Juvenile Court Glossary of Terms

Adjudication
The pronouncing of a judgment in a case. As an example, the judge adjudicates a case when the judge decides whether the allegations in the petition are true or not.


Arraignment
A hearing at which one is advised of the charges that have been filed in one's interest, is advised of one's rights, and is offered a opportunity to remain silent or to admit or deny the charges.


Biological Father
The mail who impregnated the biological mother resulting in the birth of a child.


Bond
A written document in which one person (or agency) assumes liability for the conduct of another person. A child or parent has a right to ask the Court to release the child from secure detention pending further legal proceedings. Bonds may be secured (by property or money) or unsecured. Children have a right to bond in similar fashion as adults.


Child
Any individual who is:

  1. Under the age of 17 years;
  2. Under the age of 21 years, who committed an act of delinquency before reaching the age of 17 years, and who has been placed under the supervision of the court on probation to the court;
  3. Under the age of 18 years, if alleged to be a "deprived child".

Custodian
A person, other than a parent or legal guardian, who stands in loco parentis to the child or a person to whom legal custody of the child has been given by order of a court, and who has the rights and duties provided by law.


Delinquent Act
Generally, an act that is designated a crime by the laws of this State, or by the laws of another state if the act occurred in that state, under federal laws, or by local ordinances and certain traffic offenses. Also the act of disobeying the terms of supervision contained in a court order directed to a child who has been adjudicated to have committed a delinquent act.


Delinquent Child
A child who has committed a delinquent act and is in need of treatment or rehabilitation. (See Georgia Code Section15-11-2)


Deprived Child
One who is without proper parental care or control, subsistence, education as required by law, or other care or control necessary for one's physical, mental or emotional health or morals; or one who has been placed for care or adoption in violation of law; or one who has been abandoned by parents or other legal custodian; or one who is without a parent, guardian or custodian. (See Georgia Code Section 15-11-2)


Designated Felony
A list of particularly egregious offenses that may result in incarceration of a child for up to five years. (See Georgia Code Section 15-11-37)


Detention
A place of confinement for juvenile offenders. Detention may be secure, such as a Regional Detention Center, nor non-secure, such as in the custody of a relative or the Department of Family and Children Services. Secure detention facilities are operated by the Department of Juvenile Justice. Places of detention are defined by Georgia law. Secure detention prior to adjudication is controlled by public policy and local court policy.

  1. As a matter of public policy, restraints on the freedom of accused children prior to adjudication shall be imposed only when there is probable cause to believe that the accused child did the act of which he or she is accused and there is clear and convincing evidence that the child's freedom should be restrained.
  2. The imposition of interim control or detention on an accused child may be considered for the purposes of: 
    1. Protecting the jurisdiction and process of the court;
    2.  
    3. Reducing the likelihood that the child may inflict serious bodily harm on others during the interim period; or 
    4. Protecting the accused child from imminent bodily harm upon his or her request. 
  3. Interim control or detention shall not be imposed on an accused child: 
    1. To punish, treat, or rehabilitate the child;
    2.  
    3. To allow parents to avoid their legal responsibilities;
    4.  
    5. To satisfy demands by a victim, the police, or the community; 
    6. To permit more convenient administrative access to the child; or 
    7. To facilitate further interrogation or investigation.

Detention (continued)

  1. Whenever an accused child cannot be unconditionally released, conditional or supervised release that results in the least necessary interference with the liberty of the child shall be favored over more intrusive alternatives.
  2.  
  3. Whenever the interim curtailment of an accused child's freedom is permitted under this Code section, the exercise of authority shall reflect the following values: 
    1. Respect for the privacy, dignity, and individuality of the accused child and his or her family; 
    2. Protection of the psychological and physical health of the child; 
    3. Tolerance of the diverse values and preferences among different groups and individuals; 
    4. Assurance of equality of treatment by race, class, ethnicity, and sex;
    5. Avoidance of regimentation and depersonalization of the child; 
    6. Avoidance of stigmatization of the child; and 
    7. Assurance that the child has been informed of his or her right to consult with an attorney and that if the child cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided.
 


Detention Hearing
If a child is not released from detention, that child must be brought before the Court for an informal detention hearing to determine whether detention or shelter case is required. Detention hearings are required to be held within 72 hours after the child is placed in detention unless the time expires on a weekend or legal holiday.


Deprived Child
A deprived child is one who is:

  1. A) without proper parental care or control, subsistence, education as required by law, or other care or control necessary for his physical, mental, or emotional health or morals; or,
  2. has been placed for care or adoption in violation of law; or
  3. has been abandoned by parents or other legal custodian; or
  4. is without a parent, guardian, or custodian.


