What happens when you go to court?
There are four main types of Court Hearings
- Advisory (Detained or Released)
The Advisory Hearing is the first court hearing. At this hearing, the youth is advised of their rights in court and of the charges being brought against him/her (what they are accused of doing). If the youth were detained in one of the detention facilities after they were arrested, this hearing would take place within 24 hours. The youth can have an attorney appointed who will represent what the child wants in court.
The juvenile will either admit to the charges or deny them. If the youth says they are "not guilty" an Adjudication Hearing will be scheduled. At the end of each Court Hearing the Judge considers whether it is safe to return the youth to the community or if the youth needs to be detained until their next hearing.
- Adjudication or Change of Plea
An Adjudication Hearingdetermines if the youth is innocent or guilty of the charges. This is also known as a "Trial" in Adult Court. At an Adjudication Hearing, there is no Jury, the Judge decides the outcome of the case. A juvenile who is found guilty is said to be "adjudicated delinquent." Once adjudicated delinquent, a Disposition Hearing will be scheduled. If the youth is released into the community, the same conditions of release may apply. If the youth is found Not Guilty, the case is dismissed.
There are certain situations that may lead the County Attorney to believe that a juvenile requires a "motion for transfer." This means the juvenile's case could possibly be transferred to Adult Court and the Juvenile treated like an adult. If this occurs, a Transfer Hearing will be held. An example of what might cause the County Attorney to request a transfer hearing is if a juvenile has at least two other separately adjudicated felonies; another determination is for a severe crime such as an Aggravated Assault. The decision to transfer the case is made by a judge.
Another way that a juvenile may be transferred to Adult Court is through Direct File. This is a decision made by the County Attorney. Factors considered are the juvenile's age, the type of offense, the severity of the current offense, recidivism, and the amenability of the juvenile to the services provided. The Juvenile Court does not have any involvement in the direct file process. The offenses listed here, if committed by a juvenile 15 years old or older are automatically transferred to be heard in adult court.
SERIOUS OFFENSE (ARS 13-501)
- 15 Years and Older
- First or Second Degree Murder
- Forcible Sexual Assault
- Armed Robbery
- Any Other Violent Felony Offense
- Any Felony Offense Committed by a Chronic Felony Offender
- Any Offense that is Connected to an Offense Listed Above
A Disposition Hearing, also known as a "Sentencing Hearing" in Adult Court, is the hearing in which the court decides what the consequences will be for a juvenile who is adjudicated delinquent. These consequences can vary and range from community service hours, restitution, drug testing, summary probation, standard probation, intensive probation, or commitment to the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections. Some youth require intensive treatment and may be removed from the home and placed in a Residential Treatment Center for several months.
Going to Court?
Overview of Delinquency Proceedings in Arizona Superior Court written by Honorable Samuel A. Thumma