The Intake Probation Counselor is in charge of supervising pre-disposition cases, meaning they work with the youth while their case is pending in court. They work with the youth, families and attorney's and discuss recommendations for sentencing, and initial risk assessment, and address any immediate concerns. While the case is pending in court the youth is NOT on probation, however, the Intake Probation Counselor can supervise whether the youth is complying with their bond conditions set by a Judge. Below is a flowchart that explains the juvenile court process as well as definitions to help youth and families understand court hearings and options.
- Arrest - To arrest a juvenile, the police must have probable cause to believe the juvenile has committed an offense or have a valid arrest warrant. A juvenile can be arrested and not detained, meaning they can arrest and the juvenile will later receive a notice and summons for court instead of being directly brought to the detention center.
- Prosecutor's Decision - After a juvenile arrest, the police file a report with the Prosecuting Attorney's Office. The Prosecuting Attorney is a lawyer who works for the County and represents the community. The Prosecuting Attorney screens the report for legal sufficiency and decides if the offense can be charged in court. If the case is legally sufficient and the Prosecuting Attorney determines that charges should be filed, they may "divert" the case, or file an information with the juvenile court.
- Diversion - If the prosecutor diverts the case, the juvenile does not go to court. Instead, the juvenile meets with a Probation Counselor who will discuss the offense with the juvenile and decide on a reasonable consequence. That consequence is then incorporated into a Diversion contract. A diversion contract may include any of the following: volunteer (unpaid) work; counseling; paying a fine; and paying "restitution." Restitution is money paid to the victim for damages they suffered as a result of an offense. It can also be the cost of paying for doctor bills if the juvenile hurt a person.The juvenile must agree to the decision of the worker or board by signing the diversion agreement.
- Information Filing - An information is a legal document, filed with the court, that names the juvenile and describes the alleged offense or charge.
- Detention Hearing - If a youth is booked into the juvenile detention center, a detention hearing will be held on the next judicial day. This usually occurs within twenty-four hours with the exception of holidays and weekends. At this hearing, a Judge decides if continued detention is necessary. If released, the Judge may set special release conditions called a Bond. These Bond conditions may include house arrest or maintaining attendance at school or work. Restrictions from associating with alleged co-defendants or victims may also be included.
- Bond: There are two types of Bonds that the Judge can set; signature and secured. With a signature bond a parent signs the bond to have their child released and agrees to report if their child breaks those bond conditions. If the child breaks the bond conditions, the parent must fill out a bond revocation form. Failure to report any noncompliance with bond conditions could result in parents owing the amount listed on the signature bond. With a secured bond, the parent must pay the full amount listed on the bond or consult with a bail bond company.
- First Appearance: The initial court hearing to appointment an attorney if youth cannot afford one or have retained attorney representation. Arraignment hearing will be set.
- Arraignment Hearing - The juvenile is advised of his or her rights and asked to either enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. If the juvenile pleads guilty, they are admitting that they committed the offense for which they are charged. The court will then sentence the juvenile to an appropriate sentence, either at that time, or later, if the court feels it needs further information. If the juvenile pleads not guilty, the Judge will set a future date for a fact finding hearing.
- Decline of Jurisdiction or Decline Hearing - By statute, some offenses require a juvenile to automatically be remanded to adult court. After a hearing, based on a juvenile's age, criminal history and the seriousness of the alleged crime, other juveniles may also be sent to adult court.
- Fact-Finding Hearing - A fact-finding hearing or trial is held to allow the Prosecuting Attorney an opportunity to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the juvenile in question committed the alleged offense. The juvenile is generally represented by a lawyer, who attempts to present the juvenile's side of the case. The Judge then decides if the case has been proven or not. If the Judge decides that the Prosecuting Attorney has not proven the case, the juvenile is found not guilty. If the Judge decides that the case has been proven, the youth will subsequently be sentenced to appropriate consequences.
- Disposition Hearing - This is a sentencing hearing. The Judge determines the appropriate consequences for the offense and enters this information on a Disposition Order. This order may include detention time, a period of time on community supervision (probation), community service, monetary fines and assessments and/or restitution. Other case specific conditions may also be included. In some cases, a disposition order may include state juvenile institution time.
If you have any questions about the Intake Process, please contact our office at 360-577-3100 or JuvPO@cowlitzwa.gov.