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What Happens in Family Court

Meeting a Family Court Officer

If your child is accused of a law violation or status offense, you will be notified via a letter from the Family Court. The letter states the date and time of your meeting with a Family Court officer. The purpose of this meeting is to:

  • Inform you about your child’s behavior. This includes the child’s progress in school, his or her activities outside of school and whether there are past reports of misbehavior.
  • Decide whether you and your child must appear before a judge. If you and your child are ordered to appear before a judge, you will need to return to Family Court on another day. Even if a court appearance is not ordered, the officer may require that the family meet with a counselor.

Please be on time for your meeting and make sure you have all the required documents. If you have any questions, contact the Family Court officer whose name and phone number are in the letter.

Appearing Before a Judge

On the date of your appearance before a judge, an attorney of your choosing may accompany you. If you cannot afford an attorney, the Family Court will refer you to a public defender.

If your child denies committing the law violation or status offense, a trial will take place, then the judge will decide whether your child is responsible for the crime.

In reaching a decision, the judge considers your child’s home behavior, school performance, community activities, any previous offenses and other relevant information. If your child is found responsible, the judge will order punitive measures that can include:

  • Doing community service.
  • Compensating the victim.
  • Being held in a detention home.

When you go to Family Court, be prepared to spend several hours there. If you need more information, call the Family Court officer whose name and telephone number are on the letter.