Juvenile Delinquency

Giulitto Law Office has experienced attorneys handling juvenile delinquency cases in Portage County, Ohio and surrounding areas.  Call us today if your child is facing charges.

When a child is charged with a crime, the case proceeds through the court through delinquency proceedings.  There are some similarities between delinquency and adult criminal proceedings, but there are also great differences.

First off, a juvenile can be tried as an adult (and therefore subject to adult penalties- except the death penalty).  The link below provides a very good resource on how this determination is made.


Second, there are certain rules for a category of juveniles called serious youthful offenders.  The key to this category of offenders is that the punishment is “blended” between traditional juvenile sentences and adult sentences.  The link below provides a very good resource on how this category of offenders are dealt with by the juvenile court.


If these two situations are not applicable, the case will proceed in the juvenile as described as follows.  The child is charged by a complaint which will list a crime that the juvenile would be charged with if he/she were an adult.  The juvenile is alleged to be delinquent.  The key is to determine if the juvenile is charged with a crime that would be a felony if committed by an adult or a misdemeanor if committed by an adult.  This distinction is key because the potential penalties are much different.

If the juvenile is charged with a crime that would be a felony if committed by an adult the child could be put in the Department of Youth Services (essentially, a prison for children).  If the child is charged with a crime that would be a misdemeanor if committed by an adult, the child can be placed in local detention for up to ninety days.

Of course the child must be found delinquent for that to happen.  Children charged with being delinquent enjoy many constitutional rights that adults do, such as the right to cross examine witnesses, the right to confront witness, the right against self incrimination and the right to Miranda warnings before a custodial interrogation.  Generally, the child does not have a right to a trial by jury.  Rather, most juvenile delinquency cases will be tried before a judge or magistrate.

The juvenile has a right to a hearing on the charges.  This stage of the case is called an adjudicatory hearing.  This is the child’s trial where the child can either admit the charges or make the state prove the child committed the offense.  The burden of proof is on the state to show the child committed the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.  If evidence is presented, the judge or magistrate will typically decide whether the state has met their burden.  If the state proves the case, the case moves on to the disposition stage.  If the state does not, it is just like being found not guilty.

If the child is found delinquent, a disposition hearing is held.  This is where punishment is decided.  For delinquent children found to commit felonies, the most drastic sanction is to be sent to the Department of Youth Services.  For delinquent children found to commit misdemeanors, the most drastic punishment is to be sent to a local detention facility for up to ninety days.  Those are the most drastic sanctions.  However, the court has many other options to chose from.  The child can be sent to a treatment center, can be placed on probation, placed into foster care, be made to do community service or combination of sanctions (there are other alternatives as well).  The court has many options because the law recognizes a distinction between juvenile and adult offenders.  Juveniles are different in many ways from adults.  The law recognizes this and gives the court many tools to balance a sanction that punishes the offender and rehabilitates the offender.

Juvenile Delinquency law is very complex.  This section is just a primer on the basics.  If your child is charged with a crime, it is essential to contact an attorney.  If you cannot afford one, the juvenile has a right to appointed counsel in most cases.

Call or Schedule an Online FREE CONSULTATION appointment with Mr. denHeijer today on your Juvenile Delinquency issues, so that your child is represented fairly.