First and foremost Utah’s Juvenile Courts are courts of record where all things involving minor children occur. This can be child welfare proceedings in the Provo Juvenile court, Juvenile criminal charges or being charged as an adult.
Generally local County Juvenile Courts are co-located with the adult District Court, but they do not share judges or courtrooms. Just normally in the same building. Juvenile Court Judges are different than Utah District Court Judges and do not handle the wider array of cases that a sitting District Court Judge will handle.
Utah County Juvenile Courts are located in Spanish Fork, Provo, Orem, and American Fork.
The general rule is that if you are under 18 years old and allegedly commit a crime your juvenile allegations will be handled in a Utah Juvenile court. If you are under 21 years old and allegedly commit a crime before your turned 18 year old, then you can still be adjudicated in Juvenile Court. See the Utah Juvenile Court Act, Utah Code Ann. 78A-6-103 (2019).
Here is a fairly exhaustive list of juvenile law matters that are handled in Utah’s Juvenile Courts.
Delinquency. In Juvenile Court, criminal convictions are called “adjudications” and criminal justice is call “Delinquency.” Utah juvenile law treats minor children differently than the adult system. Technically juvenile adjudications are NOT criminal convictions. See Utah Code Ann. 78A-6-116 (2019).
Juvenile Felonies. Matters are would be Felonies in the adult system, if committed while a minor child, are often handled in the Utah’s Juvenile Courts.
Juvenile Misdemeanors. Matters that would be Misdemeanors in the adult system, if committed while a minor child, are often handled in the Utah’s Juvenile Courts. Common Juvenile Misdemeanors are Theft, Assault & Battery, Truancy, Criminal Mischief, Domestic Violence, Vandalism, etc.
NonJudicial Adjustments. The heart of Non-Judicial Adjustments are for minor offenses where a specially trained juvenile probation officer talk to the minor child and comes up with a plan to correct the delinquent behavior. No conviction ever enters and no admission of guilt is needed.
The Utah Statute providing for NonJudicial Adjustments can be founder HERE:
Qualifications for Utah Juvenile Court nonjudicial adjustments:
(i) Only a misdemeanor, infraction, or status offense;
(ii) The child has no more than two prior adjudications; and
(iii) has no more than three prior unsuccessful nonjudicial adjustment attempts.
Conditions for Utah Juvenile Court nonjudicial adjustments are:
(i) payment of a financial penalty of not more than $250 to the juvenile court subject to the terms established under Subsection (2)(f);
(ii) payment of victim restitution;
(iii) satisfactory completion of community or compensatory service;
(iv) referral to an appropriate provider for counseling or treatment;
(v) attendance at substance use disorder programs or counseling programs;
(vi) compliance with specified restrictions on activities and associations;
(vii) victim-offender mediation, if requested by the victim; and
(viii) other reasonable actions that are in the interest of the child or minor, the community, and the victim.
Abortion Bypass. Utah law and the Constitution of the United States of America require that all minors be allowed to receive an abortion without the consent of their parents.
Utah R. Juv. P. 60 (2019) details the procedure for minors to receive abortions and how they are entitled to an attorney and/or Guardian Ad Litem to help them through the process. Bypass proceedings allow for expedited Juvenile Court hearings.
Incorrigibility (UnControllable Kids). Incorrigibility, Runaway Children or Ungovernable Children cases are filed in Utah’s Juvenile Courts by petition from the concerned party. Thereafter the Juvenile Judge uses the powers of the Utah Juvenile Court to govern the child through various mechanisms available to the Juvenile Judge.
Juvenile Court Adoptions. When parental rights are terminated in the Juvenile Court, often a subsequent adoption occurs in the same Utah Juvenile Court. Pursuant to Utah R. Juv. P. 49 (2019), the Utah Juvenile Judge shall follow the Utah Adoption Act which is found at Utah Code Ann. 78B-6-101 et seq (2019). Other adoptions classical occur in the Utah District Court.
Child Welfare. Beyond the scope of this article, Utah Child Welfare law is vast, complicated, and difficult to win and an area of law where you don’t want to find yourself.
Termination of Parental Rights. A subpart of Utah’s child welfare law, termination of parental rights is the end stage of permanently taking away your child forever under the force of the government. Termination of parental occurs most often in cases of severely physical abuse, sexual abuse or where the parents are unrecoverable drug addicts. Again, Utah’s termination of parental rights law is vast, difficult to win and complicated. A place you don’t want to be.
Child Protective Orders. In Utah County, child protective orders are heard by the Juvenile Court Commissioner. In other Utah counties, the sitting Juvenile Judge hears Utah child protection orders. These hearings are generally not little bench trials, but proffered testimony from the parties about what occurred and why a child protection hearing is needed. Proffered testimony means that the party or attorney simple tells the Juvenile Court Judge what that witness would say, if that witness was to take the witness stand under oath.
