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Juvenile Court Glossary - Published and Distributed by Juvenile Section Common Pleas Court - Family Division
Posted by:Rocco--Monday, May 10, 2010

Juvenile Court Glossary

This glossary is provided so that people attending Juvenile Court hearings may have a better understanding of the language and proceedings they will hear and see. Should additional questions arise, please ask the Probation Officer or Victim Advocate assigned to your case for further information.

302 Commitment – This mental health proceeding forces an evaluation, which may place an individual in the hospital involuntarily for mental health observation and treatment. A Juvenile Court Judge instead of a Mental Health Officer may hear a “302” hearing when certain conditions apply.

Act 33 – A case wherein a defendant who is a juvenile by age, is charged as an adult because the crime alleged meets certain criteria.

Act 53 – The process by which a parent or guardian can petition the Court to declare their child to be in need of involuntary drug and/or alcohol treatment services.

Adjudication – That portion of the hearing wherein the judge or Hearing Officer determines if the juvenile committed the crime or any portion of the crime with which he or she is charged.

Aftercare – Upon release from residential placement, a period of strict supervision to closely monitor the juvenile’s adjustment back into the community.

Balanced and Restorative Justice – Balanced and Restorative Justice is the law in Pennsylvania. This law maintains that the Court process must include significant input from the victim at every level of the process, and takes into account public safety, offender accountability, and victim restoration.

Certification – The process by which a juvenile can be charged as an adult by transferring prosecution of an offense from Juvenile Court to Criminal Court.

Collections Department – Department within Juvenile Court that receives and documents all restitution payments. This department is also responsible for collecting and making sure victims receive all Court ordered monies.

Commitment – A Court ordered placement in either a residential or day treatment facility.

Community Intensive Supervision Project (CISP) – A community-based program that serves as an alternative to placement for male juvenile offenders between the ages of 10 and 18. All CISP youth are supervised, monitored, and held accountable 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Community Service – The performance of unpaid work, usually in a social service setting, aimed specifically at restoring the victim and community for the harm caused by a juvenile’s delinquent activity.

Consent Decree – An order of the Court which suspends the delinquent proceedings against the juvenile and places youth under voluntary supervision in his or her own home, under terms and conditions negotiated with the probation department and agreed to by all parties affected.

Continued Hearing – A case that is postponed or rescheduled to another date.

Court Appointed Attorney – Where an ethical conflict of interest exists for the Office of the Public Defender to represent a juvenile (such as when two or more juveniles are charged as co-defendants) the Judge will appoint additional defense attorney(s). These attorneys are called Conflict Attorneys because their appointment to the case resolves the conflict.

Court Clerk – The Court employee who is present during the Court proceedings whose purpose is to maintain the official papers and orders.

CYF Caseworker – Children, Youth, and Families is a County agency acting as an agent of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare. A CYF caseworker is the agency representative involved in dependency cases that deal with alleged abuse and/or neglect of children, or children who are beyond their parents control.

Day Treatment Program – A Court ordered placement into the community that provides rehabilitative treatment for juveniles during the day and evening hours.

De-certification – The process by which a juvenile charged as an adult can be transferred from Criminal Court to Juvenile Court for prosecution of an offense.

Disposition – What the judge orders to happen to the juvenile at the end of the hearing.

District Attorney (DA) – A lawyer who, as the prosecutor, represents the Commonwealth and speaks for the victim. A DA is assigned to most cases automatically.

District Office – A Juvenile Probation Office located in the community.

Felony – A legal term used to define the most serious offenses.

Hearing Officer – Also known as a “Master”, a Hearing Officer is an attorney appointed by the Court who is authorized, under the Juvenile Act, to conduct delinquency and dependency hearings. Hearing Officers’ decisions can be appealed to a Juvenile Court Judge.

Judge – Determines adjudications of dependency and delinquency and determines dispositions.

Juvenile Act – State legislation that dictates the rules and regulations of Juvenile Court

Misdemeanor – A legal term used to define most offenses.

No Contact Order – A Court order which states that the juvenile is not permitted to have contact with a specific person(s). Contact is not permitted in person, by telephone, fax, e-mail, letter, etc. Most of these orders state that neither the juvenile nor the juvenile’s family or friends be permitted to have any contact with the victim(s) and witnesses.

