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Indiana Juvenile Justice System


Most children under 18 years old who are arrested or break the law will have their case in juvenile court. They may be there because of a delinquent offense or a status offense. Examples of delinquent offenses include shoplifting, battery, and driving a car without a license, along with many other crimes that can also be committed by adults. Examples of status offenses are truancy from school, curfew violations, underage drinking, and running away from home. Only children can commit status offenses.

If a child is referred to juvenile court, a lot of different things can happen. Sometimes the child can decide to do an informal plan with probation instead of going in front of a judge. Other times, the child does have to go before a judge. The judge can decide whether to close a case, put a child on probation, or send a child to the Department of Correction. The judge can order the child to do things like counseling, community service work, meet with a mentor, go to school, or even go to a secure facility.

A child in juvenile court has a lot of rights. You can learn more about your rights here. Every child has a right to an attorney. It is very important that an attorney or public defender is assigned to represent every child in juvenile court. The attorney will help the child understand what is happening in the case and will help the child get the result he or she wants. You can learn more about how to get an attorney here.

Being referred to juvenile court can make things hard for a child. You can learn more about how a juvenile case can impact you here.

Juvenile findings do not go away when a child turns 18. These records stay in a computer system until you ask for them to be deleted, or expunged. Learn how to ask for an expungement here.


Source: Indiana Public Defender Council (2024). Indiana Juvenile Justice System