Juvenile Delinquency Court

Juvenile Delinquency Court

Juvenile delinquency court is a specialized court within the juvenile justice system that deals with cases involving minors who are accused of committing crimes or engaging in delinquent behavior. Juvenile delinquency court plays a crucial role in the broader juvenile justice system. It is tasked with handling cases in which minors, typically individuals under the age of 18, have been alleged to engage in criminal activities or behaviors that violate the law. These activities may range from relatively minor offenses such as shoplifting or vandalism to more serious crimes like assault, theft, or drug-related offenses. The court serves as the forum where these cases are adjudicated, and decisions are made regarding the appropriate legal consequences and rehabilitation measures for the young offenders.
Unlike adult criminal courts, juvenile delinquency courts have distinct characteristics and guiding principles. The primary goal of these courts is not solely punitive; rather, it is oriented toward rehabilitation and addressing the underlying issues that may have contributed to the minor’s delinquent behavior. This approach acknowledges that young individuals may be more malleable and amenable to positive change, making it crucial to provide them with guidance, support, and resources to help them reestablish their lives on a lawful and productive path.
In these specialized courts, the proceedings often differ from those in adult criminal courts. The focus is on the best interests of the child, and the process aims to balance the needs of the minor with the necessity for public safety. As a result, the consequences can encompass a wide spectrum of options, including probation, community service, counseling, educational programs, and, in certain cases, placement in juvenile detention facilities.
In essence, juvenile delinquency courts serve as a vital component of the juvenile justice system, striving to find an appropriate balance between accountability for unlawful actions and the potential for rehabilitation and future success for young individuals who find themselves entangled in the legal system. They play a crucial role in shaping the lives of these minors and ensuring that they have a chance to become law-abiding and contributing members of society.


Referral – The process often begins with a referral from law enforcement, schools, or concerned parties regarding the minor’s behavior.

Intake – The court’s intake officer reviews the referral and decides whether to divert the case to alternative programs or to proceed with formal charges.

Petition – If formal charges are filed, a petition is submitted to the court, outlining the alleged delinquent acts.

Detention or Release – A detention hearing may be held to determine whether the minor should be detained or released pending the court hearing.

Adjudication – Similar to a trial, the court holds an adjudication hearing to determine if the minor is delinquent or not.

Disposition – If found delinquent, the court holds a disposition hearing to determine the appropriate consequences, which can include probation, community service, or placement in a juvenile facility.

Rehabilitation – The emphasis in juvenile delinquency court is on rehabilitation and reintegration into society, rather than punishment.

Docket Days

Please note that all names and specific details are fictional and used for illustrative purposes only.

Day of the Week
Docket Type
Case Categories and Activities
Arraignment Docket
- Initial appearances for juvenile offenders
- Review of charges and plea options
- Assignment of defense counsel
Pre-Trial Docket
- Pre-trial conferences for pending delinquency cases
- Discussion of evidence, witnesses, and motions
- Scheduling future court dates
Adjudication and Disposition Docket
- Trials and hearings to determine guilt or innocence
- Sentencing and disposition of delinquent juveniles
- Review of probationary conditions and treatment
Probation Violation Docket
- Hearings for juveniles accused of violating probation
- Review of compliance with probation terms
- Modification of probation conditions
Status Hearing Docket
- General status hearings for pending delinquency cases
- Case management updates
- Scheduling future hearings and trial dates
As Needed
Emergency Hearings
- Hearings for urgent matters, such as detention orders
- Scheduling based on the urgency of the situation
Review and Rehabilitation Docket
- Review of rehabilitation and treatment progress
- Discussion of services and interventions
- Referrals to counseling, education, or therapy

Delinquent/Unruly Proceedings

(a) Delinquent child taken into custody and released. When a child is taken into custody and is not detainable, the child shall be released to the child’s parent, guardian or other custodian within a reasonable time. The child and the person to whom a child is released shall be served a summons requiring the child’s return to court at such time and place as the court directs.

(b) Delinquent child taken into custody and not released.

