Initial Screening Process
When the defendant is under the age of 18, it is likely their case will end up in juvenile court. One aspect of juvenile cases that sets them apart from adult cases is the involvement of the Department of Juvenile Justice. Before the case ever gets to court, the Department conducts its own review of the facts, interviews the child-defendant and their family, and makes a recommendation to the State Attorney’s Office as to how it believes the case should be resolved. The opportunity to influence and negotiate a particular outcome, short of taking a case to trial, is therefore at its peak during the Department’s initial screening process as prosecutors and judges routinely follow its recommendation.