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  • Writer's pictureLisa Maria Grigley

Key Players in Juvenile Delinquency Court

This post is intended to be part one of an overview of juvenile delinquency court in North Carolina and should not be considered a substitution for legal advice.

First and foremost, the goal of delinquency court is restorative. That means that the goal of the judge, ADA and court counselor should be to help fix the issues that brought the juvenile to court in the first place, while protecting the community from further acts of delinquency. The role of the juvenile defense attorney is a little different due to ethical rules, but we'll get to that in a minute. Key players in the courtroom include the judge, the ADA, the court counselor and the juvenile defense attorney. The judge presides over the court room, and makes determinations of both law and fact. There is no right to a jury. This means that all decisions will be made by the judge, unless the ADA and defense attorney come to an agreement and ask the judge to accept it. The ADA, or Assistant District Attorney, represents the State of North Carolina. They may advocate for a victim's rights, but they do not represent the victim. The court counselor works directly with the juvenile and their family. This could include things like setting up therapeutic services, monitoring house arrest through a GPS bracelet, or conducting drug testing. The court counselor's office is also a gate keeper into the system. They decide whether charges should be brought up (by filing a petition), or if the juvenile should be diverted from court by entering another program. Finally, the defense attorney advocates for the juvenile, and expresses their wishes to the court. While the defense attorney give the juvenile advice and recommendations outside of court, ultimately, they must advocate for the juvenile's expressed interests. It is important to note that the juvenile defense attorney does not represent the juvenile's parents or other family members, although the juvenile may give the attorney permission to freely discuss a case with parents.

Check back next month for the second post in this series - Juvenile Delinquency Terminology.

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