THE ALABAMA REDEEMER ACT

New Alabama Expungement Law Passes

Allows Expungement of Felony and Misdemeanor Convictions

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Alabama Juvenile Court Case Procedure

Alabama Juvenile Court Case Procedure – Part I

An Alabama juvenile court case may begin when a law enforcement officer, parent, relative, or neighbor who knows that a juvenile has committed a delinquent act, or that a juvenile is in need of supervision, or his dependent, files a complaint in juvenile court.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER A COMPLAINT IS FILED IN AN ALABAMA JUVENILE COURT CASE?

A juvenile intake officer will review the complaint and decide whether a formal petition should be filed with the court to start an Alabama juvenile court case. The intake officer will also notify the juvenile’s parents that the juvenile is at juvenile court in cases where the juvenile has been detained by law enforcement.

The intake officer will also advise the child and the child’s parents of their rights, including the right to have an attorney present at all proceedings.

The intake officer also makes a determination as to whether the child should be released back into the custody of their parents, or placed in a juvenile detention facility, or in the case of a dependent child or a child in need of supervision, whether the child shall be placed in the care of the Department of Human Resources. When a juvenile is placed with the Department of Human Resources it is referred to as “shelter care.”

The Juvenile Court may make the parents or the guardian of the child a party to the juvenile court proceedings. This means that the parent or guardian may be required to pay attorney’s fees, fines, court cost, restitution, or other costs or fees. This also means that the Juvenile Court can require the parent or guardian to do such things as attend parenting classes or counseling, or any other action or activity which is deemed to be in the best interest of the juvenile.

IF A CHILD IS DETAINED, WHEN WILL A HEARING BE HELD?

If a child is detained by law enforcement, a hearing must be held within seventy-two (72) hours. At this hearing, the juvenile court judge will determine whether the child should remain in detention or in shelter care or be released to the custody of his or her parents or guardians.

WHAT DOES THE TERM “INFORMAL ADJUSTMENT” MEAN IN CONNECTION WITH AN ALABAMA JUVENILE COURT CASE?

In Alabama juvenile court cases where there is sufficient evidence to bring the child within the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court, the intake officer may decide to withhold the filing of the formal petition with the court, and instead make satisfactory “informal adjustments” as opposed to bring a formal court proceeding. This can only be done with the consent of the child and parents or guardian.

In an informal adjustment, the juvenile and parents or guardian must consent to counseling by the intake officer, or some other appropriate counselor which could include the juvenile court judge. In addition the child and parents or guardians may consent to a temporary placement someone other than the parent or guardian for a period not to exceed six months.

In this case,  the intake officer has the option of terminating the informal adjustment process and dismissing the child without any further proceedings, or if the informal adjustment process is not successful, terminating the informal adjustment process and filing a formal petition with the court.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN WHEN A CONSENT DECREE IS ENTERED IN AN ALABAMA JUVENILE COURT CASE?

In cases of delinquency or a child in need of supervision, before the entry of an order adjudicating the child delinquent or in need of supervision the juvenile court may suspend proceedings and allow the child to be supervised under certain special conditions. This is known as a consent decree. A consent decree is an agreement between the juvenile, the parents or guardian, and the judge, which may be entered into after the child and parents or guardians identifies of their rights. The case is temporarily suspended in the juvenile was placed on probation for a period of six months under the terms and conditions agreed upon by the parties and ordered by the judge.

If the juvenile fails to abide by the terms and conditions of the consent decree, the petition will be reinstated and the case will proceed.  If a consent decree is not entered into by all the parties, including the child, the juvenile case will be set for an adjudicatory hearing.

WHAT HAPPENS AT AN ALABAMA JUVENILE COURT CASE TRIAL?

All Alabama juvenile court case trials are heard by Judge without a jury. Additionally all juvenile cases are close to the public in the records of a juvenile case are considered to be confidential, and may not be disclosed to anyone other than the juvenile, the juvenile’s attorney, the juvenile’s parents, the District Attroney, the victims of any offense, a probation officer, and in dependency cases a representative of the Department of Human Resources.

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