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Court Process

Information Filing:  An Information filing is a legal document that explains to the Court and the juvenile why the prosecutor thinks the juvenile broke the law.  If the prosecutor files an Information, the juvenile must appear in Court.

Notice and Summons Service:   After the prosecutor files an Information, the juvenile and their parent or legal guardian receive legal notification, called a Notice and Summons.  Receipt of the document is called “service.”  The Notice and Summons informs the parties when the juvenile must appear in Court for an “arraignment” and what the legal rights of the juvenile are.  A copy of the Information is sent with the Notice and Summons.  The Notice and Summons can arrive in the mail, be sent Certified mail, or be delivered by a police officer.

Detention Hearing:  A detention hearing must take place the next court day after a juvenile is placed in detention (this does not include weekends or holidays).  At the hearing, the judge decides if the juvenile should stay in detention or be released.  If released, the judge will order the juvenile to follow special rules, which might include:

  • Attending School
  • Going to work
  • Staying home when not at school or work
  • Being home at certain times of the day

Arraignment Hearing:  If the juvenile is not held in detention, an arraignment is usually the first court appearance.  At the arraignment the judge explains the juvenile’s legal rights, and the Information is read to the juvenile.  The juvenile must then plead guilty or not guilty.

If the juvenile admits guilt to breaking the law, the judge may hold a disposition hearing (sentencing) or set a time for the juvenile to come back to court for a disposition hearing.  If the juvenile pleads not guilty, the judge sets a time for the juvenile to come back to court for a fact finding hearing (trial).

Fact Finding Hearing:  At this hearing the prosecutor tells the Court why s/he thinks the juvenile broke the law.  The lawyer for the juvenile tells the Court why s/he thinks the juvenile did not break the law.  The judge then decides if the prosecutor has proven that the juvenile broke the law.

If the judge decides the prosecutor has not proven the juvenile broke the law, the judge finds the juvenile not guilty and the case is dismissed.

If the judge decides the prosecutor has proven the juvenile broke the law, the judge finds the juvenile guilty.  If found guilty, the judge may hold a disposition hearing or set a time for the juvenile to come back to Court for a disposition hearing (sentencing).

Disposition Hearing:  At this hearing, the judge decides the penalty for the juvenile who broke the law.  The decision becomes the Disposition Order, and may include any of the following:

  • Community Supervision (probation) by a probation officer
  • Volunteer Work (community service, unpaid)
  • Paying a court-imposed fine
  • Paying a fee for services while under community supervision
  • Spending time in detention
  • Paying a fee for services while in detention
  • Paying restitution to victims

The Disposition Order may also impose additional, special rules that the juvenile must follow while being supervised by a probation officer.  Depending on the severity and frequency of offenses, the juvenile might be sentenced to a state institution to serve time.

Decline of Jurisdiction or Remand Hearing:  In some cases the prosecutor asks for a special hearing for the judge to decide if the juvenile’s case should go to adult court.  The prosecutor asks for this depending on the juvenile’s age, seriousness of the offense, and past history.