Non-Secure Placement – A residential facility, which provides treatment and rehabilitation while affording juveniles the opportunity to participate in community service projects, and activities on and off grounds.

Permission to Place – The Judge orders permission to investigate residential programs for the juvenile.

Petition – The official document, which contains the formal statement of charges against the juvenile.

Petition Hearing – A Court hearing where testimony is taken regarding charges against the juvenile.

Probation – When a juvenile defendant is found by the Court to be delinquent (guilty) of a crime, and is ordered to be under supervision of a Probation Officer. The conditions (rules) imposed by the Judge and probation department must be followed.

Probation Officer (PO) – Neutral Court staff officer who supervises a juvenile during his or her probationary period or other Court ordered supervision (such as Consent Decree, placement, day treatment, etc.) and who enforce the terms and conditions imposed by the Judge and the probation department.

Public Defender (PD) – A lawyer who represents juvenile offenders who are unable to afford a private attorney.

Residential Treatment Facility (RTF) – These specialized facilities treat delinquent issues when a mental health diagnosis is also present.

Restitution – Any money that a juvenile offender is ordered to pay to his or her victim(s). Restitution is frequently ordered to repay victims for any out of pocket losses that occurred solely as a result of the juvenile’s delinquent act(s).

Review by Memo –The Probation Officer submits a report to the Judge outlining and updating the juvenile’s progress and compliance with the Judges last order. No attendance is necessary.

Review Hearing – Hearing to review the status of a case.
School Based Probation Officer – Probation Officer assigned to provide Court supervision to all juveniles active with the Court and attending a specific school.

Secure Placement – A residential facility which provides treatment and rehabilitation. Restrictions are imposed to monitor a juvenile's every action.
Secure facilities are equipped with various devices, such as fences, locked exits, and entrances, to ensure that juveniles are unable to leave the facility.

Sequester – Witnesses are asked to leave the courtroom while other(s) testify.

Sheriff’s Deputy – The deputies are in charge of security for the entire Court House, and handle all medical emergencies until the paramedics arrive. Deputies at Juvenile Court provide security for the Court Rooms and the Public. Deputies also provide transportation for detained youth as ordered by the Court.

Side Bar – Conversation at the Judges desk that takes place during the hearing between only the Judge, the defense attorney and the District Attorney. The Probation Officer is also expected to participate.

Special Services Unit (SSU) – A division within the Juvenile Probation department that addresses the special treatment needs of sex offenders.

Status Offense – Behaviors which are not a summary, misdemeanor, or felony, and which are only misbehaviors if committed by juveniles. These offenses are usually handled by a District Justice, or CYF but can be handled by Juvenile Court when certain conditions are present. These offenses include truancy, running away from home, underage drinking, curfew violations and the like.

Summary – A summary offense is usually of a minor nature, and normally carries a less serious penalty, such as fine or community service. The District Justice usually handles summary offenses, but these can be handled by Juvenile Court when certain conditions are present. Additionally, the District Justice can refer the case to Juvenile Court if the youth fails to comply with the sentence.

Teleconference – A review hearing conducted by telephone when a juvenile is in residential placement.

The Academy – A day/evening community based program that serves as an alternative to placement for delinquent males and females between the ages of 10 and 18. Juveniles committed to the program participate in a variety of treatment groups and attend academic and GED preparation, as well as vocational skill building.

Tipstaff – The Court Staff member who is responsible for the orderly flow of cases through the Judge’s courtroom.

Victim Advocate – A social service worker who supports and assists victims, witnesses and their families through the Court process by addressing questions and concerns, attending court with them and providing additional services, as needed.

Victim Compensation Fund – A state fund to assist victims who have sustained a financial loss as a direct result of a crime. A mandatory cost against the juvenile is imposed whenever a juvenile is adjudicated delinquent or receives a Consent Decree disposition.

Violation of Probation (VOP)or Violation of Conditions of Supervision – When a juvenile under court supervision breaks their rules.

Waiver – Agreeing to give up certain rights.

Warrant – A Court Order authorizing arrest and secure detention of the juvenile.

Youth Development Center (YDC) – Secure residential facility operated by the state.

Juvenile Court Glossary - Revised 12/09
Published and Distributed by Juvenile Section Common Pleas Court - Family Division

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