Glossary of Terms

Absconder – A person who departs or disappears from the court ordered supervision of a probation officer or the jurisdiction of the Court without permission.

Adjudication – A juvenile court judge’s determination as to whether or not a juvenile committed a delinquent offense.

Aftercare – Services (including health, mental health, educational, vocational, family services, etc.) designed to help juvenile re-enter the community after placement in out-of-home facilities. Collaboration and planning for aftercare typically begins well before a juvenile is released to ensure the continuity of supervision and care.

Allegation – A charge or claim of fact set forth in a petition or other pleading.

Assessment – An evaluation of a juvenile’s risks and needs in various capacities, including, for example, psychological and psychiatric, educational, and familial. Several types of assessments may be ordered by Court or undertaken by the Juvenile Probation Department.

Body Attachment – An order of the Court directing authorities to bring an individual before the Court.

Community-Based Program – Treatment, services, and/or supervision provided to juvenile as part of a diversion program or as a condition of probation. The individualized plans utilize services in the juvenile’s community, rather than in detention or in a secure confinement setting.

Competency – A juvenile’s ability to stand trial, measured by his or her capacity to understand juvenile court proceedings, to consult meaningfully with a lawyer, and to assist in his or her own defense. Evaluation of a juvenile’s competency is particularly important where a juvenile is very young, immature, or suffers from a mental health disorder or intellectual disability

Conditional Release – An order of the Court granting a juvenile the opportunity to be released to his or her parents with the condition that the juvenile appear for the next court date, among other obligations, instead of being held in a secure detention and/or a shelter care facility.

Delinquent Act/Offense – An act committed by a juvenile that would constitute a crime if committed by an adult.

Delinquency Petition – A delinquency petition is filed by the prosector asking for a juvenile to be declared delinquent. It informs a juvenile judge of the allegations against a juvenile, and asks the judge to hold a formal hearing to determine if the juvenile is responsible for the allegations.

Detention – A short-term secure confinement ordered by a court.

Disposition – The stage of a delinquency proceeding comparable to the sentencing stage of an adult criminal trial. A dispositional hearing is only held if a juvenile has admitted to an offense, or is found to have committed the offense by the judge. Based on information provided by a juvenile’s defense attorney, the prosecutor, the juvenile’s parent, guardian or custodian, and the Probation Department, the judge determines the juvenile’s needs and how best to meet them, while still ensuring the public’s protection.

Detention Review Hearing – A hearing to determine a juvenile’s liberty or detention status pending further hearings.

Department of Correction – A State agency responsible for overseeing the incarceration of juveniles who have been adjudicated of delinquent acts within a particular jurisdiction, and have been ordered confined there by a judge.

Emancipate – A court order that assigns an individual under age 18 with some of the rights of an adult. To gain judicial emancipation, juveniles must show that they are able to live on their own and can financially support themselves.

Expungement – Court order that requires juvenile records to be erased and destroyed once the offending juvenile reaches a certain age so that a juvenile record does not impede individuals from becoming productive members of society.

Fact Finding Hearing – A trial before a judge in which the prosecuting attorney presents evidence and must prove that a juvenile committed a delinquent act, or a violation of their dispositional order. There is no jury for this type of trial.

Failure to Comply – A document filed by the Probation Department alleging a juvenile failed to comply with the terms of their Informal Adjustment.

Felony – These offenses are more serious than misdemeanor offenses. Under Indiana law, felonies are divided into seven (7) categories, based on the perceived seriousness of the crime with Murder being the most serious and level 6 being the least serious.

Indigent – An individual who is unable to pay for a defense attorney. Juvenile who are accused of committing delinquent acts are guaranteed the right to an attorney by the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which means that indigent juvenile are entitled to a cost-free, court-appointed attorney per federal poverty guidelines.

Informal Adjustment – An agreement of services and/or probation between the juvenile, parents, and the Court that is designed to keep a juvenile from committing future delinquent acts. An Informal Adjustment is typically offered for first-time offenders accused of minor offenses.

