Juvenile Law

In juvenile court the minor admits or denies the charges. An admission is the equivalent of a guilty plea in adult court. A denial is the equivalent of a not guilty plea in adult court. You may also enter a no contest plea with the consent of the court. A no contest plea differs from a plea of admission in that a no contest plea is not an admission of guilt and may not be used against you in a later civil proceeding where a plea of admission is an admission of guilt and can be used against you in a later civil proceeding. If you enter a plea of denial, the matter will be set for a pretrial and a subsequent adjudicatory proceeding if it is not resolved at the pretrial. An adjudicatory proceeding in juvenile court is the equivalent of a trial in adult court. If you enter a plea of admission you will proceed to disposition. Disposition in juvenile court is the equivalent of sentencing in adult court.

There are several types of proceedings in juvenile court. An unruly proceeding is generally a status type offense. A status offense is an offense that can only be committed by a juvenile. Some examples would be failing to follow house rules, running away, staying out after curfew or possession/use of tobacco. The other type of offense in juvenile court is delinquency. A delinquency charge is filed when a juvenile commits an offense that would be a criminal offense if committed by an adult. Some examples would be theft, assault, domestic violence, etc. A juvenile may also expunge their offense(s) like an adult. He or she may file to expunge their record or their record will generally expunge on its own five (5) years after he or she attains the age of majority, i.e., on their 23rd birthday. Any delinquency offense except aggravated murder, murder or rape may be expunged in juvenile court.

A juvenile may also be charged with a traffic offense. A juvenile may admit, deny or plead no contest to a traffic offense. The penalties for juvenile traffic offenses are largely administrative. A second moving violation as a juvenile is a mandatory ninety (90) days license suspension and a third offense is a mandatory one (1) year license suspension. These suspensions are imposed by the BMV and are administrative. Further, a juvenile twenty miles over the speed limit generally has their license suspended for 30 days. A juvenile thirty (30) or more miles over the speed limit generally has their license suspended for sixty (60) days. It is possible to get limited driving privileges to and from work, to and from school and any school related functions by the most direct route, i.e., no frolic and detour. Finally, a juvenile may receive what is referred to as a parent/guardian restriction. A parent/guardian restriction is imposed by the bureau of motor vehicles when a minor has a moving violation within six (6) months of obtaining their driver’s license. A parent/guardian restriction lasts for six (6) months or until the juvenile’s 17th birthday, whichever is shorter. During a parent/guardian restriction a juvenile reverts back to permit status and may only drive while accompanied by a licensed parent or guardian. A juvenile with limited driving privileges may drive without a parent or guardian so long as he or she is driving to and from work, school or any school related functions.

In the Columbiana County Juvenile Court a juvenile charged with a first offense moving violation may go to diversion. Diversion consists of a first offender class put on by AAA at the Ohio State Highway Patrol barracks on State Route 45. The cost of the class is $39.00 and the juvenile is required to be accompanied by a parent or guardian for the three (3) hour class. However, if the juvenile completes the class and pays standard court costs of $100.00, the citation will be dismissed and will not count for purposes of ratcheting up a second or subsequent offense. In other words, the juvenile’s next offense will be treated as a first offense. To qualify for diversion, the juvenile must not have been twenty (20) or more miles over the speed limit, involved in an accident or charged with a serious offense such as DUI.

Another common case in juvenile court is the abuse, neglect or dependency case. An abuse, neglect or dependency case is generally filed by the prosecutor and involves children’s services. In said type of case, if the children are removed by ex-parte order, there is a probable cause hearing within 24 hours and no more than 72 hours after the children are removed. An adjudicatory hearing will then be scheduled in no more than thirty (30) days. At the adjudicatory hearing, the court will determine if the children are abused, neglected or dependent. Said determination is subject to a clear and convincing evidence standard. If the court adjudicates the children there will be a disposition hearing held no more than thirty (30) days after the adjudicatory hearing. Typically, at the dispositional hearing, the court will adopt the case plan filed by children’s services. The case plan generally contains recommended services for the parents to complete to correct the issue(s) which caused the children to be adjudicated abused, neglected or dependent. The parents have one (1) year to complete the case plan. The case will generally be reviewed every ninety (90) days to six (6) months for the life of the case. At each review the court looks at the parents progress on the case plan. If they do so, the children are generally returned. If they do not complete the plan, the court has the option to extend the case for one additional year to give the parents sufficient time to complete the plan. If the parents do not complete the plan in two (2) years, the court either has to return the children and close the case or grant permanent custody. Permanent custody is the equivalent of an adoption and terminates the parents’ parental rights. Permanent custody is granted to the department of jobs and family services. A motion for permanent custody may only be filed by the department of jobs and family services.