Families in Need of Service / Juvenile Delinquency


Delinquency cases begin when a juvenile is charged with having committed a delinquent act that would be considered a criminal offense if they were an adult. If the juvenile is arrested (detained), a detention hearing will be held. If the judge determines there is enough evidence to believe the child was involved in the crime, the child will remain detained and the judge will set a bond. If the district attorney’s office decides to file a petition, the child will then have an appearance hearing (arraignment). At this hearing, the judge will read the formal charges against the child and advise the child of all rights, including the right to have an attorney to represent them. If the judge decides the child’s family cannot afford to hire an attorney, the judge will appoint an attorney to represent the child. 

The defendant will either admit or deny the allegations against them. If the child denies the allegations, an adjudication hearing (trial) will be set. At the adjudication hearing, the district attorney’s office must try to prove the child committed the acts he or she is accused of committing. If the Judge determines the child did commit these acts, then another hearing, called a disposition hearing (sentencing), will be set. The Judge will decide at disposition what kind of placement, treatment, supervision, and/or rehabilitation the child needs — such as community service, restitution, and/or probation. The court has jurisdiction over these cases until the minor child reaches the age of 21. 

Families in Need of Services (FINS)

FINS are cases that begin in a few different ways. Most FINS cases involve court supervision of a juvenile who has been truant (not attending school), ungovernable, or has run away from home. FINS cases also include cases where the parent or caretaker of the child has caused the child's misconduct, or has failed to send the child to school. Although these cases follow a similar process as the delinquency cases described, they are not criminal cases.