use of the Court’s subpoena power;
  • to cross-examine or ask questions of witnesses at fact finding hearings;
  • to not be required to testify;
  • to have the State prove the charges against the juvenile beyond a reasonable doubt at a fact finding hearing;
  • to have the State prove by a preponderance of the evidence that a juvenile, who is charged with a status offense, needs care, treatment and/or rehabilitation that will not otherwise be provided;
  • to have disposition, or completion, of the juvenile’s case within the deadlines established by law;
  • to know the dispositional, or treatment plan, alternatives available to the Court at a dispositional hearing.

Please note that:

  • a juvenile does NOT have a right to post bond in order to be released from the juvenile detention center;
  • a juvenile does NOT have a right to a trial by jury in juvenile court.

Can the juvenile give up his or her rights?

The juvenile’s rights can only be given up, or waived:

  • by the juvenile’s defense attorney, if the juvenile knowingly and freely agrees to the waiver; or
  • by the juvenile’s custodial parent or guardian ad litem if:
  • the parent or guardian does so knowingly and voluntarily;
    • the parent or guardian has no conflict of interest, or interest opposed to the juvenile’s interests;
    • the parent or guardian has had a chance to meaningfully consult with the juvenile outside of the presence of the juvenile probation officer; and
    • the juvenile knowingly, intentionally and intelligently agrees to the waiver of his or her rights.

Are juvenile hearings confidential?

Generally, juvenile hearings and records are confidential except in certain circumstances. But, once a petition to adjudge delinquency is filed against a juvenile, some hearings can be open to the public.  If a juvenile is charged with serious offenses, such as murder or a felony, the hearing must be open to the public.  In some cases, the judge can keep the public out of the hearing if asked to do so by the juvenile, the juvenile’s parent, the prosecutor or the probation officer, or if certain types of motions are being argued in front of the judge.  Because the purpose of the juvenile court is to establish appropriate treatment plans to address a juvenile’s delinquent behavior, the law aims to protect juveniles’ privacy and to balance the needs of the community.

Are juvenile court records confidential?

The records of the juvenile probation department are usually confidential, unless there is a court order issued which requires disclosure of the records.  The records of the juvenile court are less confidential.  Court records are available, without a court order, only to:

  • the Court staff, including the judge;
  • a party or the party’s attorney, (except when the judge has determined that the juvenile or the juvenile’s parent, guardian or custodian may not see all or part of a report);
  • authorized representatives from the Department of Correction or Department of Child Services:
  • a parent in a divorce or custody hearing that involves the juvenile; or
  • a judge or authorized staff member in a Court that needs the information for a presentence investigation in that Court; and
  • the prosecuting attorney or any authorized staff member.

Limited information, including the juvenile’s name, age and the nature of offense, is available to the public without a court order whenever a petition has been filed alleging that a child is delinquent as the result of the following alleged acts or combination of alleged acts:

  • an act that would be murder or a felony if committed by an adult; or
  • twelve (12) years old or older and accused of committing two separate acts which would be misdemeanors if committed by an adult; or
  • under twelve (12) years old and accused of committing five (5) separate acts which would be misdemeanors if committed by an adult.

If the juvenile is found to be delinquent under the above circumstances, the juvenile’s photograph may also be released to the public.

Information that is not to be released without a court order, such as motions concerning psychological evaluations, must be placed inside an envelope marked “confidential” and placed inside the Court’s file.

The juvenile court may grant any person providing services to the juvenile or the juvenile’s family permission to see the Court’s records. The Court can also grant permission to see files on a case-by-case basis to other people depending on the circumstances. The juvenile court may grant access to its records about the juvenile to a school upon receiving a written request from the school stating that release of the juvenile’s records are necessary to serve his or her educational needs or to protect the health or safety of another student, an employee or volunteer at the school. The Court must provide notice of the release to the juvenile and the juvenile’s parents and order the school to keep the information confidential. However, the school can release those same records to another school. Anyone who receives information in this way is required to keep the information confidential.  Victims or their families may be granted access for the purpose of suing the juvenile and/or the juvenile’s parent.

Will the juvenile record be erased when the juvenile reaches adulthood?

