How the Juvenile Justice Court Process Works

The court process begins with the filing of a petition. A petition is a legal document that requests that a juvenile court judge declare a child to be a ward of the court because the child is delinquent, or requires authoritative intervention, or is addicted to drugs. Declaring a child to be a ward of the court means that juvenile court has authority or jurisdiction over a child in a similar way that a wise and fair parent has authority over his or her child. Once a petition is filed, a court hearing is held. Juvenile court hearings are formal procedures where a judge hears various aspects of the case presented by the parties so that an appropriate decision can be made by the judge.

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