Utah R. Juv. P. 37 (2019) governs Utah child protection orders along with Utah Code Ann. 78B-7-201 (2019). The evidentiary standard for a Utah child protection order is: “If the court determines, based on a preponderance of the evidence, that the minor is being abused or is in imminent danger of being abused, the court shall enter a child protective order.”
Child Protection Orders Lawyer—There are Collateral Consequences—Hire Juvenile Defense Lawyer Jake Gunt
er NOW at(801) 373-6345.
Often there is interplay between child custody disputed filed concurrently in the District Court and child protection petitions filed in Utah Juvenile Courts. Further there can be criminal collateral consequences when child makes statements under oath while defending themselves in child protection order hearings that impact their concurrently pending juvenile delinquency or adult criminal matters. Care should always be taken when making statements under oath.
Utah Juvenile Appeals. Juvenile justice, child welfare and termination of parental rights to name a few have expedited and shortened appellate timelines. You should talk to a Utah juvenile criminal defense attorney immediately if you are facing a possible appeal.
Utah Code Ann. 78A-6-1109 (2019) details the exact deadlines to appeal juvenile delinquency, child welfare, termination of parental rights and adoptions that occur in a Utah Juvenile Court.
Substantiation Hearings and Findings. Sometimes a full-fledged child welfare case is not initiated against you, yet instead the Division of Child and Family Services (“DCFS”) investigates you and make findings of abuse. Abuse substantiation findings are lodged permanently on a central registry for child abusers that is differently the publically viewable Child Abuse Registry.
A substantiated finding that places you on the internal DCFS child abuse registry is permanent and effects your ability to work with children or adopt children. If you are being investigated by DCFS the best action plan you can do is not to talk to them and hire a DCFS defense attorney. Often DCFS will swoop in, and interview your child at school without your consent, or act like any noncooperation will result in your arrest, which simply is not true.
Juvenile drug offense lawyers.
Juvenile In-Residence Commitments. When minor juvenile children have serious substance abuse problems, only a Juvenile Court can commit minor juvenile children to drug and alcohol in-residence rehabilitations facilities. See Utah Code Ann. 78A-6-103 (2019).
Emancipation of a Minor. Emancipation is a big legal word for making a minor juvenile child who is under the age of 18 years old become a legal adult for many normal adult functions. Emancipation allows a minor child under 18 years old to:
(i) enter into contracts;
(ii) buy and sell property;
(iii) sue or be sued;
(iv) retain his or her own earnings;
(v) borrow money for any purpose, including for education; and
(vi) obtain healthcare without parental consent.
Emancipation does NOT consider an emancipated minor child to be considered an adult:
(i) under the criminal laws of the state unless the requirements of Part 7, Transfer of Jurisdiction, have been met [Still Under Juvenile Court Jurisdiction for Juvenile Crimes]
(ii) under the criminal laws of the state when he or she is a victim and the age of the victim is an element of the offense; [Still a Minor for Sex Crimes Purposes] and,
(iii) for specific constitutional and statutory age requirements regarding voting, use of alcoholic beverages, possession of tobacco or firearms, and other health and safety regulations relevant to the minor because of the minor’s age. [Still can’t vote, but can go to war at 18 years old]
See Utah Code Ann. 78A-6-103 (2019).
Mentally Ill Children—Treatment and Commitment. Children who are mentally ill from birth, or late on-set mental illness who need in-residence mental health treatment and commitment are provided for under the Utah Juvenile Act (2019). Sometimes minor juvenile children are incompetent to proceed in the juvenile delinquency charges against them. The psychological determinations of whether and what process is followed to determine whether a juvenile is incompetent to proceeds are found at Utah Code Ann. 78A-6-1301 (2019). The same ideas of adult incompetency to proceed apply to juvenile incompetency to proceed hearings.
Children Disabled from Birth—Treatment and Commitment. Some children are disabled from birth, either physically or mentally, rendering them unfortunately difficult to parent. The Utah Juvenile Court has exclusive rights to handle the treatment and residential commitment of disabled minor children. See Utah Code Ann. 78A-6-103 (2019).
Underage Juvenile Marriages. Here minor children or their parents can seek the judicial consent to the marriage of a child under age 16 upon a determination of voluntariness or where otherwise required by law, employment, or enlistment of a child when consent is required by law. See Utah Code Ann. 78A-6-103 (2019).
Juvenile DUI. Driving Under 21 DUIs.
Utah’s Juvenile Court has exclusive jurisdiction for minor DUIs’ unless they are charged as an adult. Minor juvenile DUIs have very severe licensing sanctions are constantly being adjusted by the Legislature. Saving or mitigating your child’s licensing sanction can have a huge impact as he enters college or starts working.
Utah Juvenile Offenses that Suspend a Minor’s License.
Whenever a juvenile is caught with drugs, alcohol or a DUI, a close reading of the statute to determine the suspension period is essential. Utah Code Ann. 78A-6-606 (2019) and Utah Code Ann 53-3-219 (2019) are the key statute to read regarding how to keep your license, how long you lose your Utah juvenile driving license for and how to mitigate the suspension period.