Not necessarily. Juvenile court records are not automatically erased, or expunged. The law requires that any person asking for his or her juvenile record to be erased must give a petition for expungement to the juvenile court, asking the juvenile court to remove from court and police files, and any files maintained by a person who provided court-ordered services to a juvenile, all records pertaining to the juvenile’s involvement in juvenile court. The request for expungement can be given to the juvenile court any time after the juvenile’s eighteenth (18th) birthday.  In deciding whether to grant the request, the Court may consider:

  • the best interests of the juvenile;
  • the age of the juvenile at the time the records were made;
  • what the case was about;
  • whether there was an informal adjustment or a finding of delinquency;
  • the disposition of the case;
  • how the juvenile participated in any services;
  • the length of time since the juvenile has had contact with the juvenile court or any police agency;
  • whether the juvenile has a criminal record; and
  • the juvenile’s current status.

If the Court orders the records expunged, the judge must order each police agency and each person who provided court-ordered treatment for the juvenile to send their records to the Court. The records can be destroyed or given to the juvenile.

Expungement process

What to Expect

When a juvenile is arrested or a report is filed with the Court which says that the juvenile may have broken a law, the type of charge made against the juvenile determines which court may hold hearings on the case, where the juvenile may be detained,  and even what treatment plans may be available to help the juvenile.

What is a “delinquent juvenile”?

  • The juvenile must be younger than eighteen (18) years of age when the delinquent act occurs. If a juvenile is caught shoplifting the day before he or she turns eighteen (18), the juvenile will be treated as a juvenile throughout the process. In fact, once a case is filed, the juvenile court’s jurisdiction, or authority, over a juvenile can continue until he or she reaches the age of twenty-one (21). The Court’s authority over the parent can continue until the parent has paid for court ordered services provided to the juvenile.
  • Second, the juvenile must commit a delinquent act.

What is a “delinquent act”?

Delinquent acts are divided into two categories:

  • offenses which would be crimes if committed by an adult, and
  • status offenses, which are acts that are unlawful for person’s under eighteen (18) years of age.

Examples of criminal offenses are: theft, trespass and battery. Examples of status offenses are: running away, truancy, or underage drinking.

What is special about “status offenses”?

A juvenile who commits only a status offense is not a delinquent juvenile unless the Court also finds that the juvenile needs help that:

  • the juvenile is not receiving;
  • the juvenile is unlikely to accept voluntarily; and
  • is unlikely to be provided or accepted without court intervention. In other words, if the juvenile is in court only because of underage drinking, truancy, or running away, the juvenile cannot be adjudicated delinquent unless the judge also finds that the behavior will not be corrected unless the Court is involved with the juvenile.

Do all cases involving juveniles go to juvenile court?

No. Some cases based on certain delinquent acts which would be crimes if committed by an adult are filed directly in adult criminal court. Even if a charge is filed directly in adult criminal court, the juvenile may be held at the Allen County Juvenile Center for up to seventy-two (72) hours.  Most traffic violations and all city or county ordinance violations involving a juvenile are handled in the Allen Superior Court, Traffic & Misdemeanor Division, located at the “Bud” Meeks Justice Center.

What is a preliminary inquiry?

A preliminary inquiry is an investigation by an intake probation officer into the facts and circumstances surrounding the juvenile and the alleged delinquent act. Ideally it will include information on the juvenile’s background, current circumstances and school performance.

Parents have the right to know whether a preliminary inquiry is being made and the reason for the preliminary inquiry. If the juvenile is interviewed, the juvenile and his or her parents must be told:

  • what the investigation is about;
  • that the interview is being done to help the prosecutor determine whether a petition alleging delinquency should be filed;
  • that the intake officer will recommend whether to:
    1. file a case; or
    2. informally adjust the case; or
    3. refer the case to another agency; or
    4. dismiss the case;
  • that the juvenile has the right to remain silent;
  • that any statements the juvenile makes may be used against him in later proceedings;
  • that the juvenile has the right to speak with an attorney before the interview;
  • that the juvenile can stop the interview at any time and speak with an attorney;
  • that the juvenile can stop talking with the intake officer at any time; and
  • that the Court will appoint a defense attorney to represent the juvenile if he or she wants an attorney and cannot afford one, or if a defense attorney is required by Indiana Criminal Procedure Rule 25.

