Most Kentucky Juvenile prosecutions begin with a preliminary inquiry performed by a Court Designated Worker who assesses the case and informs the child and his or her parent or guardian whether the juvenile is eligible for any diversion programs. At the request of the county attorney or the child, however, the juvenile case may be referred directly to juvenile court.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER MY CHILD IS ARRESTED FOR A JUVENILE CRIME?
Any child detained by the county has a right to a confidential juvenile detention hearing within twenty-four (24) hours, exclusive of weekends and holidays, if accused of a status offense, or within forty-eight (48) hours, exclusive of weekends and holidays, if accused of a public offense. KRS 610.265. The purpose of the detention hearing is for the court to determine whether the child should be further detained. Some of the factors that the court should consider are the nature of the offense, the child’s background and history, and other information relevant to the child’s conduct or condition.
After the court determines whether the child should be detained, confidential juvenile court proceedings begin. The juvenile, like any other criminally accused person, will have the right to certain stages of criminal procedure.
If the child makes an admission of guilt on the record, the case will be scheduled for a disposition hearing, which is similar to an adult sentencing hearing. If the juvenile denies the offense, the case will be scheduled for an adjudication hearing, which is similar to a court trial in front of a judge (there is no jury unlike a trial in other criminal cases). At the adjudication hearing, the juvenile may be found not guilty or adjudged delinquent. Should the court make a finding of delinquency, the case will then be scheduled for the aforementioned disposition hearing.
CAN MY JUVENILE CHILD BE TRIED AS AN ADULT?
The short answer is, “It depends.”
Depending on the type of offense committed and the child’s age, the County Attorney may file a motion to transfer the juvenile case to adult court. Should this occur, the child has a right to a confidential transfer hearing in order for the court to determine whether the child meets the criteria to be tried as an adult or a “youthful offender.” KRS 635.020.
If the juvenile is proceeded against as a youthful offender, the same consequences that would apply to an adult would apply to the juvenile. Additionally, the juvenile’s case will proceed in public in the Circuit Court.
DOES MY CHILD NEED AN ATTORNEY FOR A JUVENILE CASE?
The attendance of parents and representation by counsel are crucial at every stage of juvenile proceedings, especially detention hearings, transfer hearings and disposition hearings. Juvenile defendants in the Commonwealth of Kentucky are automatically appointed a public defender, but that attorney may be responsible for all of the juvenile cases in a particular county. If your child is facing criminal charges, you should contact an experienced juvenile criminal defense attorney who has the resources to give your child’s case the time and attention it deserves.
Our attorneys have appeared as counsel in many juvenile cases in Kentucky, including cases where the juvenile was charged as an adult, or “youthful offender.”