Juvenile Court, Abuse & Neglect
The DeKalb County State’s Attorney’s office is responsible for all juvenile delinquency cases involving persons under the age of 18 charged with committing a felony or misdemeanor.
- At the same time, the State’s Attorney prosecutes cases of child abuse or neglect in which children are alleged to have been harmed or placed in harm’s way as a result of any act or failure to act by a parent or other caregiver.
- In extreme instances of neglect or abuse, the State’s Attorney’s Office may seek to terminate parental rights.
The role of the State’s Attorney’s office in juvenile delinquency cases is to restore the person and property of the victim and to lay the groundwork for re-integrating the delinquent minor into society in so far as possible.
- In certain cases of extreme gravity, the office presents evidence demonstrating that a juvenile offender should be tried as an adult.
- In most instances involving juveniles however, the treatment and rehabilitation of the minor is the goal since the worst possible outcome for society would be to turn a juvenile into a habitual adult offender.
To achieve this, the State’s Attorney’s office refers young 1st time offenders to the Juvenile diversion program and works closely with Juvenile Court Services to determine the level of court supervision, services and programs that will best serve the needs of the minor and of society in general.
There is considerable overlap between the responsibilities of the State’s Attorney’s Office for protecting abused and neglected children and its role in dealing with juvenile delinquency.
- Recent studies by the National Bureau of Economic Research and other research institutions clearly indicate a close relationship between child maltreatment and the incidence of adult criminality.
- In fact, abused children are roughly twice as likely to engage in criminal behavior both as youths and adults.
- The high social cost of criminal behavior underscores the value of the work of the State’s Attorney’s Office both in prosecuting cases of child abuse and neglect and in dealing with the consequences of juvenile delinquency by balancing justice with rehabilitation.