After reviewing the preliminary inquiry report, the prosecutor will decide whether to file a charge against the juvenile. The juvenile could be placed on a program of informal adjustment or a detention review hearing could be immediately held afterwards.

What happens at the detention hearing?

At the detention hearing the judge will consider whether the juvenile should be released from the juvenile detention center until future court hearings take place. The law states the judge “shall” release the juvenile, unless certain circumstances exist.

The juvenile “may” be detained in a secure juvenile detention center (such as the Allen County Juvenile Center) if the judge finds probable cause, or sufficient evidence, to believe the juvenile has committed:

  • a delinquent act which is a crime if committed by an adult;

AND

  • that the juvenile is unlikely to appear for future court dates; or
  • detention is essential to protect the juvenile or the community; or
  • it is contrary to the juvenile’s best interests that he or she be released.

The juvenile “may” be detained in a non-secure juvenile facility (such as the Youth Services Center) if the judge finds probable cause, or sufficient evidence, to believe the juvenile has committed:

  • a delinquent act which is a crime if committed by an adult; or
  • a status offense, and is in need of help the juvenile is not receiving, is unlikely to accept voluntarily and is unlikely to be provided or accepted without the Court’s involvement;

AND

  • the juvenile’s parent or guardian can’t be located or is unable or unwilling to take custody of him or her; or
  • return of the juvenile to the juvenile’s parent, guardian or custodian would be contrary to the juvenile’s welfare and harmful to the safety or health of the juvenile; or
  • the juvenile has requested to remain in detention and the request is reasonable.

The juvenile’s parent, guardian or custodian can talk to the judge at hearing about where he or she thinks is the best place for the juvenile to stay until the next hearing, including the parents’ home. If the parent, guardian or custodian wants the judge to release the juvenile to the juvenile’s other parent or a relative, that person must come to the detention hearing to explain to the judge why the juvenile should be released to that person. Any person who is not a parent or legal custodian and who is offering to accept the juvenile into his or her home, must submit to a criminal and Department of Child Services background check, as well as fingerprinting, before the juvenile may be released to that person. If the juvenile’s parent, guardian or custodian thinks the juvenile should continue to be detained in the juvenile detention center, he or she can explain the reasons to the judge.

Possible outcomes at the detention hearing

Release

The judge can release the juvenile to the custody of the juvenile’s parents with or without specific rules to follow. The law says release is best, so if the judge has concerns about the safety of the juvenile or the community, or whether the juvenile will show up for the next court hearing, the judge may release the juvenile with specific rules to follow. This is called a “conditional release” and is most often supervised by the Detention Alternative Program team. The law allows the judge to impose “any reasonable restrictions on the juvenile’s actions or behaviors” to ensure safety of the juvenile and community and the juvenile’s future attendance at court hearings. The juvenile’s parent, guardian or custodian and the juvenile can be ordered to appear at court. A body attachment or civil arrest warrant may be issued if someone fails to appear.

Detention

Juveniles accused of committing acts which would be crimes if committed by an adult may be detained in the juvenile detention center if the Court finds the juvenile is unlikely to return to court or the Court finds the juvenile must be detained to protect the juvenile and/or the community. Status offenders may be detained only in shelter care placements that remain unlocked except when locking is necessary to protect the safety of the juvenile. Juveniles who are detained must be housed in the county where their families live unless the home county does not have a suitable place for the juveniles.

What is an informal adjustment?

After completing a preliminary inquiry, an intake probation officer can recommend that a delinquency petition not be filed and recommend a program of informal adjustment so that the juvenile’s parent, guardian or custodian and the juvenile can be offered services and be supervised by probation for participation in those services without the necessity of a formal adjudication of delinquency. Informal adjustments are similar to an adult pre-trial diversion program and are frequently recommended when the juvenile has little or no history of delinquent behavior with the Court. The intake probation officer must have probable cause to believe the juvenile is delinquent. The juvenile’s parent, guardian or custodian, the juvenile, and juvenile’s defense attorney must agree to the informal adjustment program. If the juvenile successfully completes the program, the case is closed. Informal adjustments can be used for both status and delinquency offenses.

Informal adjustments can last up to six (6) months and may be extended once for another three (3) months. If the juvenile does not complete the program, the prosecutor may file a request for the Court to authorize the filing of a formal delinquency petition.

