These cases involve children under 18 years of age who are charged with committing what would be a crime if they were an adult. Children have a right to a lawyer, and if they or the parents cannot afford a lawyer, the court will appoint one for the child.
Under certain limited circumstances, the Court Service Unit keeps some of these cases from coming into Juvenile Court so that the judges never see them. This is called Diversion. The Court Service Unit does this if the Intake Officer thinks that the child and the family can be served better without going through the court process.
For cases that come to the Juvenile Court, the possible punishments for children convicted of delinquent acts are
- Community service
- Confinement in the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Home for a period of up to 30 days
- Confinement in the Northern Virginia Juvenile Detention Home for up to six months in a program called the Post Dispositional Program
- Indeterminate or determinate sentences to a facility run by the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice.
- For very serious cases, if the child is fourteen years of age or older, the Court can, if requested, transfer or certify the child to the Circuit Court for trial of the case as though the child were an adult.
The words transfer
have very specific legal meanings under Virginia Law. Through either process, the child's case can be sent to the Circuit Court for trial.
For more information, please speak with an Intake Officer for the Court Service Unit at 703.746.4144.