Are Juvenile Court Hearings Open To The Public In Raleigh?
Going to juvenile court with your son or daughter can be a daunting experience by itself. But how many other people will know or find out about it?
Are These Hearings Open To The Public?
The short answer: in most cases, yes, they are.
- If the case has extenuating circumstances, a judge may decide to close the courtroom to protect the juvenile. For instance, if there case contains sensitive information about the accused, the family, or any victims from disclosure of the information, the judge can keep the information from becoming public by closing it off.
- Excluding public attendance still allows victims, their family members, law enforcement, witnesses and anyone else directly involved in the case to remain in court.
- Records from juvenile court proceedings, however, are not available for public disclosure without a court order. This is to protect the privacy of the children involved in the proceedings. Only involved individuals can access these records, including:
- The juvenile
- The juvenile’s parent and/or guardian
- The juvenile’s attorney
- Probation officers
- Juvenile court counselors
Attending Juvenile Court
For anyone under the age of 18 who is accused of certain types of offenses, there are two court systems available.
The first is the criminal court system for adults, which, for juveniles, is when they commit felonies including (but not limited to) drug charges, weapons possession, assault or other form of bodily harm. This system will involve going to criminal court, standing trial, and if convicted, potential jail time or other sanctions.
Juvenile court is a slightly different approach for wrongdoers under the age of 18. While the point of criminal court is justice and incarceration, juvenile court is more focused on rehabilitation, and giving the child a chance to become an adult without a criminal record.
The next steps will depend on a few things:
- Whether the child is considered “delinquent” or “undisciplined”
- Whether the child is in secure or non-secure custody
- Whether the child is charged with a misdemeanor or a felony
The next step is an adjudicatory hearing, the equivalent of a jury trial for adults. The State holds the burden of proof to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the delinquent juvenile has committed the offense he or she is accused of. For an undisciplined juvenile, clear and convincing evidence must be presented to prove the case.
A disposition hearing follows, similar to a sentencing hearing for an adult. However, because this is a juvenile court, a disposition isn’t a “sentencing,” but an individual court-ordered plan for rehabilitation. It is also designed to hold the juvenile accountable for his or her actions, and not to just dismiss them because of their age.
A judge has a range of choices when it comes to administering punishment and rehabilitation. These can include:
- Restitution to victims
- Community Service
- Supervised Probation
- Evaluation and Treatment
- Incarceration (confinement in either a youth development center or detention center)
Your Child’s Best Defense In Court
As a former Wake County prosecutor, Dewey P. Brinkley is now an experienced criminal defense attorney who can guide you and your child through the court process. He can defend your child against charges, fight wrongful charges and work for a more reasonable sentence if convicted. Call the law offices of Dewey P. Brinkley today (or use the online contact form) to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your child’s case at (919) 832-0307.