Understanding Your Defense
You and Your Attorney
Being accused of a crime does not mean that you are guilty. It means that you are going to have to work closely with your attorney as your case moves through the juvenile justice system to get the best possible result for you.
Just what is a “Public Advocate“? A Public Advocate is an attorney who works in juvenile court. He or she graduated from an ABA accredited law school, has passed the Arizona bar exam, and has a license to practice law the same as any other attorney in the state. Public Advocates are trained carefully through our office’s training program. In addition, they go to local and national conferences to keep themselves current in the law and to keep their skills sharp.
Please remember — Do NOT discuss your case with anyone except your attorney or our office staff. Do not discuss your case with a police officer ,probation officer or even your family — tell them to talk to your attorney about the case. Anything you say to the police, probation, family members or others could be used against you in court. Always remember that you and your attorney are partners working for the best possible result for you.
Other Helpful Tips
It takes time, sometimes several months, for a case to move through the courts. During that time, it is extremely important for you to keep in touch with your attorney and to make all court appearances until your attorney tells you that your case is over.
You can help your attorney by doing the following things:
- Be on time for court and other legal appointments.
- Give your attorney your home address, and your home, cell and message phone numbers. Let your attorney know if any of these change.
- Give your attorney a list of witnesses as soon as possible.
- Give your attorney any relevant documents.
- Wear proper clothes to court.
The Courts and Your Case
The advisory hearing is your first hearing in juvenile court. At this appearance you will be:
- Informed of your charges.
- Appointed an attorney.
- Given your release conditions.
- Given your next court date and court location.
Pre-Adjudication Conference/ Detention Review
Some cases in juvenile court are set for a Pre-adjudication conference or Detention Review. A Pre-adjudication conference is a hearing before a judge where you and your attorney will discuss your case with the prosecutor to determine if the prosecutor will make you a plea offer. (A plea offer is where the prosecutor agrees to reduce or dismiss charges if you agree to admit to the offense rather than have an adjudication). If a plea offer is made and you would like to accept the offer you may admit to the charge at the pre-adjudication conference. Please remember you do not have to accept the plea offer, you have the right to have an adjudication. If you choose to have an adjudication the judge will give you the adjudication date at this hearing.
Juveniles who are detained may have a Detention Review Hearing. A Detention Review is where the judge considers releasing a juvenile from the detention center to his or her home or other placement. If the juvenile is released the judge will give the juvenile release conditions, rules that must be followed while the juvenile is out of detention. Standard release conditions are attend school or work, obey all laws, participate is counseling if ordered, submit to drug testing and obey your parents. The judge may add any rules he or she thinks is necessary to ensure the juvenile does not commit a new crime and comes back for future court hearings.
An adjudication is a court proceeding where the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime charged. Your attorney will have an opportunity to cross-examine the prosecutor’s witnesses and to present witnesses and evidence to tell your story. At adjudication you have the right to remain silent, that means you do not have to testify unless you want to. No one can force you to testify. You and your attorney will discuss whether you should testify prior to the adjudication. After all the witnesses have testified and the attorneys have made closing arguments the judge will decide whether the state has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the offense. If the judge finds that the state did not prove the charge, the case is dismissed (over) and you are free to leave. If the judge finds that the state has proven the charge you will be found delinquent and he will set a disposition hearing.
If you enter into a plea agreement or if you go to trial and are found delinquent , you will have a disposition date set approximately thirty to forty-five days later. Before the disposition date, your parents will receive a social-history form from the probation officer. The probation officer will use this information to prepare a report for the judge prior to your disposition hearing. The judge will use the probation officer's report to help determine what consequences you should receive for your delinquent conduct.. As a consequence for your delinquent act the judge may:
- Place you on summary probation.
- Place you on standard probation.
- Place you on juvenile intensive probation.
- Place you at a residential treatment center.
- Commit you to the Department of Juvenile Corrections until your eighteenth birthday.
In addition to these consequences the judge may suspend your ability to drive, require drug and alcohol testing, community service and/or restitution.
Restitution is paying a victim for any damage or loss of property or income you caused by your criminal activity.