The Simple Law On
Kentucky Juvenile Court
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
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Who gets a Public Defender?
Public Defenders are attorneys that are provided free of charge to people who cannot afford to hire an attorney. To qualify for a public defender the judge will either ask questions about the juvenile's family income and assets or will require the family to fill out a form.
In cases where the parent is the victim of the crime, the court does not require the family to pay for an attorney for the juvenile.
At Arraignment, the judge will ask if the juvenile's family will be hiring an attorney or if they would like the judge to see if the juvenile qualifies for a public defender. The judge will ask questions like, do you own your own home, how much money do you have in savings, do you own a car, and how much money does each person in the house make? Based on these questions the judge will decide if the family meets the requirements to have a free attorney appointed for the juvenile.
What should I wear to court?
As a general guideline, a juvenile should wear something that would be worn to church or to a nice event. Justice may be blind, but the judge is not. T-shirts with inappropriate slogans, short shorts, sagging pants, and clothes that are too tight, too loose, or vulgar are not appropriate for court. These are not only suggestions for the juveniles, but also for the parents.
For guys, the best bet is a nice pair of slacks and a shirt and tie or a golf-type collared shirt. For girls, a nice suit or a blouse with slacks or a skirt will make a good impression. The courtroom is not a fashion show or night club, it is not okay to dress provocatively in the courtroom. Low-cut, see-through, or exposed undergarments do not communicate to the judge that the parent or juvenile is taking the case seriously. Shirts with holes or the sleeves ripped off are not appropriate. This is a very serious occasion for a child; it is important for all parties to to dress in a way that shows that the seriousness of the situation is understood and that the judge is respected.
What does detention mean?
When most people think of detention and juveniles, they think about going to the principal’s office and having to stay after school. That is not what detention means in juvenile court; there detention means going to the state or county run detention center and staying there until the judge releases the defendant or until the defendant has served the number of days the judge ordered. The detention center is a jail for juveniles.
What is a PDI?
The Department of Juvenile Justice generally gets involved in a case when the judge requests a Pre Dispositional Investigation ( PDI). This usually happens after the defendant has pled guilty or has been found guilty through an adjudication hearing (trial). A PDI is a chance for the DJJ worker to meet the defendant and the defendant’s family and determine the most appropriate services for the defendant.
To complete a PDI the DJJ worker will meet with and talk to the defendant and the defendant’s family, looking at the defendant’s medical, mental health and school records, as well as checking the defendant’s prior criminal and social service records. The DJJ worker then prepares a report that is given to the defense attorney, the judge, and the prosecutor. At the end of that report are the recommendations of the DJJ worker. Those recommendations can include monitoring by the court, community service, supervision by the worker for a set time, individual, group, and family counseling, structured after-school programs, drug screens, time in detention, placement outside of the home and community, in-patient treatment, and more.
Defendants can also be probated to DJJ or committed to DJJ. Either way, resources are provided to the defendant. Some of those resources are education, vocational training, counseling for the defendant and the family, mental health or substance abuse counseling, and sex offender treatment.
If a defendant is committed to DJJ and that commitment is probated, that means the defendant will live at home with a parent or guardian but will be monitored and visited by a DJJ staff member. Including home visits, school visits, contact with counselors, having the defendant come to the DJJ office, random drug screens, curfew checks, and other personal contact.
If a defendant is committed to DJJ and not probated, the defendant will be placed in a secure DJJ facility (a detention center) until a proper placement can be found. Once committed, the defendant could still be placed at home. The workers look at each individual situation to decide where the defendant will live. In commitment, the defendant can receive education, training, and intensive treatment. Commitment generally ends at age eighteen; however, it can continue to age twenty one in some circumstances.
What if I miss school / work for court?
Many times, a juvenile appearing in court will have to miss school or the parents of that juvenile will have to miss work. In order for that day to be an excused absence, the juvenile must bring a note from the court and turn it in to school. Notes can be picked up from the clerk in the courtroom or from the district clerk’s office. It is always best to check with the judge before leaving the courtroom.
Does a juvenile have to be represented by an attorney?
While it is always best to be represented by an attorney, the Kentucky Revised Statutes do allow a child to proceed without an attorney under certain circumstances.
How can a juvenile get their records expunged?
Juvenile records are confidential, however some people may want to have their records expunged. The Kentucky Revised Statutes do allow a child to expunge records under certain circumstances. An attorney can assist with the process that is stated in KRS 610.330.