Article II. Prehearing Procedures


Rule 17: Time Limits on Scheduling Adjudicatory Hearings.

(a) Time Limits, Generally. All cases in which a child is detained or in custody shall be scheduled for adjudication within thirty (30) days of the date the child is taken into custody. All other cases shall initially be scheduled for adjudication within thirty (30) days of the date of filing if such early scheduling appears to the court to be entirely reasonable and possible considering the circumstances of the case, including but not limited to whether the whereabouts of a necessary party is known and whether publication is necessary. In any event, every case shall be scheduled to be heard within ninety (90) days.

(b) Continuances. Upon good cause being shown, any case may be continued to a date certain as the court may direct.

(c) Valid Court Order Cases. Cases of children in detention alleged to be unruly and in violation of a valid court order shall be adjudicated within seventy-two (72) hours exclusive of nonjudicial days of the time detained.

 Advisory Commission Comments.

The varying time limits in these rules for children in custody or detention and children not in custody indicate the committee's strong intent that cases involving children in custody, and especially in secure detention, be given priority on the docket. Of course, all hearings should be scheduled and held as speedily as possible in the interest of providing timely treatment for children who are found under these rules and the code to require it, and in the interest of allowing children whose cases are eventually dismissed to get on with their lives. The committee recognizes the fact that a child's perception of time is quite different from that of an adult, with shorter periods of time being felt as being much extended, so that it is important that whatever action is taken be taken expeditiously, within the limits of practicability.

 There are instances, however, where it will be quite appropriate to allow for a relatively longer period of time prior to disposition, in particular, for the child to prove to the court that a less restrictive disposition may be desirable in the case, for example. This is the purpose of the long ninety-day limits in cases in which children are not being held in custody, and of the provisions allowing for extensions of the time limits. Another valid reason for extensions of the limits would be to obtain psychological evaluations and testing which could not be obtained within the specified time limits.

 The committee strongly urges that, unless there are legitimate and extraordinary reasons such as these for such extensions, the limits set forth in the rule be complied with. Further, although Rule 18 allows limits of fifteen and ninety days, respectively, for cases in which a child is or is not in custody, it should be noted that under these rules dispositional hearings may be held immediately following the adjudicatory hearing if the court determines that delay for preparation by the parties is not necessary.

 In any case in which the time limits prescribed in Rule 17 are not complied with, or in which the provisions for continuances are not complied with, the court may dismiss the charges with prejudice where it determines that failure to comply with the time limits constitutes a violation of the respondent's right to a speedy trial. In any case in which the time limits prescribed in Rule 18 are not complied with, or in which the provisions for extensions are not complied with, the court may discharge the child from the jurisdiction of the juvenile court if the court determines that the interests of justice so require. However, in such cases the charges themselves would not be dismissed and the child would still have a “record”or involvement with the juvenile court.

Advisory Commission Comments [2007].

The amendment addresses the issue of continuances in juvenile cases in order to emphasize the necessity for timely hearings and to minimize the negative effect that continuances have on children achieving permanency in a timely manner. The term “custody” includes children placed in detention or in the legal custody of the Department of Children’s Services or any licensed child-placing agency.

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