Juvenile Delinquency

Rights of Juveniles

Juvenile Information Traffic, State & Local Law Violations

The Family Court handles all juvenile misdemeanor traffic violations, as well as all juvenile ordinance and State law violations.

What kind of traffic violations are included?

Misdemeanors handled by the family court include any juvenile under 17 charged with:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI).
  • Reckless driving.
  • Driving without a license.
  • Improper plates.
  • Fleeing and eluding police.

How am I charged?

At the time of the violation, the police will issue a ticket indicating the charge. It will also indicate that the court will notify you of a date and time of hearing. This is usually done within 30 – 60 days.

Do I have to appear at the hearing?

It depends on the charge. Some violations can be taken care of by mail by you and your parent or guardian signing the waiver of plea section and mailing the ticket back. With certain other violations your appearance at a hearing is mandatory.

Do I need an attorney?

That’s up to you. The court does not provide Court appointed attorneys in traffic matters.

What happens at the hearing?

You will either admit or deny the charge. Your case will by heard before a judge or magistrate, who, after hearing the case will either find you have committed the offense or dismiss the case. If the charge is substantiated, you will be responsible for court costs and the court may impose other dispositional measures. Your parent or guardian should accompany you to all hearings.

How will this affect my driving record?

The Secretary of State’s office will be notified of the charge and points will be assessed against your driving record.

What if I fail to appear at the hearing?

If you do not appear for the hearing, an order to show cause will be scheduled.  If you appear for the hearing, but fail to pay necessary court costs/fines, you will receive a warning letter from the court. You have 14 days to respond. If after 14 days you have not responded, the Secretary of State’s office will be notified and your license will be suspended. Your failure to appear will show on your record as an outstanding ticket.

But I’m under 16 and don ‘t even have a valid Michigan driver’s license.

The failure to appear will prohibit you from obtaining your license when you do apply

What if I commit a felony offense?

Vehicular felony offenses include manslaughter, negligent homicide, car jacking, or use of a car in an armed robbery. If the motor vehicle felony is substantial, you will go through the normal juvenile court petition process. Felony offenses will appear on your driving record.

What is a State or Local Law offense?

These offenses are local city, village or State laws that make certain behaviors illegal. These can include: Skipping school, running away from home, trespassing, party crashing, underage drinking, fighting, possession, sale or use of drugs, indecent or immoral conduct, loitering, curfew violation, hitchhiking, smoking, shoplifting, and carrying a concealed weapon, bicycle and skateboard violations.

What happens if I commit an offense?

You will receive a ticket. A court officer then orders one of the following actions :

  • Dismissal Letter – A letter will go to your parent or guardian notifying them of the violation and requesting them to discuss the citation with you.
  • Probation Officer – You may be assigned a probation officer to monitor your behavior.
  • Official Docket – The court may hold a hearing with the parent or guardian.

Where are the hearings held?

800 Livingston Blvd, Suite 1-C Courtroom 101
Gaylord, MI 49735
(989) 731-0214

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Juvenile Delinquency

When is a child considered a juvenile delinquent?

A juvenile delinquent is any child under 17 who has broken the law, is disobedient to parents, guardian or custodian, or has been truant from home or school.

What happens when a minor is picked up and taken into custody by the police?

The minor is taken to local police station headquarters where the police have the option of releasing the minor or requesting permission of the court to place in pretrial detention. If approved, the minor will be detained pending a hearing.

How long will the minor be held in pretrial detention?

The Family Court must hold a preliminary hearing within 24 hours of the minor’s admission to determine whether a petition should be authorized and whether the juvenile should remain in custody before the trial. The court may call witnesses to help make the determination.

The court may decide to release the juvenile without conditions, pending trial or with certain lawful conditions, including a requirement that a bond be posted.

How do I post bond?

Bonds may be posted during normal business hours in the Court office. Payment may be cash, money order, cashier’s check, or surety bond.

After hours and on weekends, bond may be posted at the Sheriff’s Department. Payments must be by credit card, money order or cashier’s check only.

What happens next?

A trial date will be set. At the trial, a judge or referee will hear the evidence/testimony and determine if the juvenile comes within the provision of the juvenile code.

What is involved in commitment?

The court can rule that the minor be made a continuing ward of the state with jurisdiction to age 21 if warranted.

Will the minor need an attorney?

