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Juvenile Delinquency Laws

In the State of Connecticut, children under the age of 18 who are arrested are treated as juvenile offenders and have their cases heard in juvenile court. (There are exceptions to the 18-and-under rule in certain types of serious criminal conduct; those cases are transferred to adult court.)

Like adults, children can be arrested in two ways:

  • The child can be arrested on-site. This means that a police officer has probable cause to believe that the child has committed a crime and arrests the child. The child is issued a summons, which requires the child and parent to appear in court on a given date and answer the summons.
  • The child can be arrested via an arrest warrant. This means the arresting officer has written an affidavit, which they believe contains sufficient probable cause to justify arresting the child. The warrant is then signed by a judge, and the child and parent are notified of the warrant. The child is encouraged to surrender to the police or the police will locate the child and take the child into custody.

Jump to: After the Arrest

Letter of the Law:

Sec. 46b-121h. Goals of juvenile justice system. It is the intent of the General Assembly that the juvenile justice system provide individualized supervision, care, accountability and treatment in a manner consistent with public safety to those juveniles who violate the law. The juvenile justice system shall also promote prevention efforts through the support of programs and services designed to meet the needs of juveniles charged with the commission of a delinquent act. The goals of the juvenile justice system shall be to:

  1. Hold juveniles accountable for their unlawful behavior;
  2. Provide secure and therapeutic confinement to those juveniles who present a danger to the community;
  3. Adequately protect the community and juveniles;
  4. Provide programs and services that are community-based and are provided in close proximity to the juvenile's community;
  5. Retain and support juveniles within their homes whenever possible and appropriate;
  6. Base probation treatment planning upon individual case management plans;
  7. Include the juvenile's family in the case management plan;
  8. Provide supervision and service coordination where appropriate and implement and monitor the case management plan in order to discourage reoffending;
  9. Provide follow-up and nonresidential postrelease services to juveniles who are returned to their families or communities;
  10. Promote the development and implementation of community-based programs including, but not limited to, mental health services, designed to prevent unlawful behavior and to effectively minimize the depth and duration of the juvenile's involvement in the juvenile justice system; and
  11. Create and maintain programs for juvenile offenders that are gender specific in that they comprehensively address the unique needs of a targeted gender group.

After the Arrest

Once a child has been arrested, they must appear in juvenile court before a juvenile judge. After appearing in court for the first time, the State’s Attorney and the child’s attorney will schedule at least two court dates.

The Pretrial

The first date scheduled is usually a pretrial. This is a meeting between your child’s attorney and the State’s Attorney prosecuting your child’s case.

At this meeting, the child’s attorney and State’s Attorney will attempt to resolve the charges against the child.There are numerous ways that a charge can be resolved. For example:

  • The prosecutor could agree that, given the juvenile’s history, it would be appropriate for the local juvenile probation office to handle the charge in a non-judicial manner. This means that the juvenile will be asked to complete certain conditions, but there is no guilty plea entered and the child is not convicted.
  • At the other end of the spectrum, the State’s Attorney could seek a guilty plea and look to have the child committed as a delinquent. This essentially means that the State believes the child poses such a threat to themselves and others that they must be locked up for a period of time. A commitment in Connecticut is for an initial period of 18 months, with the ability for this to be extended another 18 months.

After the Pretrial

After completion of the pretrial, the child will return to court for a plea and deposition. At this hearing, in front of a juvenile judge, the child will:

  • Enter a plea, if the child’s attorney and State’s Attorney have come to an agreed-upon plan, or
  • The child can reject the State’s offer and seek a trial to attempt to obtain an acquittal

The Bottom Line

If your child is facing criminal charges, he or she needs an experienced attorney immediately – please contact The Law Offices of John J. Ghidini immediately »

Do not be tempted to attempt to talk your child out of trouble. This will not work – and in most cases, parents do more harm than good by speaking to prosecutors and juvenile probation officers without the assistance of a competent attorney.