Juvenile Process

WHAT IS JUVENILE DELINQUENCY?Orange County Juvenile Arrests

When a minor is accused of breaking the law, they will have to go through a process in juvenile court called Juvenile Delinquency proceedings. The court will consider certain factors such as the minor’s age, whether the minor has a criminal record and how serious the crime is.


Once a minor is arrested several things can happen. The police can choose to make a record of the arrest and then release the minor back to his or her parents or guardian or send the minor to an agency that will care for the minor. The police can also choose to give the minor a Notice to Appear to meet with a probation officer, or they may detain the minor in some cases.

Once the minor meets with a probation officer, the probation officer may in some instances take no action and release the minor or allow the minor to enroll in and complete a voluntary program such as community service to avoid going to court. The probation officer may also elect to release the minor but recommend the case to the Orange County District Attorney who will determine if a case (petition) will be filed or the minor can be taken into custody while the recommendation is sent to the District Attorney.


Juvenile proceedings are considered civil in nature, however the consequences are more consistent with those of crimes. Juvenile court places emphasis on rehabilitation while adult court places emphasis on the punitive aspect in addition to rehabilitation. Minors receive many of the same constitutional protections as adults. Unless there is a contested issue of fact or law, juvenile proceedings are conducted in an informal, nonadversarial atmosphere. Juvenile proceedings are generally confidential and are closed to the public unless otherwise requested by the minor and the minor’s parents.

Some other differences can be found in the terminology used in juvenile court and adult court. Some examples are:

  • Bail Hearings in adult court are called Detention Hearings in juvenile court
  • Juvenile offenders do not commit crimes, they commit delinquent acts
  • a Complaint in adult court is called a Petition in juvenile court
  • a Defendant is the equivalent to a Respondent in juvenile court
  • in adult court they hold trials and jury trials where as in juvenile court they hold Adjudication Hearings where the judge holds the hearing and decides on the ruling
  • A juvenile cannot be convicted of a crime in juvenile court. Instead the Petition is deemed Sustained. This means that if a minor with a juvenile record is ever asked whether they have been convicted of a crime they can truthfully answer they have not

In some cases where the offense is a very serious felony such as murder, attempted murder, rape, robbery, gang crimes, and others, a minor can be charged as an adult and the case can filed in adult court.