What happens when a Delinquency Petition is filed?

First, the prosecutor must ask the Court for permission to file a petition alleging that the juvenile is a delinquent. The Court considers information contained in the preliminary inquiry report and other sources. If the Court finds that there is a good legal reason and that it is in the best interests of the juvenile or the public that the petition be filed, the Court must approve the filing of the delinquency petition. If the juvenile has been detained in the juvenile detention center or placed in a shelter care facility, the delinquency petition must be filed within seven (7) days after the juvenile is taken into custody. Weekends and holidays do not count in the seven (7) day time limit.

If the juvenile has not been detained in the juvenile detention center before the delinquency petition is filed, the Prosecutor filing the petition may request that the juvenile be arrested. The request must be in writing and supported with sworn testimony or an affidavit, which is a written sworn statement. In order to authorize that the juvenile be detained, a judge, who has heard testimony or read sworn statements, must make written findings that there is a good legal reason to believe the juvenile is a delinquent juvenile and that one of the grounds for detention exists.

The court order will say where the juvenile is to be taken upon arrest and the judge will order that a detention hearing be held within forty-eight (48) hours of the juvenile’s arrest. Weekends and holidays do not count in the 48-hour time limit.

What happens at the initial hearing?

After a delinquency petition has been filed, the Court must hold an initial hearing. An initial hearing sometimes may take place at the same time as a detention hearing.

Prior to the Initial Hearing being held, the juvenile’s parent, guardian or custodian and the juvenile must view a videotaped advisement of the juvenile’s rights. Contained within the videotaped advisement of rights, the judge will advise the juvenile’s parent, guardian or custodian that if the juvenile is adjudicated delinquent:

  • the juvenile’s parent, guardian or custodian may be required to participate in programs designed to help the juvenile;
  • the juvenile’s parent, guardian or custodian may be ordered to pay for part or all of the services provided to the juvenile’s parent, guardian or custodian and the juvenile; and
  • the juvenile’s parent, guardian or custodian has the right to dispute whether the juvenile’s parent, guardian or custodian should be ordered to participate in and pay for services.

Anytime a hearing is held, by State rule (Criminal Procedure Rule 25) the juvenile will be appointed a Public Defender if the juvenile does not already have an attorney.

In cases involving an act that would be a crime if committed by an adult, the judge will ask the prosecutor if the prosecutor plans to ask permission to waive, or transfer, the juvenile’s case to adult court. If the prosecutor intends to seek waiver, the Court is not allowed to let the juvenile admit or deny the charge. Instead, a waiver hearing is scheduled.

If waiver (sending the case to adult criminal court) is not an issue, the judge will then ask whether the juvenile admits or denies the statements in the petition alleging that the juvenile is delinquent. If the juvenile admits the statements in the delinquency petition, the Court shall make a court order finding that the juvenile is delinquent and schedule a dispositional hearing. If the juvenile denies the statements in the delinquency petition, the Court will schedule a fact-finding hearing, which is a trial before a judge.

What types of cases involving juveniles are handled in adult criminal court?

A case involving a juvenile may be handled in adult criminal if:

  1. the juvenile court does not have jurisdiction, or authority, over an offense charged in the case; or
  2. the juvenile court gives jurisdiction, or authority, over the case to the adult criminal court.

If a juvenile court does not have jurisdiction over an offense charged in the case, then the case is filed directly in adult criminal court. This is typically called “direct file” or “statutory waiver”. If the juvenile court does have jurisdiction over all of the offenses charged in a case but the prosecutor thinks that the juvenile should be tried as an adult, the prosecutor may ask the judge to waive, or transfer, jurisdiction to the adult criminal court.

Direct File

Under Indiana law, there are certain charges that do not fall within the juvenile court’s jurisdiction. Most traffic offenses and all county or city ordinance violations charged against a juvenile are directly filed in the Allen Superior Court, Traffic and Misdemeanor Division, which is located at the “Bud” Meeks Justice Center. Other, more serious felony offenses, such as murder, rape and robbery, are in the jurisdiction of the adult criminal court if the juvenile was a certain age at the time the offense was allegedly committed. In these types of cases, no waiver hearing is held in the juvenile court.

