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What Are Disposition Hearings?

Disposition hearings are that portion of a juvenile criminal case where the judge prescribes the appropriate sentence for the juvenile crime. In the juvenile system, criminal sentences for minors tend to focus more on alternative sentencing in comparison to the adult criminal system. Disposition hearings are basically equivalent to the "sentencing" part of an adult criminal trial. They are sometimes called "juvenile disposition hearings." 

What Issues Arise During a Disposition Hearing?

Disposition hearings are usually the later portions of a juvenile criminal case. Just prior to the juvenile sentencing procedure, the court will hear "disposition hearing arguments". These are when both sides present evidence either for or against the juvenile defendant. These arguments will help determine what sentences, if any, are appropriate for the juvenile crime being discussed.

In addition to the hearing arguments, the court may also consider various other factors which will be considered during the disposition hearing. These include the minor’s age, criminal background (if they have one) and other factors.

What Are Some Sentencing Options for Juvenile Offenders?

Traditional jail sentences generally apply for juvenile offenses. However, many juvenile courts allow minors to undergo alternative sentencing options, such as probation, house arrest, diversionary programs, or community service in lieu of jail time. This allows the juvenile offender to remain functional in their communities, and helps them avoid spending long periods of time in jail.

Such alternative sentencing options may not be available for all juvenile offenders. However, they are common for first-time offenders, and for youths being charged with less serious offenses like common theft or trespassing.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance with a Juvenile Crime Case?

Every state has different criminal laws, and juvenile laws may also be different from place to place. You may need to hire a lawyer if you need assistance with any type of juvenile criminal case. A qualified attorney in your region can help you understand how juvenile criminal laws may affect your case. Also, your lawyer can provide you with representation during court hearings and procedures.

Photo of page author Jose Rivera

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 11-14-2013 11:12 AM PST

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