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A child between the ages of eleven and eighteen who is alleged to have committed a criminal offense may be prosecuted in delinquency court. Most delinquency cases that are filed with the District Court result in the child and their parent(s)/guardian(s) being summoned to court to respond to allegations outlined on a petition or a citation. If the child was detained in a secure facility, they will be brought before the court within 36 hours of date of arrest.
Charges may involve petty misdemeanors, misdemeanors, gross misdemeanors or felonies. Court appointed attorneys are not available for petty misdemeanor charges. The child may retain private counsel at his or her own expense. On misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, and felony matters, the parents of the child may complete an application for a court appointed attorney. The judge will review the application prior to the court appearance to determine eligibility. If the parents do not qualify for a court appointed attorney, they may hire a private attorney to argue the case.
If the child has been charged with a felony level offense, the child must be fingerprinted prior to his or her first court appearance. Each new felony charge requires fingerprinting even if the child has been fingerprinted on prior cases.
Delinquency cases are confidential for the most part. That means delinquency files are not open for public inspection. However, delinquency cases are open to the public if the child was 16 years of age or older at the time they were alleged to have committed a felony offense.