In Michigan, if you are age 17 years or under and you are arrested, you are most likely to be sent to the Juvenile Court Division. Juveniles can be charged with same crimes adults are charged; however, they can also be charged with what are called "status offenses". A status offense is crime only a juvenile can receive because they relate to events like school truancy, incorrigibility, or minor in possession of alcohol.
If your child is charged with a crime, as a juvenile there are various options that the Court can take including:
- Dismiss the case
- Refer the youth to counseling under the "Juvenile Diversion Act," if the youth agrees
- Place the case on a "consent calendar" - an informal process of court supervision
- Place the case on the "formal calendar" and allow charges to go forward against the youth.
If a juvenile has been placed on a formal calendar, your child has a right to an attorney. So, if you can't afford to hire an attorney for a juvenile, the Court will appoint an attorney. A juvenile charged with a crime also has the same rights as an adult in a criminal case with a few exceptions procedurally. This includes that a juvenile has a right to have their case heard before a Judge and/or a Jury.
If a minor is found responsible for a criminal act, the Court will then issue what is called a "dispositional" order. This order is like a probation order. It will dictate the conditions that the juvenile will have to meet in order to be discharged from the Court's control.
It's critical to understand that the Juvenile Court has the ability to remove a juvenile from their home and place the child in a more restrictive setting. These are called treatment facilities.
Once a child is placed away from home, they usually have to successfully complete the program in order to return. It's also important to know that there are no end dates on juvenile orders. Generally, a Court can exercise control over a minor until they are 19 years old and in some cases until they are 21.