disposition hearing | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction

A disposition hearing is a phase of a juvenile delinquency proceeding when the judge decides what form of training and treatment will be in the best interest of the child.

This phase is analogous to the sentencing phase of an adult criminal trial.

A disposition hearing is a crucial part of the juvenile justice system. It is the stage where the judge makes decisions about what steps should be taken in the best interest of the child who is alleged to have committed a delinquent act. The ultimate goal of this hearing is to determine the most appropriate form of training and treatment that can help the child to become a productive member of society.

The disposition hearing is typically held after the adjudication hearing, where the judge finds the child delinquent. During the disposition hearing, the judge reviews the evidence presented during the adjudication hearing and any additional information that may have been gathered since then. This includes information from the probation officer, social workers, mental health professionals, and the child’s family.

The judge’s decision during the disposition hearing is based on a variety of factors, including the nature of the offense, the child’s age and previous record, the child’s mental and physical health, the child’s educational and social history, and any other relevant factors. The judge must also take into consideration the child’s rights and the principles of due process.

One of the most important decisions the judge makes during the disposition hearing is the type of rehabilitation program that the child should undergo. The goal of rehabilitation is to help the child address the underlying issues that may have contributed to the delinquent behavior and to develop the skills and tools necessary to make positive choices in the future.

There are several types of rehabilitation programs that the judge may consider. These may include community service, counseling, drug treatment, or educational programs. In some cases, the child may be placed in a residential treatment center or a juvenile detention facility. The judge’s decision will depend on the specific needs of the child and the resources available in the community.

The disposition hearing also determines the length of time that the child will be under the court’s jurisdiction. This can range from a few months to several years, depending on the nature and severity of the offense and the child’s progress in the rehabilitation program.

In addition to rehabilitation, the judge may also impose other conditions on the child, such as curfews, community service, or probation. The judge may also order restitution, where the child must pay back any damages or losses caused by their delinquent behavior.


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Last Modified: 04/15/2023


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