Initial Hearing – A hearing in which the allegations, outlined in the Delinquency Petition, are formally admitted or denied by the juvenile.

Interstate Compact – An agreement between the 50 states by which each state agrees – under certain circumstances – to accept parolees and probationers of other states for supervision.

Intrastate Compact – An agreement between counties within a state by which each county agrees – under certain circumstances – to accept parolees and probationers of other counties for supervision.

Juvenile Record – Records kept by the juvenile court with information and documents relevant to a juvenile’s delinquency charges, including information from the police, the probation department, a juvenile’s school, and health care and treatment providers.

Modification Petition – A document filed by the Probation Department asserting that the current treatment plan is no longer appropriate and/or in the juvenile’s best interest.

Misdemeanor – A less serious type of criminal offense under Indiana law. They are classified into three classes with class A being the most serious and class C being the least serious.

Parent Participation Plan – An Order of the Court compelling a parent to cooperate and/or participate with their juvenile’s treatment plan.

Placement – The new residence assigned to juveniles in the juvenile court or foster care system who cannot or should not return home. Juveniles are entitled to be placed in the most family-like setting available, including placement with a relative, a foster family, or an adoptive family, or sent to a group home or institution. As they age, juveniles may also be placed in a transitional living placement or a Supervised Independent Living placement.

Predispositional Report – A comprehensive inquiry into the background, criminal history, and family circumstances of a juvenile who has been adjudicated delinquent. The report is prepared by the probation officer(s) and given to the judge, defense attorney, and the juvenile and parent(s). The report includes a treatment plan recommendation for the judge to review.

Preliminary Inquiry Investigation – An informal investigation by a probation officer into the facts and circumstances reported to the Court.

Probation – A disposition option involving the supervision of a delinquent juvenile in the community rather than in a secure confinement facility. “Probation” is both the name of the legal status that somewhat limits the juvenile’s freedom, and the name of the local agency providing supervision and other services. When a juvenile is placed on probation, he or she must comply with any conditions specified in the judge’s order, including submission to routine drug tests, payment of restitution to a particular victim, participation in treatment or educational programs, and/or completion of community service.

Probation Officer – An officer of the Court appointed to investigate, report on, and supervise the conduct of a person placed on probation supervision.

Public Defender – An attorney designated by the Court to defend persons involved in legal matters who cannot afford their own attorney.

Probable Cause – A reasonable ground to suspect that a person has committed a crime or a delinquent offense.

Prosecutor – A lawyer who represents the state or federal government in criminal and juvenile proceedings. The Prosecutor is responsible for determining appropriate charges for juveniles.

Restitution – Payments that a judge may order a juvenile and his or her family to make to a particular crime victim. Restitution is part of a juvenile’s disposition and is generally based on the amount of harm inflicted on the victim, or destruction or loss of property.

Status Offense – Status Offenses are offenses that can only be committed by a person less than eighteen years of age. Examples of status offenses include; Truancy, Possession of Alcohol by a Minor, and Leaving Home.

Summons – A legal document, issued by the court clerk or other court officer, notifying the named person to appear before a judge or magistrate.

Truancy – Habitual absence from school. Because the law requires juvenile to attend school up to a certain age, skipping school or repeated absences violates the law. Truancy is a status offense because it only applies to minors.

Violation of Dispositional Order – When a juvenile does not adhere to the rules of his or her formal Probation supervision, and is subsequently returned to secure detention, and/or a shelter care facility pending a court hearing.

Violation of Conditional Release – When a juvenile does not adhere to the rules of his or her conditional release requirements and is subsequently returned to secure detention, and/or a shelter care facility pending a court hearing.

Waiver of Jurisdiction – An Order of the juvenile court that waives the case to adult court.

Warrant – An order signed by a judge authorizing law enforcement/probation to make an arrest, perform a search, or seize property.