If a juvenile is arrested for a felony offense which is not under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, the juvenile may be held at the Allen County Juvenile Center for a period of seventy-two (72) hours after a probable cause hearing. During this seventy-two (72) hour period, the prosecutor will get the preliminary police reports and will make a decision about what type of charge to file. If the prosecutor determines that he or she will file the charge in adult criminal court, the prosecutor will request a warrant to transfer the juvenile to the Allen County Jail. A bond amount will be set by the adult criminal court and the juvenile will have the opportunity to post that bond upon his or her transfer to the Allen County Jail. The prosecutor may decide to file a less serious charge which is not under the jurisdiction of the adult criminal court. In that case, the juvenile will remain at the Allen County Juvenile Center and a detention review hearing will be held at the conclusion of the seventy-two (72) hour period.

Waiver

If a juvenile is accused of committing a very serious offense, the prosecutor may ask the judge to waive, or transfer, jurisdiction to the adult criminal court by filing a Motion for Waiver of Juvenile Jurisdiction. Also, if a juvenile has an extensive history of delinquent behavior or a prior criminal conviction in adult criminal court and the prosecutor believes that services offered by the Juvenile Probation Department have been exhausted or are not suitable, then the prosecutor may file a waiver motion. The prosecutor may file a petition to waive jurisdiction to adult criminal court at any time up until the first witness is sworn in at a fact-finding hearing. If the judge grants the waiver motion, then the juvenile’s case will be transferred, charged, and tried in the adult criminal court.

Once a waiver motion is filed, Indiana law requires a “full investigation and hearing” into the request for transfer of jurisdiction into adult criminal court. This means that a waiver hearing before a judge must be scheduled. If a juvenile is detained at the Allen County Juvenile Center, then the waiver hearing must be scheduled within twenty (20) days of the filing of the petition to adjudge delinquency. If a juvenile is not detained, then the waiver hearing must be scheduled within sixty (60) days of the filing of the petition to adjudge delinquency. A juvenile who is on a conditional release, including anklet supervision, is not considered detained for the purpose of this time limit. The time limit for scheduling the waiver hearing does not include weekends and holidays. The time limit may be extended at the request of the juvenile or the juvenile’s defense attorney.

The burden of proof for waiving a juvenile to the adult criminal court system rests on the prosecutor, who must prove that it is more likely than not that the charges alleged are true and, in some cases, that it is in the best interests of the juvenile and/or the community that the adult criminal court receives jurisdiction of the case.

If the judge grants the prosecutor’s waiver motion, then the judge will order the juvenile detained at the Allen County Jail. A bond amount will be set, which can be posted after the juvenile has been transferred to the jail. If the judge does not grant the prosecutor’s waiver motion, then a fact-finding hearing will be scheduled within ten (10) days. The time limit for scheduling the fact-finding does not include weekends and holidays. The time limit may be extended at the request of the juvenile or the juvenile’s defense attorney.

What happens at the fact-finding hearing?

If the juvenile’s case is not waived into adult court and he or she does not admit the charges in the delinquency petition, the Court must hold a fact-finding hearing. If the juvenile has been detained in the juvenile detention center or placed in a shelter care facility, the fact-finding hearing must be held within twenty (20) days of the filing of the delinquency petition. Weekends and holidays do not count in this twenty (20) day time limit. If the juvenile is not detained, the fact-finding hearing must be held within sixty (60) days after the delinquency petition is filed. Again, weekends and holidays do not count in the time limit. A juvenile who is on house arrest or electronic monitoring is not considered “detained” for purposes of this time limit. This time limit may be extended if the juvenile or his or her attorney requests a continuance.

A fact-finding hearing is a trial before the judge, who hears the evidence. Juveniles have no right to jury trials. Witnesses may be called by both the prosecutor and the defense attorney. Evidence, such as documents or specific items, may be given to the Court by both the prosecutor and defense attorney. The prosecutor must prove that the juvenile committed the alleged delinquent or status offense, beyond a reasonable doubt. For status offenses, in addition to finding “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the juvenile committed the status offense, the Court must also find by a “preponderance of the evidence” (more likely than not) that the juvenile needs help that:

  • the juvenile is not receiving;
  • the juvenile is unlikely to accept voluntarily; and
  • is unlikely to be provided or accepted without court intervention.

