Juvenile Delinquency Cases
A delinquent act is a violation of a law that would be a crime if committed by an adult. A delinquent child is one who has committed a delinquent act and is in need of treatment and rehabilitation or supervision by the court.
The consequences of adjudication for a delinquent act vary according to the act, the needs of the child, and the needs of the community. The judge has discretion on the final disposition.
If the child is acquitted or found not to be in need of treatment, rehabilitation, or supervision, the case will be dismissed. Some delinquent acts are disposed of through diversion, informal adjustment, or mediation. If the child is adjudicated delinquent, the court may dispose of the case in any way authorized by law, including placing the child on probation, incarcerating the child for up to 90 days, or committing the child to the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice for a period of two years. Any delinquent act that includes possession of drugs, including marijuana, will result in the mandatory suspension of the child's driving privileges.
There is a category of serious offenses called designated felons. These offenses are described in Georgia Code Section 15-11-2. A person commits a designated felony when they are repeat offenders or have committed offenses that are particularly dangerous to the community. After adjudication, the court may require that these offenders be committed to the Department of Juvenile Justice for up to five years and may order that they be incarcerated for the entire time. (See more about the dispositions for designated felonies in Georgia Code Section 15-11-602)
The court has jurisdiction for most cases involving children who are alleged delinquent, alleged dependent, or under court supervision or probation. (See Georgia Code Section 15-11-11).
If a child is at least 15 years old and is charged with any delinquent act, or is 13 or 14 years old and is charged with committing an act for which the punishment is loss of life or confinement for life in a penal institution, the child may be subject to a Juvenile Court hearing to determine whether to transfer the child to Superior Court for trial as an adult. If transferred and convicted in Superior Court, the child will be punished as an adult.
The Juvenile Court does not have jurisdiction of seven specific offenses if the child accused of any of them is 13 to 17 years old at the time of the offense. Those offenses include murder, voluntary manslaughter, rape, aggravated sodomy, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sexual battery, or armed robbery if committed with a firearm. Each of the above offenses are within the original jurisdiction of the Superior Court. (See Georgia Code Section 15-11-560).