In the world of criminal law in Virginia, Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts oversee cases that involve juveniles (anyone under the age of 18 at the time of the offense) accused of crimes, or crimes committed by adults where a juvenile or a “family or household member” is the alleged victim. In Prince William County, the J&DR Court handles cases that take place in the County, as well as the cities of Manassas, Manassas Park, the Towns of Haymarket, Quantico, Dumfries, and Occoquan. In this post, I will briefly discuss the basics of cases where a juvenile is accused of a crime.
The primary role of the Court in any criminal case is to uphold the rule of law. If a person is found guilty of a crime, it is the responsibility of the court to impose a sentence that takes into consideration the appropriate punishment for the Defendant in relationship to what has been done, as well as the possibility of deterring the Defendant and others from committing similar acts in the future, or rehabilitating the Defendant to be a more productive member of society. In J&DR Court when it comes to the criminal conduct of juveniles, the Court often sees its role much more as rehabilitative—to teach the juvenile to learn from their mistakes and mature into adulthood.
When a juvenile is accused of committing a crime, the process can begin in a variety of ways. The juvenile can be arrested just like an adult. If that happens, they can be held at the Juvenile Detention Home until the next day court is in session, where a hearing is held to determine whether the juvenile can be returned home until their court date or not. If a juvenile is detained, the law requires that a hearing must be held within 21 days to review that status or resolve the case, and then every 21 days thereafter until the case is resolved.