Published in Criminal Law by Chris Eskew on May 20, 2021.
Indiana lawmakers face a balancing act when it comes to juvenile offenses. On one hand, everyone recognizes that children are different from adults. On the other hand, there is a valid concern about keeping the community safe. Thus, unlike the adult criminal justice system, Indiana juvenile law focuses more on rehabilitation than punishment. However, that does not mean that juveniles who commit crimes necessarily get off easy. In fact, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Juveniles who are adjudicated delinquent face a wide range of restrictions that can make living a normal life extremely difficult—if not impossible. At Eskew Law, our dedicated team of juvenile criminal defense lawyers represents young adults charged with all types of crimes.
Indiana Juvenile Law
Indiana Code 31 contains the state’s laws pertaining to the juvenile justice system. Juvenile courts in Indiana have jurisdiction over both civil and criminal matters. However, specific to criminal law, juvenile courts have jurisdiction over most cases involving allegations of acts that would be a crime if committed by an adult. Certain offenses must remain in the juvenile system, these include DUI offenses and misdemeanor traffic citations.
Indiana judges and prosecutors can transfer a case to adult court in certain situations. Typically, this involves allegations that involve “heinous or aggravated acts.” Once the court transfers a juvenile to the adult system, they will be tried as an adult.
Procedure Related to Indiana Juvenile Cases
Once an officer arrests a juvenile, they take the juvenile to the local juvenile detention facility. They also notify the juvenile’s parents. Shortly thereafter, the probation department holds a preliminary inquiry hearing. The purpose of the preliminary inquiry hearing is to determine whether the juvenile should be released back to the custody of their parents or grandparents, or whether it is in their best interest to remain at the detention facility.
After the court makes the pre-trial detention decision, it schedules a pre-trial date. While the government must prove every element of the charged offenses beyond a reasonable doubt, juveniles are not entitled to a jury trial. Thus, a single judge hears these cases and renders a decision.
If the judge adjudicates the juvenile delinquent, this is the equivalent of a “guilty” verdict in adult court. The court must then decide what to do with the juvenile. The judge hears from the prosecution, the probation department, the juvenile’s attorney, and their caregivers. The judge may decide to keep the juvenile in the community, order them to attend a residential treatment facility, or place the child at the Juvenile Department of Corrections.
Reach Out to an Attorney Who Understands Indiana Juvenile Court
If you or your child faces an Indiana juvenile crime, reach out to Eskew Law for immediate assistance. The impact of being adjudicated delinquent can have profound consequences on a young adult’s life, so everything should be done to avoid adjudication. At Eskew Law, we have extensive experience defending the rights of juveniles. We routinely work with juveniles charged with serious offenses, helping them move on with their lives after an arrest. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation, call Eskew Law. You can also reach our attorneys through our online contact form .