If the judge decides that the charges are true, the judge will find that the juvenile is a delinquent juvenile. The judge will order the Probation Department to prepare a predispositional report and the case will be scheduled for a Dispositional Hearing. If the Court finds that the juvenile did not commit the offense, the juvenile is released from the Court’s jurisdiction.

Alternatively, the Court can delay its delinquency finding for up to twelve (12) months. A juvenile who is detained in a juvenile detention center must be released within forty-eight (48) hours of the hearing’s conclusion until the Court makes its decision. A juvenile so released may be placed in a shelter care facility. If the juvenile’s parent, guardian or custodian or the juvenile request that the judge make a ruling, the Court must decide the case within thirty (30) days of the request.

What is a predispositional report?

If the judge finds that the juvenile is delinquent, he or she must order a probation officer to prepare a report. The report must state what the juvenile’s needs are and how these needs can best be met.

Any time after a delinquency petition has been filed, the Court can order the juvenile to undergo mental or physical examinations to provide information to the Court regarding the need for treatment.

The probation officer who prepares the report may, or can be court-ordered to, confer with people who have knowledge about the juvenile’s needs. For example, workers from the local mental health center or the juvenile’s school may be included in the process.

Considerations

The predispositional report must explore which court ordered placements or programs least restrict the juvenile’s freedom and interfere least with family life.

If the probation officer feels that placement away from the juvenile’s parent, guardian or custodian’s home is appropriate, he or she must consider whether the juvenile should be placed with a suitable and willing blood or adoptive relative before considering other out-of-home placements.

Copies of report

Copies of the report must be made available, in advance, to the juvenile’s attorney, court-appointed guardian ad litem, or court appointed special advocate, as well as to each attorney representing the juvenile’s parent, guardian or custodian. Copies may be given to the juvenile’s parent, guardian or custodian and the juvenile unless the Court finds, on the record, that the report contains information that should not be released to the juvenile’s parent, guardian or custodian or the juvenile. In that case the Court may give a summary of the report to the juvenile’s parent, guardian or custodian and the juvenile. Indiana law requires that all copies of the predispositional report must be returned to the probation officer at the end of the hearing to be shredded.

Contents of report

The report must include a description of all the possible things the Court can order which the probation officer or caseworker considered. The report shall have an evaluation of each option as compared to the recommended plan. The report shall also have information about any person who assisted in the preparation of the report.

What happens at the dispositional hearing?

The probation officer who prepared the predispositional report must be present at court and available to testify. All parties must have a fair chance to dispute any part of a report admitted into evidence. Factual summaries may be substituted for actual reports which the judge decides are inappropriate for the juvenile and the juvenile’s parent, guardian or custodian to receive.

If the judge finds that the juvenile is mentally ill, the Court may, but is not required to, send the case to a court that can decide mental health commitment proceedings (placement in a mental hospital for ongoing treatment) or the juvenile court can begin a mental health commitment on its own. The delinquency petition can be dismissed or proceed in either case.

Following the hearing, the judge will issue a dispositional order stating what the juvenile’s needs are, how they can best be met, whether and how the juvenile’s parent, guardian or custodian is to participate in programs, and the Court’s reasons for the disposition.

The judge will also advise the juvenile and the juvenile’s parent, guardian or custodian regarding the possibility that the disposition can be modified, or changed at a later date.

Dispositional Outcomes

If a juvenile is found delinquent, either because he or she entered an admission or the Court adjudicated the juvenile delinquent at fact-finding, there are a variety of dispositional alternatives available to the Court. This means there are several different things the Court could order as the juvenile’s treatment plan, which will be determined at the dispositional hearing.

