Offenses Committed by Children
As a general rule, the juvenile court has jurisdiction over offenses committed by a child, defined as being a person under the age of 18 at the time of the offense. Traffic misdemeanors and petty offenses are not brought into juvenile court but remain in adult court in the Magistrate Division. Offenses that would be criminal if committed by an adult are delinquencies if committed by a person between 10 and 18.
Charging a Juvenile
The State’s Attorney has the option of diverting juvenile cases to a court-approved program for six months as an alternative to filing a petition. First-time, non-violent offenders then have the opportunity to admit their wrongdoing and complete a diversion program. If they are successful, they are not petitioned into court. The Brookings County Teen Court is one such program. High school aged juveniles charged with offense such as underage consumption, shoplifting, and injury to property are sentenced by a jury of their peers.
Juveniles are charged when the State’s Attorney files a petition. All juvenile proceedings are conducted under the best interests of the child standard.
If the juvenile is in custody, the petition is served on the parent at the temporary custody hearing; if the juvenile was not arrested or was released to a parent, the parent will be served a copy of the petition and a summons to court by the Sheriff’s Office. The summons will give the place, date, and time of a court hearing. Both a parent and the child must appear at that hearing.
If the juvenile denies the charges, a trial date is scheduled by the court. If the juvenile admits, the judge may proceed immediately to sentencing or, in more serious cases, may request a court service officer to prepare a case history to help guide the court at sentencing. The judge has all the options set out in SDCL 26-8B-6 for sentencing any CHINS offense.