The court will appoint an attorney if :

  • The parent or guardian refuses or fails to appear at the hearings;
  • The parent or guardian is the complainant or victim;
  • The minor and parent/guardian cannot afford an attorney;
  • The parent/guardian refuses to retain an attorney and the juvenile doesn’t waive the right to an attorney;
  • The court determines that it is in the best interest of the child or public to appoint an attorney.

Who is responsible for attorney fees?

Upon admission to the pretrial detention, the court will take a financial statement from the parent/guardian. After sentencing, the court will make a recommendation for reimbursement by the parent/guardian for the minor’s room and board and attorney fees based on the financial statement.

What is probation?

If the court orders probation, the minor will be released to his/her parent or guardian and assigned a probation officer for a time to be determined by the court. The minor will report to the probation officer on a regular basis, also determined by the Court.

The court may also order mandatory restitution, where the minor and/or parent must compensate the victim for damages or loss, or participation in a community service restitution program.

If the minor is formally adjudicated, will the minor have a record?

Yes, the court keeps a file on any juvenile formally adjudicated.

What if after a complaint is filed, the minor is not held in pretrial detention?

If the minor is not held in pretrial detention, the petition may be denied, diverted, or made official.

If the case is dismissed by the judge or referee will the minor have a record?

While the court will maintain a record, information regarding the contact will not be revealed unless there is a finding of guilt and the disposition is “Warned and Dismissed.”

Will the minor have a record if the petition is denied?


Is school truancy handled by the family court?

For any child between 6 and 16, skipping school is against the law. If a child repeatedly skips school, and all coordinated efforts of parents, guardians, school personnel, counselors, and outside agencies have failed, an official petition can be filed by the court. The court will then recommend further action.

What about running away from home?

Running away from home is against the law. Other acts that are against the law include trespassing, party crashing, hitchhiking, smoking, fighting, loitering and curfew violations.

The Family Court is located at the Alpine Center in Gaylord. The court is open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday.

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Rights of Juveniles

While all citizens of Michigan are protected by certain rights under the law, juveniles (under 17) did not always have those same rights. It was only after a Supreme Court ruling in 1967 that juveniles were given the same rights as adults when involved with the court system.

What are the rights of a juvenile in the legal justice system?

In general court proceedings, the juvenile has the following rights:
Right to an attorney – The juvenile must be offered an opportunity to have an attorney. If the juvenile desires legal counsel and cannot afford it, he/she is entitled to an attorney appointed by the court.
Preliminary hearing within 24 hours – The Juvenile Code requires a preliminary hearing be no later than 24 hours after admission to determine whether a petition will be issued and whether the juvenile will be held in custody pending a trial. If the juvenile is held in custody, a hearing is held within 24 hours.
Notified or Allegations – The juvenile must be told why she/he is being held.
Right to hearing by judge – The juvenile is entitled to a hearing before a judge and the right to ask for a review of the referee’s recommendations.
The juvenile’s parent must be told what costs or reimbursement of costs they may be responsible for.
What about rights in delinquency proceedings?
In delinquency proceedings, the juvenile is entitled to:

  • Hear the charges in the petition and have an explanation of the proceedings
  • Be informed of self-incrimination and how any statement made by the juvenile can be used against the juvenile in court proceedings
  • Be allowed a chance to deny or defend against the charges

Who must be notified of the hearing in a delinquency proceeding?

The juvenile, the juvenile’s parent, and the attorney representing the juvenile.

What about rights in child protective proceedings?

In abuse/neglect proceedings, the parent/guardian is entitled to:

  • A court appointed attorney if the parent/guardian wishes to be represented by legal counsel and cannot afford to pay;
  • Be informed whether an attorney has been appointed to represent the child;
  • Receive a copy of the petition;
  • Deny or admit the allegations and offer an explanation;
  • Be read the allegations in the petition;
  • Receive written notice of any hearing 7 days before the trial or dispositional review;
  • Receive written notice 14 days before any permanent custody or permanency planning hearing;
  • Be notified of further hearings personally or through an attorney.

If the child has been placed outside the child’s home, the parent/guardian must be informed:

  • Of the agency’s responsibility to develop an initial services plan;
  • That the initial services plan must be prepared within 30 days of placement;
  • That participation in an initial services plan is voluntary without a court order.

Who must be notified of a child protective proceeding?

The agency responsible for the child, the foster parent or custodian, the parents and attorney (unless parental rights have been terminated), the child’s guardian, the guardian ad litem, the child’s attorney, the child if 11 or older, any tribal leader if there is an Indian tribe affiliation, and any other person the court directs to be present.

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