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Delinquent or Unruly Child

A delinquent child is one that violates a law that would be criminal if an adult had committed the offense. A unruly child is one that is habitually truant, does not submit to the control of their parents/teachers/guardian, behaves in a way that could injure their health or morals or those of another, or violates a law that applies only to children. Cases involving delinquent and unruly juveniles is heard by the juvenile division of the Common Pleas Court, except in certain circumstances requiring the child to be tried as an adult.

Basic Juvenile Court Terminology

  • Adjudicatory Hearing – similar to a trial held in an adult criminal case to determine guilt
  • Dispositional Hearing – similar to a sentencing in an adult criminal case to determine punishment
  • Admission – equivalent to guilty plea in an adult criminal case
  • Denial – equivalent to a not guilty plea in an adult criminal case

Procedure in Ohio for a Delinquent or Unruly Child

A child can be taken immediately into custody for certain offenses which would affect the timing of the Court process. Assuming a child is not first taken into custody, the Court process is as follows:

  1. The child is served with the Complaint filed that contains the alleged offense;
  2. An initial appearance is scheduled where the child will appear and enter an “admission” or “denial” to the offense charged, if an admission is entered then the Court may determine whether the juvenile is guilty at that time;
  3. If a denial is entered, an adjudicatory hearing is scheduled where evidence and testimony are presented to the Court regarding the alleged offense and the Court will make a determination as to whether the juvenile is guilty;
  4. If the juvenile is found guilty, a dispositional hearing is scheduled where evidence and testimony are presented related to the appropriate sentence for the delinquent or unruly juvenile and the Court will sentence the juvenile.

Possible Punishment and Consequences for a Delinquent or Unruly Child

One possible option that some juvenile courts use for first time, non-violent offenders is known as diversion.  Diversion typically requires the juvenile to complete a list of activities such as probation, community service, attend classes, and other items as the Court deems appropriate.  If the juvenile successfully complete the diversion program, the Court may dismiss the charge against the juvenile.  If the juvenile fails to complete the diversion program, the Court will sentence the juvenile as it deems just.  Diversion is not available for all cases and the requirements may vary.

If diversion is not a possibility or the juvenile fails to complete the diversion program, some of the possible penalties and consequences are as follows:

  • Community control;
  • Probation;
  • Community service;
  • House arrest;
  • Curfew;
  • Suspension of driver’s license;
  • Temporary or permanent custody to the state;
  • Sentenced to a detention facility;
  • Drug, alcohol, mental, or psychological treatment or counseling;
  • Drug and alcohol monitoring;
  • If charged as an adult, a prison sentence;
  • Payment of fines and court costs;
  • Restitution.

In some circumstances, a juvenile may be charged as an adult and may face serious consequences.  If your child has been charged as a delinquent or unruly child, contact a licensed Ohio attorney immediately as the custody of your child could be affected.  Click here to be directed to the Contact page for Yates Law Office, LLC.