Adjudicatory Hearing (Trial)
The actual trial in juvenile cases is called the adjudicatory hearing. At the adjudicatory hearing, the judge determines whether the facts as stated in the petition or warrant are true. The judge may temporarily postpone a case to allow all parties time to obtain a lawyer or for any other reason needed to have a fair trial. Persons accused of crimes or delinquency have the following rights at the adjudicatory hearing:
- The right to be represented by a lawyer to the extent provided by law.
- The right to have witnesses to appear on their behalf.
- The right to subpoena (to require to come to court) witnesses to appear.
- The right to confront and cross-examine (question) witnesses testifying against them (accusers).
- The right against self-incrimination. (A person cannot be required to answer questions or make statements tending to show guilt and have them used against him or her.)
During the adjudicatory hearing in delinquency cases, all charges must be proven beyond reasonable doubt before guilt is established. If the judge finds the juvenile to be guilty, the case is usually continued to another day for the judge to make a disposition decision (sentencing). The disposition decision is not always made immediately because the judge may require information about all aspects of the juvenile's background, including prior offenses and personal history, before determining what corrective measures to take with the juvenile. Dispositions in traffic cases, however, are usually made immediately at the end of the adjudicatory hearing.
Adult criminal cases in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court are tried with the same standards and procedures as are applied in misdemeanor (all criminal offenses except felonies) cases in General District Court, where most other adult misdemeanors are tried. Adult criminal cases generally involve offenses committed against juveniles or family members.
There is no jury trial in this court. A case must be transferred or appealed to Circuit Court
to obtain a jury trial.