  • The juvenile could be committed to the Indiana Department of Correction. Depending on the charges and the juvenile’s delinquency history, a commitment to the Indiana Department of Correction could be:
    1. for a specific period of time;
    2. until the juvenile turns 18 years of age; or
    3. for an unspecified period of time.
  • The juvenile could be placed in a secure private facility, in a shelter care facility, in a foster home or in a group home.
  • The juvenile could be ordered confined to ACJC for a certain period of time: up to 120 days if the juvenile is 17 years old or older; or up to 90 days if the juvenile is less than 17.
  • The juvenile could be placed under some form of probation supervision.
  • The juvenile could be ordered to participate in out-patient treatment at a social service agency (such as a counseling agency), a psychological or psychiatric facility, a medical facility or an educational facility.
  • The juvenile could be ordered to pay restitution, if any is owed as a result of the charges before the Court.
  • The juvenile could be ordered to perform community service work.
  • In certain circumstances, the juvenile could be ordered emancipated from the parent, guardian or custodian.
  • In certain circumstances, if the juvenile is adjudicated delinquent for an offense relating to a criminal sexual act or to a controlled substance, then the Court could order the juvenile to submit to HIV testing.
  • The juvenile’s driver’s license or learner’s permit could be ordered confiscated by the Juvenile Probation Department or suspended through the Bureau of Motor Vehicles for a certain period of time.
  • The juvenile could be required to obey a no-contact or no-association order.
  • The juvenile could be ordered to attend a variety of counseling, including but not limited to drug & alcohol, individual or family counseling.

If the juvenile is placed in foster care or a residential treatment facility for a twelve month period, the Court must approve a permanency plan for the juvenile. The Court also has to look at whether reasonable efforts have been made to prevent the need for the juvenile’s removal from home.

If the juvenile is placed away from home in another home or in a facility (except for secure detention facilities), the probation department will work to come up with a case plan within 60 days from the date the juvenile is placed. Whenever possible, a juvenile should be placed in the juvenile’s county of residence.

How is a dispositional order changed?

 A juvenile court’s jurisdiction, or authority, over a delinquent juvenile may continue until the juvenile becomes twenty-one (21) years of age, unless the Court closes the juvenile’s case at an earlier time or wardship of the juvenile is awarded to the Department of Correction (DOC). During the Court’s jurisdiction, a motion to change any dispositional order may be made by:

  • the Court;
  • the juvenile;
  • the juvenile’s parent, guardian or custodian;
  • the probation officer;
  • the prosecutor;
  • any person providing court-ordered services to the juvenile’s parent, guardian or custodian or the juvenile; or
  • the juvenile’s guardian ad litem.

A motion to modify can result in a change to the juvenile’s treatment plan. If a motion to modify is authorized by the Court, a modification hearing will be scheduled.

A motion to modify, or change, the Court’s orders is often based on charges that the juvenile has not followed the terms of his or her probation or placement. If that is the case, then the juvenile will be required to either admit or deny the truth of the probation violations. If the juvenile admits to one (1) or more of the alleged probation violations, the motion for modification will be granted by the Court and a modified dispositional hearing shall be scheduled. If the juvenile denies the probation violations, then a fact-finding hearing shall be scheduled. A juvenile may be ordered detained at either the Allen County Juvenile Center or at the Youth Services Center, or conditionally released to his or her home until either the modified dispositional hearing or the fact-finding hearing is held.

The probation officer who prepares the predispositional report also considers whether and how the juvenile’s parent, guardian or custodian should participate in the recommended program. The parent, guardian or custodian’s income will be investigated to determine whether and to what extent the juvenile’s parent, guardian or custodian is able to pay for any services provided to the juvenile. The juvenile’s parent, guardian or custodian must provide the Court with a completed child support worksheet form. The prosecutor, a probation officer, a representative from the Department of Correction, a court appointed guardian ad litem, or court appointed special advocate can file a petition with the Court requesting court ordered parental participation. The petition can request that the juvenile’s parent, guardian or custodian be ordered to do any or all of the following:

  • get help in fulfilling parental obligations; or
  • provide specific care, treatment or supervision for the juvenile; or
  • work with a person providing care, treatment or rehabilitation for the juvenile; or
  • not contact the juvenile, either directly or through someone else.

A hearing on a Parent Participation Plan may be held at the same time as the dispositional hearing or any later hearing to change the dispositional order of the Court. Prior to the initial hearing, the Court will advise the juvenile’s parent, guardian or custodian that failure to participate as ordered can lead to the termination of the parent-child relationship, including possible adoption of the juvenile without the consent of the parent, guardian or custodian. Willful refusal to pay for services as ordered can result in a judgment being entered against the juvenile’s parent, guardian or custodian for the amount owed. Some of the parent, guardian or custodian’s wages could then be taken, or garnished, to pay the debt.