Disposition
Deciding what to do about a case that has been adjudicated. In adult criminal court the equivalent is a sentencing hearing.


Guardian Ad Litem (GAL)
A qualified person appointed by the Court to represent the bests interests of the child. The Guardian Ad Litem may be an attorney. A guardian ad litem is required to be appointed for unruly children and in certain other special proceedings.


Informal Supervision
A continuing consensual legal relationship between the Court and a child who is assigned a probation officer. The child has conditions of supervision. Informal supervision can used for a period a 90 days unless extended. Informal supervision is used for unruly children and less serious first offender delinquency cases. On successful completion, the complaint or petition may be dismissed.


Jurisdiction
Matters of fact which much exist before the Court can properly be involved in a case. The inherent power of the Court to decide a case. Age and residence of a child are examples of jurisdiction.


Juvenile court intake officer
The juvenile court judge, associate juvenile court judge, court service worker, or person employed as a juvenile probation or intake officer designated by the juvenile court judge or, where there is none, the superior court judge, which person is on duty for the purpose of determining whether any child taken into custody should be released or detained and, if detained, the appropriate place of detention. Each superior or juvenile court judge shall provide for one of the above persons to be on duty or on call as an intake officer during each 24 hour period.

 

Legal Father
A mail who has:

  1. (a) has legally adopted a child;
  2. (b) was married to the biological mother of that child at the time the child was conceived or was born, unless paternity was disproved by a final order pursuant to Georgia law;
  3. (c) married the legal mother of the child after the child was born and recognized the child as his own, unless such paternity was disproved by a final order pursuant to Georgia law;
  4. (d) has been determined to be the father by a final paternity order.

Legal Mother
A female who is the biological or adoptive mother of the child and who has not surrendered or had terminated her rights to the child.


Petition
A formal written document that sets out the allegations of one Party to a case against another. (See Georgia Code Section 15-11-25)


Probation
A continuing legal relationship between the Court and a child in which the child is supervised by Court staff with conditions of supervision. A violation of the conditions of supervision is a separate offense.


Protective Order
A order issued by a Juvenile Court Judge usually directed to an adult, to do or not to do certain things which would interfere with the treatment, rehabilitation or supervision of a child. Violation of a protective order could result in contempt of court.


Records
All deprived children, unruly children and first offender delinquent children (except designated felons) have a right to limited confidentiality of their records. The public has access to the complaint, petition and dispositional order of any child who has been previously adjudicated delinquent and commits a second delinquent offense, or of any child who is charged with a designated felony.


RYDC
Regional Youth Development Center - A secure detention center for children. These are operated by the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice.


Status Offender
A juvenile who is charged with an offense which would not be a crime if committed by an adult. Such offenses include but are not limited to truancy, running away from home, incorrigibility, and unruly behavior.


Taking into custody
To deprive a person of liberty by legal authority. Children are not arrested but they may be "taken into custody."


Status Offenders
A Status Offender is a juvenile who is charged with an offense which would not be a crime if committed by an adult. Such offenses include but are not limited to truancy, running away from home, incorrigibility, and unruly behavior.


Unruly Child
One who has violated a law that is applicable only to a child. Such offenses include but are not limited to truancy, running away from home, curfew violation, being habitually disobedient of the reasonable and lawful commands of one's parent. (See Georgia Code Section 15-11-2)


A child who is:

  1. subject to compulsory school attendance and is habitually and without justification truant from school;
  2. habitually disobedient of the reasonable and lawful commands of the child's parent, guardian, or other custodian and is ungovernable;
  3. has committed an offense which is applicable only to a child;
  4. without just cause and without the consent of the child's parent or legal custodian deserts the child's place of abode;
  5. wanders or loiters about the streets of any city, or in or about any highway or any public place, between the hours of 12:00 midnight and 5:00 a.m.;
  6. disobeys the terms of supervision contained in a court order which has been directed to such child, who has been adjudicated unruly;
  7. patronizes any bar where alcoholic beverages are being sold, unaccompanied by such child's parent, guardian or custodian; and, in any of the foregoing, is in need of supervision, treatment, or rehabilitation.


Venue
Where (what county) the case will be filed. Venue is typically the county where the act occurred or the legal residence of the child's custodian. If delinquent or unruly conduct is alleged, the proceeding may be commenced in the county in which the acts constituting the alleged delinquent or unruly conduct occurred. If deprivation is alleged, the proceeding may be brought in the county in which the child is present when it is commenced.


Warrant
A Court order directed to a law enforcement officer to take a child into custody (arrest) and bring that child before the Court. Law enforcement have the authority take a child into custody without a warrant if they believe that child has committed a delinquent or unruly act or if they believe the child is deprived and is immediate danger from his/her surroundings.