Mission of the Juvenile Justice Unit
The primary mission of the Juvenile Justice Unit is to represent the State's position in the Family Court, specifically, where individuals under the age of 18 are charged with an act of juvenile delinquency. While the assigned prosecutor is always present at formal court hearings, where the juvenile must be represented by counsel due to exposure to the risk of incarceration, the prosecutor is also available for informal court hearings and will appear upon request of the Family Court.
Secondary functions involve the prescreening of all juvenile complaints, and appearances at detention hearings. Moreover, appearances at all second and probable cause detention hearings are required.
Functional Aspects of the Juvenile Justice Unit
Initially the assistant prosecutor reviews each complaint that is received by the Family Court Intake Unit. This involves the review of the complaint and the accompanying police reports, thus ensuring that the statutory citations are accurate and the legal requisites of the complaint are met.
Depending on the seriousness of the offense committed and the juvenile's prior involvement with the court system, the matter may be referred to a family intake conference, informal or formal court calendar. The assistant prosecutor appears at detention hearings and is an active participant in each. The State's detention recommendation is made following a review of the case including consultation with probation personnel, Division of Youth and Family Services, law enforcement personnel and/or civilian witnesses and victims. Other considerations include the juvenile's threat of harm to himself or others and the threat to others' property.
Other responsibilities include advising law enforcement personnel of mandatory juvenile investigative and disclosure procedures. When authorized by the County Prosecutor the assigned Assistant Prosecutor speaks on juvenile justice issues before the general public, educational and special interest groups, attends relevant seminars and conferences and sits on various committees focusing on juvenile accountability and treatment issues. Moreover the juvenile prosecutor may be called upon to prepare legal briefs and memoranda as needed in any juvenile matter.