What Happens at the Trial?
Adjudicatory Hearing (Trial)
Juveniles do not have the right to a jury trial in juvenile court. The
adjudicatory hearing, or trial, is the fact-finding part of the case. Witnesses
come before a judge to answer questions from the attorneys regarding the
charges. The judge decides the believability of the witnesses and the strength
of their statements. The judge then decides whether the child is guilty. Just as
in adult court, no one can be found guilty unless the prosecutor proves the
charges beyond a reasonable doubt. The child does not have to testify or prove
anything. The child may also bring in witnesses.
As in all trials, there can be opening statements, presentation of evidence,
cross examination and closing arguments. If the judge finds the child not
guilty, the case is over and the child does not need to come back to court. If
the judge finds the child guilty of committing the delinquent act, the judge can
set a new date for the disposition (sentencing).
By law, a juvenile may be held 21 days prior to his adjudicatory hearing and up
to 15 days following an order of adjudication.