Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is formal Probation?
Juveniles are put on formal probation after they plead guilty or are found guilty at a trial. Probation is an opportunity for the juvenile to provide to the Judge and the community that they are not a threat to public safety and that they do not need to be removed from their home and put in a more restrictive setting. The time on probation is also a period where the probation officer is working closely with the juvenile and his/her parents to identify any problems that need to be addressed and help them rectify the situation. The goal of probation is to rehabilitate youths who have committed a delinquent act.
2. How long is Probation going to last?
Probation is typically between three months to one year or longer. Probation can be extended if there are violations of probation or the Judge decides to extend probation after a Court Hearing. A juvenile can be on probation until the age of 19 (21 in certain very serious circumstances). Probation can also be shortened under certain circumstances.
3. What are my terms of probation going to be?
The probation officer who completes the preliminary investigation into the offense(s) will make recommendations to the Judge for terms of probation. These recommendations are put in a report called an “Initial Disposition Report” that is given to the Judge. It is important to understand that there are no sentencing guidelines in the Juvenile Court and the terms of probation can vary from juvenile to juvenile depending on their needs. Also, your terms of probation can be modified at a Court Hearing if the probation officer supervising your probation feels that there is a good reason.
4. What happens if I violate probation?
It is our goal that no juvenile violates probation. However if a violation occurs, then another court hearing will be scheduled. In certain situations, the probation officer may request a pick-up order to be issued and the police will be sent to the home or the school to pick up a child who is alleged to have violated probation. If found guilty of a probation violation then the probation officer filing the petition will be responsible for making recommendations for any changes to the terms of probation. Your probation may be extended and other consequences may be imposed. You may also be removed from your home and placed in a juvenile detention center, foster care, or residential treatment center.
5. What is a juvenile Detention Center?
A Juvenile Detention Center is a secure building with locked doors where juveniles are placed for short term consequences, for pre-trial detention or for waiting for placement.
6. What is a Residential Treatment Center?
A residential treatment center is a facility where juveniles are placed for long-term treatment. Typically these programs take anywhere from one to two years to complete but the actual length of time depends on the individual needs of the juvenile and his/her effort to complete the requirements of the program. A juvenile can remain in a treatment center until his/her 19th birthday (until age 21 in certain very serious circumstances).
7. What is Foster Care?
Foster Care is a regular home with foster parents who have been licensed by the State of Michigan and trained to work with delinquent or neglected and abused children.
8. Will I be drug tested?
Yes. A standard term in every juvenile’s probation is that tyou may not use or consume alcohol or controlled substances. You will be tested at the discretion of the probation officer during random, unannounced visits to your home, school, or when you come to the Court. You and your parents are responsible for reimbursing the court for the costs of the drug tests.
9. What is Consent Calendar?
Juvenile consent calendar placement may be considered for misdemeanor or non-violent crimes, or first time juvenile offenders. If an offender is placed on the consent calendar, no formal plea is entered. Both the parents and the accused must accept the juvenile’s placement on the consent calendar. The court will then set out specific terms that must be completed by the juvenile within a specified period of time. Additionally, fingerprints may not be taken if a juvenile is placed on consent supervision. Consent calendar placement is completely non-public, and all records will be destroyed when the youth turns 20. The juvenile consent calendar gives adolescents the opportunity to keep a clear record and escape harsh lifelong consequences.
If a juvenile fails to complete the conditions set out by the court or is charged with another crime while on the consent calendar, the case could be placed on the formal calendar, and can go to trial with a formal, recorded plea.
10. What is Teen Court?
Teen Court is a “peer court” for first time misdemeanor and traffic offenders. The program is conducted by volunteer teens who are trained in courtroom protocol, judicial process and the responsibilities of the various court personnel. The teen volunteers, along with a Judge and juvenile probation officer, conduct court hearings for various misdemeanor criminal cases. Juveniles receive a sentence from a jury of their peers, that must be completed within a certain time period. Those who successfully complete the program have their cases dismissed.
*REMINDER: The Judge has the final say in any case that he presides over. Probation staff can only make recommendations to the court and can not make changes to the terms of probation after the Judge orders them.