Purpose clauses, 2016

  • No clause

  • Parens patriae

  • Due process era

  • Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ)

  • Developmental Approach

Virginia’s purpose clause of juvenile and domestic relations district courts retains some parens patriae language and phrases from the Legislative Guide for Drafting Family and Juvenile Court Acts (1969) and other elements regarding fair hearings and diversion of the due process era.  It aligns with BARJ, as it specifies holding offenders accountable, protecting rights of victims, and that alternatives to out-of-home placements must be considered.  The paramount concerns in all proceedings are the welfare of the child and the family, the safety of the community, and the protection of the rights of victims.

VA ST §16.1-227

Intake and diversion, 2016

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

In Virginia, law enforcement officers (LEO) can return a child home with a summons to appear in juvenile court (in lieu of petition) for some misdemeanor-level offenses (class 3 and 4, and those related to alcohol and marijuana, etc.). LEO must notify the court when a child is taken into custody and a judge or court intake officer (JPO) must hear the matter by the next business day (72 hours) at a detention hearing and will determine probable cause and whether a petition should be filed.  Pre-trial release with conditions can be ordered by the judge,

Otherwise, city or county attorneys for the commonwealth (DA)’s can directly file petitions related to allegations that a child is in need of supervision or delinquent, which will bring the matter before the judge and are not subject to intake screening.  Otherwise, complaints or referrals and petitions are screened by an Intake JPO.  The JPO’s can proceed with non-judicial dispositions including informal adjustments at their discretion, except when complaints allege a violent juvenile felony or any new felonious act with a prior felonious informal adjustment or adjudication. When proceeding informally, JPO will develop a plan with conditions that may include restitution and community service, or for truancy, up to 90-day participation with an interdisciplinary family assessment and planning team. If not successful, the JPO files the petition. JPO’s may authorize filing petitions at their discretion with the final decision, except that when refusing to authorize a petition alleging a class 1 misdemeanor or felonious offense, the complainant is notified of their right to appeal to the magistrate.

Once a petition is filed, following a finding that a delinquent act occurred but before entering a guilty judgement, the judge can defer disposition when the juvenile and juvenile's attorney agree to pre-adjudication supervision under JPO-prescribed terms and conditions. Conditions may include probation or placing the child in the temporary custody of DJJ for boot camp. Upon successful completion, the judge will discharge the juvenile and dismiss the proceedings.

Pre-petition court diversion time limit/s exist.

In Virginia, truancy-related programming can go for 90 days. No other court diversion timelines are specified in statute, though jurisdictions may limit other offenses to 120 days to align with the statutory time limit for adjudication hearings to occur.

Courtroom shackling, 2015

No statewide restriction

Competency, 2015

Virginia has an article about juvenile competency in the juvenile code (of statutes), which aligns with the Dusky standard. Once an attorney is appointed or retained for the juvenile in a delinquency matter, the judge must order an evaluation by a licensed mental health professional qualified by training and experience in the forensic evaluation of juveniles when the there is cause to believe the juvenile is not competent. The Commissioner of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services shall approve training and qualifications for evaluators, provide restoration services, and provide the court with a list of guidelines to assist with qualifying expert witnesses. Other than delinquency adjudication, the court can rule on other motions, etc. such as insufficient petition or other objections while the juvenile is incompetent. A finding of incompetency must not be based solely on age or developmental factors.

  • No juvenile standard

  • Juvenile standard is the adult standard

  • Juvenile justice standard exists

  • JJ standard includes developmental immaturity

Sex offender registration, 2015


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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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