The juvenile justice system is quite different from the adult system. The initial move of the court in cases involving minors is rehabilitation over punishment.
If your child is in the system, you may wonder what could happen when he or she goes to court. The judge will have several options, which do not always include sending your child to jail. The State of Mississippi Judiciary explains the court will conduct an intake process to assess the situation and your child, which will help the court to decide what actions to take.
The court may decide to prosecute your child for a crime. If this happens, the judge will send the case to the prosecutor. Your child will need an attorney to represent him or her and formulate a defense case.
The court may also transfer the case to another department, such as the Division of Youth Services. This new agency will take over handling your child’s situation. It may make determinations to help rehabilitate your child, such as counseling or supervision. The department may also decide to remove the child from your home.
The court may decide there is no case against your child or any proof the situation requires further action. It can dismiss everything and let your child go back into your custody.
The court may also issue a formal warning to your child. This is most likely to happen if your child has no previous criminal history. The judge will talk with your child in hopes the process will help your child to understand this is not a path he or she wishes to go down.
If your child’s charges relate to drugs or drug abuse, the court may refer him or her to drug court. Drug court allows your child to avoid criminal charges by following a program designed to help overcome drug addiction.
What the court does will often rely upon your child’s criminal history, your family stability and the charges against your child.