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Understanding Juvenile Court

There are many differences between the prosecution of juveniles for crimes and prosecuting adults for the same offenses.

Sentences for juveniles may include the following: home detention, juvenile hall, youth camp, or a state Youth Authority. In most states, the Youth Authority may keep a juvenile until the age of 25. Once this age is reached, the person may then be transferred to State Prison.

Fitness Hearings may be sought by the prosecutor in an attempt to send the juvenile to adult court. At a fitness hearing there is evidence and testimony concerning whether the minor is a fit and proper subject to be tried in juvenile court. If the minor is found to be fit, proceedings against the minor continue in the juvenile court. If the minor is found to be unfit, the juvenile court petition is dismissed, and the prosecuting attorney is authorized to prosecute the minor under adult criminal law.

Juvenile Records are confidential and privileged (except for probation officers, law enforcement, court personnel, the minor, and for the parents of the minor.)

Records may be sealed five years or more after juvenile court jurisdiction has ended, or after a person has reached 18 years of age, whichever occurs first.

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