petition | Definition

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

A petition is “A document filed in juvenile court alleging that a juvenile is a delinquent and asking that the court assume jurisdiction over the juvenile or asking that an alleged delinquent be waived to criminal court for prosecution as an adult.”

Source: OJJDP

A petition is a legal document that is filed in juvenile court to initiate a case involving a juvenile who is alleged to have committed a delinquent act. The purpose of the petition is to ask the court to assume jurisdiction over the juvenile or to transfer the case to criminal court for prosecution as an adult.

Filing the Petition

A prosecutor or probation officer typically files the petition, and must be supported by evidence and information about the alleged delinquent act. The petition must also provide information about the juvenile, including their age, name, and address.

In some cases, the petition may also include a request for the court to take certain actions, such as ordering the juvenile to participate in a treatment program or placing the juvenile in a detention facility.

The filing of a petition is the first step in the juvenile justice process, and it is an important document that sets the stage for the entire case. The petition must comply with all legal requirements and must be properly served on the juvenile and their parents or legal guardians.

After the Petition is Filed

Once the petition is filed, the court will schedule an initial hearing, known as the adjudicatory hearing. At this hearing, the juvenile and their attorney will have the opportunity to respond to the allegations in the petition and to present evidence and arguments in their defense.

The Court’s Disposition

If the court finds that the allegations in the petition are true, it will enter a finding of delinquency and may impose a range of dispositions, including probation, community service, or placement in a juvenile detention facility. If the court determines that the case should be transferred to criminal court, the juvenile may face trial as an adult and may be subject to more severe penalties.

It is important to note that the juvenile justice system is designed to be different from the adult criminal justice system, with a focus on rehabilitation and treatment rather than punishment. The filing of a petition is the first step in this process and sets the stage for the court’s determination of the best course of action for the juvenile.

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Last Modified: 07/13/2023

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