Article II. Prehearing Procedures


Rule 8: Initiation of Cases.

(a) Complaint. Any person or agency having knowledge of the facts may file a complaint with the juvenile court or an officer designated by the court alleging facts to indicate that a child is delinquent, unruly, or dependent and neglected. The court representative accepting the complaint shall note thereon the date and time of filing.

(b) Juvenile Summons. In delinquent and unruly matters, the complaint may be in the form of a juvenile summons issued by a law enforcement officer or other person authorized by the court. Such summons shall be on a form prescribed or approved by the court.

(c) Preliminary Inquiry. Upon receipt of a complaint, a designated intake court officer shall conduct a preliminary inquiry to determine whether the facts alleged establish that the matter is within the jurisdiction of the court and whether the best interests of the child or of the public require that further court action be taken. However, all complaints alleging that a child is dependent and neglected or abused shall be referred to the Department of Children's Services.

(d) Options at Intake. If the preliminary inquiry indicates that there are facts sufficient to establish the jurisdiction of the court over the child and that court action is appropriate under Rule 12, the designated court officer shall make informal adjustment or accept the filing of a petition, as the facts and circumstances require.

(e) Procedure upon Filing Petition. Upon the filing of a petition, the case shall be set for hearing in accordance with local rules and procedures for the setting of cases. A copy of the petition in all cases alleging a delinquent offense which would be a felony if committed by an adult may be sent to the District Attorney General.

(f) Traffic Offenses. In cases of alleged traffic violations by children, the issuance of a traffic ticket or citation shall be sufficient to invoke the jurisdiction of the court.

[As amended by order filed January 23, 2012, effective July 1, 2012.]

Advisory Commission Comments.

It is the responsibility of the person making a complaint to the juvenile court to furnish the designated court intake officer with information sufficient to establish the court's jurisdiction over the matter and to support the charges against the child. In addition, the designated court officer is required by this rule to conduct an investigation, or “preliminary inquiry,”in order to obtain information necessary for making intake decisions. In the course of this investigation, the designated court officer should proceed substantially as provided in the comment to Rule 5, regarding detention screening investigations. At the beginning of the interview with the child and the child's family, guardian, or legal custodian, the designated court officer should explain the nature of the complaint; the purpose, procedures, and possible outcomes of the intake process; and that the child has the right to remain silent, to have an attorney, and to have an attorney appointed for the child if the child cannot afford to hire one.

 In making decisions whether to dismiss, informally adjust, or file petitions in delinquent cases, it is desirable that, wherever practicable, the designated court officer consult with the district attorney general on questions concerning jurisdiction and legal sufficiency of evidence. While the committee recognizes that in many areas of the state, time constraints will not allow the district attorney to become intimately involved in the intake process, it encourages such involvement in regard to these legal questions, for the purpose of assuring that complaints which are not legally sufficient are screened out of the intake or court process at the outset. Such involvement represents the trend in juvenile court intake across the nation. At a minimum, the district attorney may want to be involved to the extent of electing to prosecute very serious cases for the state or to initiate transfer proceedings in such cases, and may choose for this purpose to arrange to be sent copies of all petitions filed in cases involving offenses which would be felonies if committed by adults.

 The committee recommends that juvenile courts develop local rules and guidelines regarding which types of cases should be informally adjusted, in which one's petitions should be filed whether or not informal adjustment subsequently occurs, and in which one's notification should be given to the district attorney general whether or not a petition is filed. Such rules and guidelines should serve to foster productive communication and coordination between the juvenile court and the office of the district attorney general, and should also promote consistency and fairness in the intake decision-making process. Any such rules or guidelines should be formulated with a view towards implementing the purposes of these rules as stated throughout, and as stated specifically, regarding intake, at subsections (a)(1) —(4) of Rule 12.

Advisory Commission Comments [2012].

The 2012 amendment to paragraph (c) substitutes the term “Department of Children’s Services” for the term “Department of Human Services,” consistent with statutory changes enacted by the General Assembly.

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