Worcester Juvenile Court Criminal Cases
Throughout Massachusetts, any person under 17 years old is prosecuted in the Juvenile Court system. In Worcester County, the department holds sessions in Worcester, Dudley, Fitchburg, Milford and Leominster.
Juveniles become part of the juvenile system through arrest or a show cause hearing. If your child is subjected to a show cause hearing, the sufficiency of the evidence is tested before charges are officially filed. Moreover, negotiations can be made to avoid the issuing of the charges.
When arrested, your child will be brought before the court for arraignment and bail hearing. Often the judge will set a number of conditions for your child and entrust a probation officer with the enforcement of those conditions, including curfew and random drug screens. If your child is held on bail, he or she would be held at a local Department of Youth Services (DYS) facility until the case is resolved.
In order to prosecute your child, the district attorney's office can choose to treat your child as a delinquent or a youthful offender. If your child is prosecuted as a delinquent, there are a number of dispositions that he or she could receive. If your child gets probation, be prepared to become very close with his or her probation officer. Interactions with the probation officer will include visits to home and school, drug tests, and any other condition that the judge feels is appropriate. If your child will do time in a locked facility, he or she will be governed by the Department of Youth Services until his or her 18th birthday.
If your child is prosecuted as a youthful offender, a process usually reserved for serious crimes, your child could be exposed to potential adult punishments, including commitments to county jail or state prison. The DA's office must present your child's case to the grand jury and the case must be indicted before your child is treated as a youthful offender. However, if the DA's office chooses to prosecute through this method, it is very likely your child will be looking at a serious sentence.
The actual prosecution of a juvenile case is very similar to prosecutions in adult court. Your child can fight the charges at the show cause hearing, file motions to dismiss and suppress during the case, and force the DA's office to prove the case through a jury or jury-waived trial.
A big mistake made by parents is thinking that Juvenile Court cases are not serious. Unless you are willing to have a second set of parents looking over your child every day, the prosecution of your son or daughter through the juvenile system is a serious matter that should not be treated differently.