(1) If a child is taken into custody without an order and:

    (A) The child is alleged to be delinquent and held in secure detention, a probable cause determination that an offense has been committed by the child shall be made by a magistrate within 48 hours of the child being taken into custody; or

    (B) The child is alleged to be delinquent and detained under the special circumstances exception pursuant to T.C.A. § 37-1-114(c)(3), a probable cause determination that an offense has been committed by the child and a finding of special circumstances shall be made by a magistrate within 24 hours, excluding nonjudicial days, but no later than 48 hours of the child being taken into custody.

In either case, if the magistrate does not make the required findings, the child shall be immediately released to the child’s parent, guardian or other custodian. If the required findings are made and the child remains in secure detention, a detention hearing must be held within the timeframes outlined in subdivision (b)(2). “Magistrate” means a person designated as such pursuant to the provisions of T.C.A §§ 37-1-107 or 40-1-106. Probable cause determinations shall be based on a written affidavit, which may be sworn to in person or by audio-visual electronic means.

(2) If a child alleged to be delinquent is taken into custody pursuant to an order of attachment or if a probable cause determination is made pursuant to paragraph (b), the child shall not remain in detention longer than 72 hours, excluding nonjudicial days, but in no event more than 84 hours, unless a detention hearing is held. For a child so detained, a petition setting forth the allegations against the child and the basis for asserting the court’s jurisdiction shall be filed prior to the child’s detention hearing.

(c) Secure detention of delinquent child.

(1) A child alleged to be delinquent and not released shall be placed in a juvenile detention facility. The court and the child’s parent, guardian or other custodian shall immediately be notified of the child’s location and of the reason for the child’s detention.

(2) A child not released shall be informed upon being placed in the detention facility, both verbally and in writing, by a person designated by the court of:

    (A) The reason for being detained, including the nature of the alleged offense;

    (B) The child’s right to a detention hearing and an explanation of the purpose of a detention hearing;

    (c) The child’s right to an attorney and that an attorney will be appointed to represent the child as soon as possible prior to the detention hearing if the child’s parent or custodian is financially unable or refuses to retain an attorney for the child;

    (D) The right not to say anything about the charges being placed against the child and that anything the child says may be used against the child in court;

    (E) The right to communicate with the child’s attorney and parent, guardian or other custodian, and that provision will be made by the detention facility to allow for such private communication.

(d) Detention Hearing.

(1) Advisement of Rights. A At the beginning of the detention hearing, the court shall inform the parties of the purpose of the hearing and the possible consequences of the detention hearing, and shall inform the child of the child’s rights pursuant to Rule 205.

(2) Evidence. Any finding that there is probable cause to believe that an offense has been committed, and that the child committed it, shall be based on evidence admitted pursuant to the Rules of Evidence, except that such evidence may include reliable hearsay.

(3) Required Determinations. The court, in making the decision on whether to detain the child, shall:

    (A) Determine whether probable cause exists as to whether the charged offense or a lesser included offense has been committed and whether the child committed it; and

    (B) If probable cause has been determined, whether the offense is one which qualifies for continued detention under T.C.A. § 37-1-114; and

    (c) If probable cause has been determined and the offense qualifies for continued detention, determine whether it is in the best interest of the child and the community that the child remain in detention pending further hearings. In making this best interest determination, the court should consider the likelihood that the child would abscond or be removed from the jurisdiction of the court; and

    (D) Determine whether any less restrictive alternatives to detention are available which would satisfy the court’s best interest determination above. The court may impose conditions on release such as the setting of bail, restrictions on the child’s movements and activities, requirements of the child’s parent, guardian, or custodian, or other community-based alternatives as an alternative to continued detention.

(4) Release of Child. If the court does not find the child is detainable as above, the child shall be released to an appropriate parent, guardian or responsible adult. The court may impose conditions on release as above, and a hearing shall be scheduled.

(5) Continued Detention of Child. If the court orders the child to be detained, or if the child waives a the detention hearing, the court shall ensure that the child’s case will be scheduled so as to limit the time the child spends in secure detention.
(6) Waiver of Time Limit for Detention Hearing. The time limit for the hearing may be waived by a knowing and voluntary written waiver by the child. Any such waiver may be revoked at any time, at which time a detention hearing shall be held within the time frame outlined in T.C.A. § 37-1-117.




Contact Details:
  • 728-7084



Contact Details:
  • 728-7085



Contact Details:
  • 728-7005