The Juvenile Department: What Goes Through This Court

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The Juvenile Department: What Goes Through This Court

There are many common misconceptions about the juvenile court system. Many assume that the juvenile court only deals with delinquent children. However, there are many programs and types of cases that run through the juvenile court, including adoption and custody cases. Here are a few examples of what the juvenile court handles.

Cases for the Juvenile Court

According to the Maricopa County Juvenile Department, they are working toward establishing a crime-free county, where each child has the potential to live in a safe and supportive environment. This department covers many different cases, all related to children (minors under 18).


In regards to juveniles, the term emancipation refers to the termination of parental rights, making the minor (aged 16 or 17) fully responsible for their own care. This is a petition that must be presented to the court and decided by a judge.


The process of legally adding non-biological children to a family is called adoption. These cases include adoptions from foster care as well as private adoptions. The also include the adoption of children by the non-biological parents of a same-sex couple. 


This term refers to a child (8 or younger) that is fully dependent on the care of an adult, but whose parents are not able or willing to provide the care they need. The child may be brought into the foster care system, or placed in the care of other family members. 

Court-Appointed Special Advocates

These CASA volunteers are appointed a child (or group of siblings) by a judge. They will act as this child(ren)’s advocate during their time within the juvenile court system. 

Guardianship and Custody

Cases regarding guardianship and custody can also be petitioned through this court. Guardianship refers to a non-parent seeking parental rights. Custody may be one or both parents seeking more or less access to their children.


This title applies to both incorrigible children (runaways) and delinquent children (a child who commits a criminal act). These cases are often very involved and have a process of judgment that is separate from the process for trying an adult. Along with their own process, Arizona also allows minors with certain offenses to expunge their record when they turn 18. 

Process of a Delinquency Case

If a child between the ages of 8 and 18 commits a crime, they will go through the Juvenile Department for the entirety of their case. There are many different steps that must be taken for a minor to be sent to a juvenile detention center. There is a thorough investigation, the right to consult with a lawyer, a hearing, and finally the judgment or dismissal of the case. 

Children Could be Sent to A Correctional Facility Rather Than Prison or Jail

No matter the age of the child being tried for a delinquency case, a judgment may include time to be served in a juvenile detention or correctional facility. These facilities differ from prison or jail, as they are designed for children to continue their education, as well as their rehabilitation. 

Children Aged 14-18 May Be Charged as Adults

There are only a few exceptions when a child could be charged as an adult. In these cases, there must be ample evidence, and the prosecution must petition to have the minor charged and tried as an adult.

  • First or second-degree murder
  • Armed robbery
  • Foriceable sexual assault 
  • Violent offenses (drive-by shootings)


Call a Maricopa County Criminal Defense Attorney 

Having an amazing lawyer at your side during a juvenile delinquency trial will help you secure the best outcome for your case. Todd Coolidge has over 25 years of criminal defense experience, making him the best in the business. Take a step in the right direction—contact Todd Coolidge Law Firm today for a consultation.



Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (12/16/22). Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash.