Juvenile Court Process
(Adapted from information provided by the Marion County Juvenile Department)
Mission of Juvenile ProbationThe mission of probation is to assist in protecting the community from delinquency by establishing accountability for offenses, and utilizing department and community resources to offer opportunities to meet the needs of youth and their families.
The ProcessWhen juveniles commit crimes and cause injury, or loss to victims, there are several steps that must occur before the case can be resolved, and the victim can receive restitution.
Referrals:Criminal activity must be referred to Marion County Juvenile Department by a law enforcement agency.
Initial Intervention:Police reports are reviewed to determine the level of intervention, which includes diversion programs (community service, Neighbor to Neighbor mediation, counseling classes), assignment to a probation officer or closure if the district attorney’s office determines that guilt cannot be proven in court.
Probation Officer Assignment:If the case is assigned to a probation officer, an interview is scheduled with the youth and parents, or guardians. The probation officer considers several factors in determining how to handle the case, including amount of restitution, public safety issues, seriousness of the incident, and services the youth and family need to prevent further criminal behavior. At the interview, the youth informs the probation officer whether he/she will admit, deny, or talk to an attorney on the charges.
In Step III, victims are sent a Restitution Form and Victim Impact Statement. If the victim wishes to be involved in the process, the Restitution Form and the Victim Impact Statement need to be completed and returned promptly to the probation officer.
Youth Admits:If the youth admits the criminal activity, two things can happen:
1) The youth may sign a contract called a Formal Accountability Agreement, which requires the youth to complete specific conditions, including restitution payment to the victim. This does not involve a court appearance by the youth or the victim. Most contracts last from 90-120 days. OR
2) The youth goes to court for a preliminary hearing, admits to the criminal charges, and is placed on probation. The Judge orders probation conditions, including payment of restitution and no contact with the victim. Victims will be notified and may appear at this hearing. Juvenile probation can last from six months to five years, or until age 23, depending on the youth’s risk to self, family and community.
If victims have concerns about personal safety at any time, before or after resolution of the case, victims need to notify the police or the probation officer immediately.
Youth Denies:If the youth denies the criminal activity, the youth can request an attorney, and the matter will be set for a court hearing. At this point, the juvenile court process can become lengthy. If the victim wants to be involved with the court process, it is important for the victim to maintain contact with the probation officer. There may be a series of court hearings before final resolution of the matter. Any time victims come to court hearings they need to check in at the front reception desk.
Victim Impact StatementWritten information from the victim or victim’s parents can be submitted to the probation officer, and it will be considered in determining probation conditions. Written information from the victim may also be shared by the probation officer with the youth to help create empathy for the victim in an effort to prevent further criminal activity. If the case goes to court, the victim has an opportunity to make a verbal or written statement in court to the Judge. Prior to the hearing, the probation officer needs to know that the victim would like to make a statement in court.
RestitutionThe court can order restitution for physical injury, counseling, and for property taken, damaged or destroyed by juvenile offenders.
When Restitution is Ordered:As the youth earns the restitution, it will be sent to the State of Oregon and the state will disburse the money to the victim. For payment to reach the victim, it is important that the victim provide the probation officer with any change in address. Usually the youth’s probation term will not be closed until all restitution is paid, or until five years have elapsed. At that time a civil judgment against the youth may be ordered if there is any unpaid restitution.