In the juvenile justices system, the court deals with many different matters – all of which are cases involving children (i.e., persons under the age of eighteen). These matters are put into different categories. One of these categories is juvenile delinquency.
In a juvenile delinquency case in the state of Minnesota, the child is alleged to have committed a violation of one or more of the state’s criminal laws. The alleged infraction can be for a violation of a local city ordinance or a Minnesota state statute. Thus, an alleged violation could range from something as relatively minor as staying out past curfew or up to the most serious of charges like murder. Delinquency matters include any allegations by the government (1) that a person has committed any offense(s) classified as Felony, Gross Misdemeanor, Misdemeanor, and/or Petty Misdemeanor and (2) that the person who is alleged to have committed the offense(s) was in fact less than eighteen years of age at the time of the alleged offense.
The focus of the juvenile justice court proceedings is largely to provide juveniles with supervision and services that can be used for the child’s benefit in order to return the child to law-abiding behavior.
Generally after police investigations, the State will file with District Court a Petition or Citation with the alleged charge. The child and the child’s parent will be notified by U.S. Mail to appear in court.
(NOTE: This is the point where parent(s) should take steps to contact, meet with, and hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent the juvenile. This is important not only because of the immediate consequences the juvenile faces, but also because of the legal ramifications that may result at a later time for the juvenile.)
Next, if the charge is proven, the court may make a finding of delinquent and the child may be adjudicated delinquent.
Also, juvenile criminal matters may include Extended Jurisdiction Juvenile (EJJ) where the child may have a stayed adult sentence until the child’s 21st Birthday, and the child is placed on extended probation.
(See also Minnesota Rules of Court (Rule 19) and M.S. 260B.130).
In some cases, juvenile court can certify a child to stand trial as an adult. Adult certification procedures are initiated by motion of the prosecuting attorney after a delinquency petition has been filed. Juveniles must be at least fourteen (14) years old to seventeen (17) years old and the alleged offender must meet certain criteria in order for the motion for adult certification to be filed. If a child is certified as an adult, juvenile court’s jurisdiction terminates and the matter is transferred to adult court. (See Minnesota Rules of Court Rule 18 and M.S. 260B.125.)
Lastly, in general all juvenile cases in the State of Minnesota are considered confidential. Nonetheless, the petition, probable cause statement, and hearing in felony matters are public record if the juvenile was at least sixteen (16) at the time the alleged offense was committed. Given this, most juvenile court delinquency matters are not open to the public with the exception of the more serious crimes being committed by juveniles who are almost an adult. Concerning juvenile court case records, most of such records are still closed to the public at large, but one can still generally get permission from the presiding judge (which is required) in order to view or obtain copies of a juvenile court record or file.