The following are the basics of when a Utah juvenile delinquency adjudications can suspend a minor’s driver’s license. The court may reduce a suspension period imposed under Section 53-3-219 if the violation is the minor’s first violation of:
(i) Section 32B-4-409 Unlawful Purchase, Possession, Consumption by Minor. 1 Year Suspension. 2 years for second time offenders.
(ii) Section 32B-4-410 Unlawful Admittance or Attempt to Gain Admittance by Minor to Bar. 1 Year Suspension. 2 years for second time offenders.
(iii) Section 58-37-8 Controlled Substance Act. 6 Months if Operating a Vehicle at the Time of Arrest.
(iv) Title 58, Chapter 37a, Utah Drug Paraphernalia Act. 6 Months if Operating a Vehicle at the Time of Arrest.
(v) Title 58, Chapter 37b, Imitation Controlled Substances Act. 6 Months if Operating a Vehicle at the Time of Arrest.
(vi) 76-9-701(1) Public Intoxication.
(vii) DUI. Complicated and close read is always in order.
For First Time Offenders for minor in possession of alcohol the Juvenile Court Judge can stay the license suspension if the minor child (A) completes an alcohol educational class or demonstrates substantial progress in their substance abuse treatment program.
For Second Time Offenders of minor in possession of alcohol the above code sections the court may reduce the licensing suspension if the minor child (A) completes an alcohol educational class or demonstrates substantial progress in their substance abuse treatment program AND (B) provide a sworn statement that they have had at least one consecutive year of not consuming illegal drugs or alcohol.
Parental Liability for Minor Juvenile’s Property Destruction.
As a Utah parent, you can be legally liable for property damages up to $2,000 if your child is at-fault.
It is up to $5,000 if your child’s Utah property damage is gang related. The mechanism is that your child pleads guilty to the juvenile property damage crime and the court orders the parent to pay restitution to the damaged property owner. Juvenile Restitution, like adult restitution is not dischargeable in Bankruptcy and will bar your child from any future juvenile expungement if the restitution is not paid off.
There is an exception to joint liability for property damage with your children if you tried your best to restrain your child and judges makes these findings on the records for good cause. See Utah Code Ann. 78A-6-1113 (2019) for all the details.
Adult Contempt of Court Proceedings in Juvenile Court.
Further a Utah Juvenile Court can hold the parent in Contempt of Court who willfully fails or refuses to produce the minor in court in response to a summons or order of the court. Failure to appear as the adult parent in the Juvenile Court can incur a bench warrant to issue for the parent’s arrest. See Utah R. Juv. P. 39 (2019). See also Utah Code Ann. 78A-6-1101 (2019).
Juvenile Justice Services. Juvenile Justice Services refers to helping Utah juveniles convicted of juvenile offense rehabilitate. Juvenile Justice Services is the adult criminal probationary services equivalent of Adult Probation & Parole. Except the mission of Juvenile Justice Services is drastically different than servicing the adult criminal population.
Utah Juvenile Justice Laws and Resources.
Juvenile Expungements. Just like Utah adults, juveniles are entitled to expunge their Utah juvenile records. The Utah Code governing Utah Juvenile Expungements is found at Utah Code Ann. 78A-6-1105 (2019).
What does a Juvenile Expungement Mean?
Expunging a juvenile record does not change the juvenile’s history, but greatly helps that juvenile as he transitions into being an adult. Expunging a Utah juvenile record means that the Juvenile Court orders the juvenile’s criminal records be sealed from the public eye. Private newspapers accounts of the incidents or people’s memories are not sealed and can still be found and disclosed.
Your Juvenile Expungement Attorney must put all possible Utah governmental agencies on notice of the Order of Expungement from the Juvenile Judge. If the agency does not have notice of the expungement, it will not seal the records.
After a proper Utah Juvenile Expungement, that agency will report back to requesting non governmental party that the records DO NOT EXIST.
What is the Criteria for Expunging a Utah Juvenile Conviction (Adjudication)?
First RECORDs mean more than just the juvenile conviction/adjudication. It means the Utah juvenile arrest records and the Utah Juvenile Court records, fingerprints and documents.
A Utah Juvenile Court may waive these requirements if the Utah Juvenile Court finds that waiver is appropriate.
Bars and Limits to Utah Juvenile Expungements.
A Utah Juvenile Court CANNOT expunge a juvenile record if:
Restitution has not been paid. This is huge as that your Utah juvenile defense attorney must ensure that you have the capacity to pay off all fines and restitution because if you don’t pay off your Juvenile Court ordered restitution, you will not be eligible for a Juvenile Court Expungement. Your Juvenile Court criminal conviction case will be closed unsuccessfully.
Do you need an experienced juvenile defense lawyer?
Hiring an effective Utah County juvenile defense lawyer can make the difference between licensing sanctions and having a juvenile records. Call Juvenile defense attorney Jake Gunter for a free consultation at(801) 373-6345 or TXT.