Purpose clauses, 2016

  • No clause

  • Parens patriae

  • Due process era

  • Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ)

  • Developmental Approach

The District of Columbia's purpose clause has due process elements and aligns with BARJ.  It mentions treating children as children while protecting the needs of communities and victims.  Goals for delinquency court cases mention diversion and community-based alternatives, holding delinquent juveniles accountable in an individualized way, and rehabilitation with the goal of creating productive citizens and recognizing that rehabilitation of children is inextricably connected to the wellbeing and strength of their families. Preservation of the family and integration of parental accountability and participation is preferred at all times and the government is accountable for the provision of reasonable rehabilitative services.

DC ST §16-2301.02

Intake and diversion, 2016

Initial intake and court diversion decision is at the discretion of the prosecutor or the juvenile court intake officer.

In the District of Columbia, when law enforcement has probable cause to believe a child has committed a delinquent act, to take custody, the officer applies to the court for a custody order (with sworn testimony or affidavit), which is approved by the Office of the Attorney General, Public Safety Division, Juvenile Section (DA) before submission to the judicial officer. Upon arrest, the juvenile must be brought before a court probation officer or designee (JPO) who will determine whether to detain the child, and screens the matter for further action.

Other complaints alleging delinquency or that the youth is in need of supervision are referred to the Family Court Division of Social Services, Intake Services Office or designated agency (JPO) who conducts a preliminary inquiry and makes a recommendation about whether to file the petition or the suitability of adjustment, which can include diversion, based on criteria established by court rule. If JPO decides not to recommend filing or adjustment, the complainant is notified of the right to have the decision reviewed by the DA, who, upon request of the complainant, has the final decision on whether to file the petition. Once the DA receives the JPO recommendation to adjust the matter informally or file the petition, the DA makes the decision based on statutory criteria. Adjustments may include diversion for up to 6 months and can go an additional 6 months upon agreement of JPO and the DA. When the DA decides to file a petition, the child is assigned to a satellite probation office to supervise the child within 3 days, and the matter will go before the court.

Once the petition is filed, on motion of the DA or counsel for the child, for certain non-violent delinquent or ‘in need of supervision’ allegations, the court may suspend proceedings and continue the child under supervision via a ‘consent decree’ without commitment, in accordance with court rules. Following a judicial finding about the alleged acts, ‘alternatives to adjudication’ may include diversion programs and services.

Pre-petition court diversion time limit/s exist.

In District of Columbia, adjustments may include diversion for up to 6 months and can go an additional 6 months upon agreement of JPO and the DA.  Post-petition diversions are set by court rule and are not limited by statute.

Courtroom shackling, 2015

Restricted by judiciary

In the District of Columbia, Superior Court Administrative Order 15-07 (4/6/15) prohibits routine use of restraints. Family court must make an individualized determination of necessity (related to flight risk or safety/risk to self/others) at initial hearings, which can consider information from agencies working with the youth.  Use of shackles requires a court order with written findings of fact. The youth will remain in restraints for transport and in the courtroom until the determination is made. If the youth does not wish to enter the courtroom in restraints, counsel may waive appearance of the youth until after a decision is made.

Competency, 2015

In the District of Columbia, juvenile statute aligns with the Dusky standard and proscribes various actions when juveniles may be “incompetent to proceed”. Procedures include when examinations may or must occur, elements that must be in the report, and under what conditions the petition can be dismissed without prejudice and refiled once competency is restored. Youth cannot be transferred to (adult) criminal court unless they are competent.

  • No juvenile standard

  • Juvenile standard is the adult standard

  • Juvenile justice standard exists

  • JJ standard includes developmental immaturity

Sex offender registration, 2015

Does not register

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Juvenile Justice GPS (Geography, Policy, Practice, Statistics) is a project to develop a repository providing state policy makers and system stakeholders with a clear understanding of the juvenile justice landscape in the states.

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