Juvenile Delinquency & PINS Proceedings

A “juvenile delinquent” is a person over 7 and younger than 16 years of age who has committed an act that would constitute a crime if committed by an adult, but who is not criminally responsible for such conduct by reason of age. Given the nature of such actions, however, a juvenile delinquent may still be held responsible for such conduct through a juvenile delinquency proceeding in Family Court.

The procedures involved in a juvenile delinquency proceeding can be complex and the implications extensive and far-reaching, with results ranging from conditional discharge, to probation, to placement in a youth detention facility. The Family Court may also order restitution or repayment of any damages incurred as a result of the child’s actions.

A PINS (Person In Need of Supervision) Petition is a request to the Family Court, seeking formal judicial assistance with the supervision of any child who is under 18 years of age. Such judicial assistance may be requested by a school district if the child does not attend school as required by law, or by a parent, guardian, law enforcement agency or social agency having difficulties controlling the behavior of a child who is deemed “incorrigible, ungovernable or habitually disobedient and beyond the lawful control” of the parents or other lawful authority.

The results of a PINS can be as mild as a judicial warning to the child but, depending on the severity of the circumstances, the court can also order that the child be taken out of his or her home (even over the objections of the child’s parents and even if the parents have initiated the proceeding) and placed in a secured detention facility. Consequently, while a PINS proceeding can provide much-needed assistance with the supervision and control of an unmanageable child, it is a very serious matter.

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