What is juvenile delinquency court?

There are two types of cases that end up in juvenile delinquency court: they are called “601 petitions” and “602 petitions”.[2458]

    601 petitions: The county’s probation department files 601 petitions based on crimes that are only illegal when someone is a child under the age of 18. This includes things such as breaking curfew, skipping school, running away, or disobeying parents. If the court finds a child under the age of 18 guilty of one of these offenses, the child is called a “status offender.” [2459]
    602 petitions: The District Attorney’s office files 602 petitions based on crimes that would still be illegal even if the child were 18 years or older. These types of crimes include both felonies and misdemeanors. If the court finds the child guilty of these types of crimes, it is called an “adjudication” (instead of a “conviction,” which is the term used to describe crimes that people are found guilty of in the adult criminal court system). A child who has an “adjudication” is called a “delinquent” to describe their legal status. [2460]

In juvenile delinquency court, they have hearings called “fitness” hearings (sometimes called “waiver” hearings), where the judge decides if the child is “unfit” for juvenile delinquency court. If the child is found “unfit” for juvenile court, the child’s case will be held in adult criminal court, with adult punishments. Children can only be found “unfit” for juvenile delinquency court, and have their case sent to adult criminal court, if they were 14 or older at the time of the alleged offense.

  1. 2458

    See Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 600 et seq.; Guide to Juvenile Court, California Courts, http://www.courts.ca.gov/1216.htm.

  2. 2459

    See Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 600 et seq.; Guide to Juvenile Court, California Courts, http://www.courts.ca.gov/1216.htm.

  3. 2460

    See Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 600 et seq.; Guide to Juvenile Court, California Courts, http://www.courts.ca.gov/1216.htm.