Trials / Adjudications

If a case is placed on the formal calendar, a trial (also known as an adjudication) may be scheduled. At trial, a juvenile has several rights, such as the right to an attorney, to demand a jury trial, and to demand that a judge (rather than a referee) preside over the proceedings. The juvenile will also be given the opportunity to enter a plea. If the juvenile pleads not guilty, the prosecutor has the burden of proving—beyond a reasonable doubt—that the juvenile violated the law or laws alleged in the petition.

During the trial, the prosecutor will present witnesses first, and the juvenile, through an attorney, has the right to question, or “cross examine,” these witnesses. Once the prosecutor has presented his or her case, it is then the juvenile’s opportunity, through an attorney, to call witnesses to testify on his or her behalf; however, it is important to note that a juvenile, like an adult defendant, is not required to present any witnesses, or to personally testify, as it is the prosecutor who has the burden to prove that the allegations in the petition are true.

If the prosecutor fails to prove—beyond a reasonable doubt—that the juvenile committed the alleged crime or crimes, the juvenile will be found not guilty; however, if the prosecutor did prove his or her case, the juvenile will be found guilty and the case will proceed to the dispositional phase, which is covered in an upcoming segment. Remember, however, that the juvenile does have the right to timely appeal the decision made by the referee, judge, or jury.