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Glossary of Terms
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We have compiled a list of common words and phrases used in Juvenile Court. We recommend clicking on the "Show all definitions" link below, prior to printing this page.

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Adjudication

When the court finds proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the juvenile committed particular offenses including the grading and counts of said offenses

Allegation

A report received from a police department that details the alleged charges against the juvenile.

Balanced and Restorative Justice

"To provide for the care, protection, safety and wholesome mental and physical development of children committing delinquent acts". Programs of supervision, care and rehabilitation, must provide balanced attention to the protection of the community, the imposition of accountability for offenses committed and the development of competencies to enable children to become responsible and productive members of society. More information.

Bench Warrant

A warrant issued by the Court ordering the arrest of an offender for failure to appear at a Court hearing.

Case Plan

This is an individualized plan for each juvenile supervised on probation. This plan consists of goals, objectives and activities to uniquely address the needs of each juvenile with the intent to prevent reoffending. A probation officer will work collaboratively with the juvenile and their family on establishing the case plan.

Certification

Certification is a proceeding in juvenile court in which the Court determines if a juvenile will stand trial as an adult. If the court decides that the juvenile should be tried in adult court, the juvenile is "certified" to adult court. Certification proceedings are initiated by the District Attorney's Office. Age of the juvenile and the alleged crime are the determining factors in deciding whether or not to certify a juvenile. A juvenile must be at least 14 years of age at time of incident and the crime must be a felony. Amenability to treatment is a significant factor in determining if a juvenile is transferred to adult court.

Collections Department

The department that collects and handles all payments; restitution, fines and Court costs.

Commitment

When a juvenile is court ordered to a residential treatment facility, foster home, group home, drug and alcohol treatment center, or independent living program.

Community Outreach

Juvenile Probation representatives meet with civic and community organizations to provide information about services and encourage involvement from the community

Community Protection

Community Protection emphasizes the fundamental right of all Pennsylvania citizens to both be and feel safe from crime. Activities directed at community protection share the ultimate goal of preventing juvenile crime from occurring, thus sparing Pennsylvania citizens the psychological and physical injury that can result from crime victimization.

Community Service

Juveniles are assigned to work at a specified work site throughout the County for a specific amount of hours based on the seriousness of the offense. Community service may also be performed to pay restitution.

Consent Decree

The juvenile admits in full to their charges and is in need of greater supervision than the informal adjustment. The juvenile is placed under probation supervision for a period of six months, which can be extended for an additional six months, if necessary. This is an order of the Court as a Consent Decree is signed and approved by a Judge.

Continued

A hearing that has been rescheduled for another date.

Counsel and Release

Upon completion of an intake and an admission being entered, it is determined by the probation officer that no supervision is necessary in the case. This is generally used if it is a first and relatively minor offense. The probation officer counsels the juveniles and his/her family about what he/she has done. Sometimes, the probation officer may make an outside agency referral. This is not a frequently utilized disposition.

Court Appointed Attorney

The attorney that is appointed by the Court when there is a conflict of interest when two or more juveniles are charged as co-conspirators.

Court Ordered Probation

This is a period of supervision, the duration which is usually contingent on the juvenile's compliance.

DNA

The process in which fingerprints and salvia are collected and submitted to the PA State Police. This is required by the Commonwealth for all felony charges, including some sexual offenses.

Decertification

The process in which a juvenile is charged as an adult and is transferred from Criminal Court to Juvenile Court.

Delinquent Act

A crime committed by a juvenile.

Delinquent Child

A child ten years of age or older who the court has found to have committed a delinquent act and is in need of treatment, supervision or rehabilitation.

Detention Center

A temporary facility for a juvenile who has been charged with a serious crime or violation of probation and is believed to be a risk to themselves or the community.

Detention Hearing

A hearing to determine if the juvenile shall remain in detention due to their risk to the community or themselves.

Disposition

After finding that a juvenile is found delinquent on the acts alleged against him/her, the Court determines what form of treatment, supervision or rehabilitation the juvenile is in need of.

District Attorney

A lawyer who represents the Commonwealth.

Electronic Monitoring/GPS

Juveniles may be placed on electronic monitoring (ankle bracelet) by either Court Order or at the discretion of the supervising probation officer during the course of the juveniles' probation supervision period. House arrest is in lieu of secure detention and is used in cases where a juvenile is viewed a threat to the community and is usually a final option before removal from the home is considered by the Court. Juveniles on GPS are on a strict schedule and permitted to leave home only for school, counseling, and possibly employment. Violations of house arrest may result in secure detention. GPS is an enhanced level of supervision by the Lehigh County Juvenile Probation Department. Juveniles can be placed on GPS for violations of probation, as an alternative to detention, or as a graduated response.

Evidence-Based Practice

The application of evidence from sound research studies to inform decision-making within processes and systems. Such an approach is common within professions such as medicine, engineering, education, etc. During the past 30 years, a significant body of knowledge has been empirically established regarding which practices, interventions, and treatment approaches work most effectively to reduce recidivism with juvenile offenders.

Expungement

The process to dissolve the juvenile's record. Click here for Self Help

Felony

A grading used to indicate the most serious charges.

