I have a question about police discretion and the charging of juveniles. If a juvenile is charged with an offense, does that case always get referred to juvenile court? Or can the charge be referred to a JRB or some other diversion option? If all charges have to be referred to juvenile court, what then is the proper term to use when discussing cases referred by police to JRBS and the other diversion options?Asking when a juvenile is "charged" is like asking when is a juvenile "arrested." There isn't a simple answer because it depends on the definitions you are using. Clearly a juvenile is "arrested" when they are in the custody of a police officer and they are not free to leave. I would also say however that a juvenile is "arrested" any time the police determine there is probable cause to believe they committed a crime and they are required to answer to the charges. So even if there was no custodial arrest, they have still been "arrested" as far as I am concerned.
Similarly, a juvenile is "charged" by the police when they determine there is probable cause to believe the kid committed a crime and they are required to answer to the "charges" filed by the police. It doesn't matter if they are brought to detention or served with a summons. They are still "charged" at that point. If the police do an investigation and find insufficient evidence or if they have sufficient evidence but decide for whatever reason to just let the kid go with a warning, then I would say that kid was not "charged" with any offenses because the kid is not required to answer to any "charges."
If there is sufficient evidence, and the police decide to divert the case to the JRB or other diversion program, I would say the kid has still been "arrested" and has also been "charged" by the police. The only difference is the forum where the case will be handled. In other words the police have filed "charges" against the kid but instead of having the court hear the case, the case is diverted to a diversion program. The kid still has to answer to the specific "charges" filed by the police, but the kid answers to the charges at the JRB rather than the court.
So to answer your questions, if a kid is "charged" do they have to be referred to the juvenile court? I would say no. They are "charged" at the point where the police have accused them of a specific crime and somewhere (in court or a diversion program) the kid has to answer to those charges.
I think it is proper to say that kids that have their cases handled by JRBs have been "arrested" and "charged." The difference is that they will not be "convicted" or "adjudicated." The same would be said about cases handled non-judicially by the court. The kid was "arrested" and "charged" but the case was handled in a way that did not result in a "conviction" or "adjudication."
It could also be said that a kid is not "charged" until a Petition or Information is filed in court. That would be a more formal definition of being "charged" and it would refer to a kid being "charged" by the State versus "charged" by the police. Such use of the term would mean that a kid whose case was handled non-judicially or by a JRB was not "charged" because they had not been formally charged by the State. I think that such a definition would be an unusual interpretation of the concept of being "charged."
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