Juvenile Disposition Hearing

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What is a Juvenile Dispositional Hearing?

In a juvenile criminal case, the “disposition hearing” is basically the sentencing portion of trial.  The purpose of a disposition hearing is to determine the most appropriate form of treatment or custody for juvenile offenders.

Juvenile proceedings are distinct from regular adult criminal trials.  Sentencing for juvenile crimes tends to focus more on rehabilitating the minor rather than punishing them for their wrongdoings.  This type of outlook is reflected in the disposition hearing, which sometimes provides the juvenile with treatment, rehabilitation, or training as an alternative for jail time.

What is Determined during a Disposition Hearing?

During a disposition hearing, the juvenile court will focus on several key factors to determine what the consequences of the offense will be.  In general, there are three basic determinations that happen during the juvenile dispositional hearing:

These determinations will vary largely according to each individual juvenile case.  Some of the factors that a juvenile court analyzes during dispositions include:

Note that, if the juvenile is tried as an adult, some of these protections will not be available to them.  They will be tried according to adult laws, which often focus more on punishment and deterrence rather than rehabilitation. 

Can Arguments be Presented during Disposition Hearings?

Yes- at disposition hearings, the juvenile defendant and their attorney can present evidence which will help the judge to reach their decisions.  Also, the victim in the case can present oral or written testimonies at the disposition hearings.
After hearing both sides, the judge will then review all the relevant arguments to reach the best solution for rehabilitating the minor.  The judge will also make considerations regarding the best way to correct the injuries or losses of the victim.

Do I need a Criminal Lawyer for Juvenile Disposition Hearings?

If you are involved in a juvenile disposition hearing, you should consult with a criminal lawyer for assistance in court.  It is important that you present the judge with the facts and details surrounding your situation.  Your attorney will be able to present all the important pieces of evidence leading to a favorable outcome. 

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Last Modified: 05-06-2011 04:09 PM PDT

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