Hearing Officer

A Court appointed lawyer assigned to hear juvenile cases.

Informal Adjustment

An administratively enacted supervision, six months in length and usually has the least amount of conditions, but can be extended for three additional months.

Intake Interview

The first meeting with the juvenile and family to determine if the juvenile will admit or deny the alleged charges. The Intake Officer will assess the juvenile and gather information that will be used in forming a recommendation on how to proceed.

Juvenile Information Questionnaire

This form is used to gather information on the juvenile and family. This is required to be completed and brought to the Intake Interview.

Judge

The person who presides in a Court hearing and decides how the case should be handled.

Juvenile Act

State legislation that dictates the rules and regulations of the Juvenile Court. Typically this is the documentation that provides direction and outlines what may and may not occur within the Juvenile Justice System.

Juvenile Justice System Enhancement Strategy Mission Statement (JJSES)

We dedicate ourselves to working in partnership to enhance the capacity of Pennsylvania's juvenile justice system to achieve its balanced and restorative justice mission by employing evidence-based practices with fidelity at every stage of the juvenile justice process; collecting and analyzing the data necessary to measure the results of these efforts; and, with this knowledge, striving to continuously improve the quality of our decisions, services, and programs.

Juvenile Probation

It is the Court operated department that is responsible for handling all matters related to juvenile delinquency.

Miranda Rights

The right of a juvenile to remain silent in order to avoid self-incrimination and/or to have an attorney present during questioning.

Misdemeanor

A grading used to indicate the level of most charges and of a less serious nature than a Felony.

Non-Secure Placement

A residential facility for juveniles who are alleged or adjudicated delinquent that has unrestricted access throughout the building and its adjoining grounds.

Petition

A document for Court that lists the formal charges lodged against the juvenile

On Call Officer

A probation officer that is assigned to handle emergency calls or situations after hours.

Probation

A period of supervision, the duration of which is largely contingent upon the juvenile's compliance.

Probation Officer

The person assigned to supervise the juvenile and is responsible for making sure the juvenile completes all the conditions of probation.

Public Defender

A lawyer who represents the juvenile.

Residential Treatment Facility

A facility that deals with juveniles with mental health issues.

Restitution

Money a juvenile is ordered to pay the victim for "out of pocket" expenses.

Review of Placement Hearing

A hearing to determine if the juvenile needs to remain in placement or has completed treatment and can be released.

Secure Placement

A residential facility for juveniles who are alleged or adjudicated delinquent, that egress is prohibited by the use of internal or external locks. The premises may also have secure fencing around the perimeter of the building.

Summary

A grading used to indicate the least serious charges.

Teleconference

A hearing conducted via the telephone.

Terms and Conditions

A list of rules that the juvenile must follow while under probation supervision. Juveniles who are on probation sign conditions of probation and are provided with a copy. They are generally the same for all juveniles and outline the expectations that the Juvenile Probation Department has for them. They include, but are not limited to, obeying all laws; residing with a parent or guardian; attending school or GED program, be working, or seeking employment; keeping probation appointments; not leaving the state without permission from probation; not using alcoholic beverages, illegal drugs, or harmful substances; submitting to random urine testing; not possessing, using and/or carrying any firearms, knives, or weapons of any kind; and permitting the search of their person, property, or common areas in their homes.

Each juvenile is also given conditions that are specific to their particular needs or situations. These include, but are not limited to: curfew, no contact with victims or co-conspirators, Community Alternative Work Service, restitution, fines, court costs, counseling, testing/evaluations, and license suspensions.

The Rules of Juvenile Court Procedure

These rules govern delinquency proceedings in all Courts. The Rules establish uniform practice and procedure for Courts exercising jurisdiction as provided in the Juvenile Act.

Victim Advocate Unit

The needs and concerns of victims of juvenile crime are addressed by victim advocates and the juvenile probation officer assigned to the case.

Victim Restoration

Addresses the fact that crime can forever change its victim. The goal of victim restoration programs and services is to restore the victim(s), to the greatest extent possible, to their pre-crime status including but not limited to financial status and emotional and physical well-being.

Violation of Probation

Juveniles must be held accountable for infractions or violations of the conditions of probation. The probation officer has to determine if the infractions are minor or major which determines the degree to which the juvenile is held accountable. Some consequences of violations include, but are not limited to: a verbal reprimand, increased supervision, house arrest, additional community service hours, secure detention, and residential placement.

Waiver

A voluntary relinquishment or surrender of a known right or privilege.

Youth Level of Service/ Case Management Inventory (YLS/CMI)

A valid and reliable assessment instrument, designed to measure a youth's risks and needs. The results are used to determine appropriate levels of supervision, to establish measurable, case-specific goals, and to better allocate resources in order to achieve effective outcomes for juveniles, their families and communities.

Youth Redemption

Embodies the belief that the vast majority of offenders coming into the Commonwealth's juvenile justice system have strengths and are capable of change. Redemption requires that the juvenile accept responsibility for his or her actions and that the juvenile justice system and the community offer opportunities to promote positive change in the juvenile. As the juvenile offender accepts responsibility and works to restore the victim and the community, the offender can develop the skills necessary to become a productive worker, a capable and nurturing parent and a responsible citizen.

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