Juvenile Court Advocate

 A Guide for Victims

The Huron County Prosecutor’s Victim Assistance program was established to inform victims of crime of their rights. It provides quality supportive services, information, and court appearance accompaniment to those who have been affected by criminal acts.

SERVICES OFFERED:

·        Information and referrals to community services

·        Court accompaniment and notification

·        Notification to the court of restitution issues

·        Assistance in filing a Victim of Crime Compensation application

·        Assistance in preparing to testify in court

·        Referral to support groups and counseling

·        Victims of federal crimes will be served.

 

JUVENILE COURT PROCEDURES

 

Charges

Police send complaints about reported juvenile crimes to the juvenile court prosecutor who decides if there is enough evidence to file charges. The decision to file charges is based on numerous factors, which include the severity of the crime, the evidence gathered, and the age, ability and/or willingness of the witnesses to testify.

 

Informal hearing

Some minor crimes by first-time juvenile offenders are heard at “informal” hearings before a judge or magistrate. The results of informal hearings may stay secret.

 

First hearing

Generally, the alleged juvenile offender, his parents, lawyer, court staff, the victim advocate, and a probation officer attend the first hearing. At the first hearing, the juvenile admits or denies the charge.

 

If the juvenile admits to the charge, the Judge can immediately proceed to punishment of the offender. If the court needs further information, or if there are multiple offenders, the court may also delay the disposition of the case.

 

If the juvenile enters a denial to the charge, an attorney may be appointed or retained and a date is set for the adjudicatory hearing. Cases involving juveniles almost 18, and/or facing serious crimes, may be bound over to the Common Pleas Court which handle adult felony cases.

 

The court tells juveniles about possible punishments like probation; house arrest that may use electronic monitoring; writing letter of apology; paying fines, court costs, and /or restitution.

 

The court may also order community service, counseling, or other community programming. A juvenile’s home placement can also be considered and potentially changed to a foster home, another relative, or a group home.

 

Juveniles facing serious charges may be housed in a detention facility outside Huron County to protect the public and/or assure their appearance in court.

 

Juvenile felons can be sent to a “juvenile jail” at the Department of Youth Services (DYS). There they could be locked up until they become 21.

 

Fines given to juveniles can be as low as $5 or the maximum $2,000 for each charge. Court costs locally average $50-$60 per charge. Juveniles may get low fines to prompt their paying restitution which helps victims. Parents of juveniles can be held in contempt of court if fines are not paid.

 

It’s important that victims quickly send in estimates with documents to establish any out-of-pocket losses so the court can order restitution to be paid as part of disposition.

 

Pre-trials

At one or more pre-trials, the judge may consider motions, order tests on defendants, plus review or change placement.

Final hearing

An adjudicatory hearing is similar to a trial in which witnesses are subpoenaed to provide testimony to the court. Their testimony helps a judge determine guilt. Serious Youthful Offenders can request a jury trial. Defendants may or may not testify. Reporters may attend but agree not to print the names of juveniles or victims.

 

Dispositional hearing

All victims may send Victim Impact Statements. Advocates must ask for them in felony cases as the court orders a pre-sentence investigation by a probation officer. Victims may also speak in person or have a victim advocate read statements at court hearings right before sentencing. The court carefully considers the words, bearing, and manner of victims.

 

Juvenile courts focus on rehabilitation. Juveniles often get lesser punishments for equal crimes than adults do. Punishments seen as “light” may disappoint victims. Juveniles are seldom jailed for property offenses.

 

Violating court rules can increase punish-ments. A Violation of Probation hearing will determine what penalties can be imposed. A review is often set after six months.

 

If a youth is sent away to DYS, input from the victim(s) can affect whether or not the juvenile is released. Victims may submit statements and/or attend hearings. Hearings are usually scheduled 45 days before the anticipated release date. Contact the Ohio Office of Victim Services at : 1-800-872-3132 or email them at : victimservices@dys.state.oh.us.

 

Tips for Victims, Witnesses, and Police Officers:

 

Meet with the prosecutor if children are to testify. Parents and young witnesses may need to prepare to testify well. Witnesses may want to visit the courtroom before testifying to learn its layout. Parents may be in court when their child testifies, but may not speak or signal to their child during testimony.

 

Call Victim Assistance and/or the Juvenile Court the day before your hearing. Times and dates can change after subpoenas go out. If you move, tell both the court and Victim Assistance you new address, and phone number.

 

Bring your subpoena with you. Sign in at the Juvenile Court at least 15 minutes before the hearing. It’s Room 101, located just past courthouse security. Be patient. Hearings may start late. Use the wait to meet with the prosecutor or victim advocate.

 

Anyone wishing to attend the hearing should be on time. Once the court calls the case, the courtroom doors stay closed until the case is over.

 

Dress somewhat formally to show respect to the court. Do not chew gum.

 

Stand as the judge/magistrate enters the courtroom.

 

Parking along Main Street is free for two hours only. However, spaces are often scarce. Parking is available on the corner of Main and Case Street, West Seminary Street be hind Berry’s Restaurant, and the corner of East Seminary Street and Prospect/Foster Streets.

 

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