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Often times, we see juvenile probation violations for the simple reason that a parent didn’t know the in’s and outs of the terms of the probation, the cost or time constraints didn’t allow them to help their youth complete the probation, or they simply didn’t want to.  If you have a child facing juvenile charges and is looking like he or she is going to be put on probation, being knowledgeable about the process can save you some headaches.

Over the next couple of weeks, I will go over the probation process, some of the common conditions of probation (rules the youth has to follow), how those conditions are easily violated, and what the consequences for violating might be.  This particular post, I will discuss the initial stages of probation for a juvenile.

First, juvenile charges are not called crimes.  In order to help alleviate stigma associated with the criminal justice system, juvenile “crimes” are handled under the Juvenile Delinquency system.  Instead of guilty and not guilty – there is delinquent and not delinquent.  The entire juvenile system has a primary purpose of rehabilitation of the youth.  This includes connecting the youth and family with the community resources necessary to help the youth and family stay on track.   Punishment, does have a place in the juvenile system though.  You can discuss all the details with your attorney.

If placed on probation, your youth will have to adhere to a number of conditions of probation.  At what is called the disposition hearing (in the adult world known as a sentencing hearing,) you and your youth will likely hear the terms of probation read to you by the judge, the state attorney, or the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) representative.  Additionally, you and your child will have to meet with a DJJ representative where you will be assigned a probation officer, read and sign each condition of probation to acknowledge you understand each term, and likely report monthly to the office to check in with probation.

If your youth doesn’t drive, you will likely be on the hook to get them there.  While going through this process, if you do not understand something, feel free to ask questions; encourage your youth to do the same.  If you do not, you and your youth may misunderstand a term and that could later cause a violation.  For example, not everything counts as community service.  If you do not ask the probation officer, you may drag your youth to a community service event, he or she completes the hours, and then they do not count for one reason or another.  Also, you may need to bring paperwork with you to complete community service.  You can get all of that information with your probation officer.

The probation officer you meet with is usually your youth’s assigned officer.  This person may make random stops at your house, the youth’s school, or require you to come in or contact them if an issue comes up.  They are your main contact.  If you find yourself with a youth who is not cooperating, YOU also can report violations.  Reporting your own child for a violation is difficult, but that may be what they need.   There may be additional community resources that your probation officer can direct you to help your youth and the family.

Remember, although your youth is the one on probation, you may be required to attend each session, you may be asked questions by the officers, and you may have to go the extra mile to help your youth.  It can be a difficult time period for families, so staying informed and setting manageable expectations always helps. If scheduling is difficult, talk to the probation officer and see what you can work out.  Communication is key.

If you have any questions, or would like some more information, contact The Law Office of Diana S. Miers, PA today at admin@dianamierslaw.com or (407) 603 – 6538.