Fairfield County Juvenile Court

We have a proven track record of success in handling over 15,000 criminal cases and are consistently awarded as one of Ohio’s top criminal defense firms. We are highly experienced Fairfield County Juvenile Court lawyers in Columbus, OH and all of central Ohio. Experience matters when dealing with criminal charges in Fairfield County, which prosecutors and judges handle differently on a case-by-case basis. We know what to expect and what to do to get the best result possible.

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(614) 444-1900

Fairfield County Juvenile Court

124 W Main St.
Lancaster, OH 43130

Highly Experienced Fairfield County Juvenile Court Attorneys

No parent wants to learn that their child has been summoned to the juvenile court. But if you do find yourself in this situation, it is critical that you have the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your attorney must have experience in handling juvenile cases. It is even better if your attorney has experience appearing in the same court where your child’s case will be heard.

At the Joslyn Law Firm, we know how stressful a juvenile court case can be. Our attorneys have decades of experience handling juvenile cases in the courts of Ohio. We also have extensive experience in the Fairfield Juvenile Court. We have appeared before the judge and magistrates, and we know the prosecutors and court staff. We have worked with these colleagues to resolve juvenile cases fairly. We fight hard to defend a juvenile defendant’s legal rights at every step of a criminal investigation and process.

Most parents have concerns about how a juvenile case will impact the rest of their child’s life. Will they be admitted to college? Be able to get a job? In some cases, a juvenile record can make it harder to get accepted into the university of their choice, play collegiate sports, find jobs they want, and more. In serious cases, a juvenile might have to serve time in detention, which can disrupt their school and activities. It is important to have the best possible defense to prevent long-term impacts.

There are three different categories of juvenile offenders in Ohio:

  • Delinquent child – This label is given to juveniles found guilty of conduct that would be a crime for adults. A suspected delinquent child can be arrested and detained for six hours or longer, when deemed necessary by a judge.
  • Serious youth offender – These are juveniles of certain ages who are accused of particularly serious offenses.
  • Unruly child – This is a juvenile who engaged in conduct that is wrong due to their young age, such as truancy or refusing to submit to parental custody.

Our lawyers are supported by a highly skilled team of paralegal and support staff. From the time you first call our firm, you will receive excellent customer service and superior legal advice. Our entire team is committed to working together to deliver the best possible legal services to you during this difficult time. We will help guide your family through the process at every step of the way.

We have prepared the following Court Information Center as a resource for your family. It will provide basic information about the court and answer the questions our attorneys receive most often. Of course, we cannot answer all of your questions here, and we cannot give you legal advice specific to your child’s case. This is why it is important to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced juvenile criminal defense lawyers. Call (614) 444-1900 or visit our website to schedule a consultation.

Fairfield Juvenile Court Information Center

  1. Fairfield Juvenile Court Overview and General Information
  2. Common Criminal Charges in the Fairfield Juvenile Court
  3. Bindover Cases: Juveniles Who Are Charged as Adults
  4. Potential Penalties for Criminal Charges in Fairfield Juvenile Court
  5. Diversion For Criminal Charges
  6. Criminal Case Court Process in Fairfield Juvenile Court
  7. Underage DUI Charges in Ohio
  8. Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney For Your Child’s Juvenile Court Case
  9. Q&A for Fairfield Juvenile Court Criminal Charges
  10. Fairfield Juvenile Court Personnel
  11. Fairfield Mental Health and Family Resources
  12. Fairfield Law Enforcement
  13. Fairfield Juvenile Court Location and Contact Information

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Fairfield Juvenile Court Overview and General Information

The Fairfield Juvenile Court is located in downtown Lancaster. It is housed in the same building as the Fairfield Probate Court, so once you are inside the courthouse, be sure to follow the signs for the juvenile division.

The jurisdiction of Ohio’s juvenile courts is set forth in Section 2151.23 of the Ohio Revised Code. The Juvenile Court has the authority to hear a wide range of legal matters pertaining to juvenile children, including:

  • Protective orders for juvenile plaintiffs
  • Emancipation petitions
  • Parental consent for a juvenile to marry
  • Paternity cases
  • Child support matters that are not related to divorce, separation, domestic violence, or other legal cases
  • Requests for court approval of temporary or permanent custody arrangements that both parents have agreed to
  • Traffic tickets issued to minor drivers

In addition to these matters, the Juvenile Court also hears criminal cases involving charges brought against juvenile defendants. The court has the authority to conduct all phases of a juvenile criminal case, including arraignment, discovery disputes, accepting plea agreements, conducting trials, and sentencing juvenile defendants who have been found guilty of a crime.

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Common Criminal Charges in the Fairfield Juvenile Court

Juveniles can face accusations of delinquent acts, which are violations of criminal law. They can also face allegations of unruly acts – also referred to as status offenses – that only apply to minors. Some examples of common delinquent or unruly acts that can lead to a juvenile case include:

  • Possessing or using a fake ID
  • Underage operating a vehicle while impaired (OVI)
  • Underage alcohol possession
  • Underage drinking
  • Drug possession, distribution, selling, or cultivation
  • Theft
  • Assault
  • Domestic assault
  • Gross sexual imposition
  • Sexting
  • Rape and sexual assault
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Probation violations
  • Vandalism
  • Habitual truancy
  • Civil Protection Orders

Misdemeanor Criminal Offenses

Juveniles can be accused of violating the Ohio Revised Code and committing the equivalent of misdemeanor offenses, which can include:

  • Disorderly conduct
  • Shoplifting
  • Vandalism
  • Simple assaults (without aggravating circumstances, such as the use of a weapon or targeting a vulnerable victim)
  • Trespassing
  • Alcohol possession

Traffic Offenses

The Juvenile Court also oversees alleged traffic law violations by minors in Fairfield. These offenses can include:

  • Red light violations
  • Failure to stop at a stop sign
  • Illegal turns
  • Failure to stop and identify at the scene of an accident (hit and run)
  • Drag racing
  • Willful fleeing or evading a law enforcement officer
  • Driving on a suspended license
  • Underage drinking and driving (UDD)
  • Speeding
  • Vehicular assault
  • Following too closely
  • One-way traffic violations
  • Driving left of the center lane
  • Failure to yield the right of way
  • Failure to yield to pedestrians
  • Crossing a divided highway
  • Crossing a yellow line
  • Improper passing
  • Passing a stopped school bus
  • Driving on a closed highway
  • Dropping or placing material on a highway (littering)
  • Operating a motor vehicle with willful or wanton disregard of property or person (reckless driving)
  • Losing control of a vehicle
  • Operating an unsafe vehicle
  • Equipment violations (headlights, taillights, license plate lights, etc.)
  • Equipment misuse
  • Failure to use a seatbelt
  • Curfew violations
  • Registration, tag, sticker and title violations
  • Driving with an obstructed view (such as snow or ice on the windshield)
  • Driving with headphones
  • Obstructing an intersection
  • Too many passengers (as determined by the juvenile’s graduated driver’s license restrictions)
  • Driving without a parent in the vehicle (as determined by the juvenile’s graduated driver’s license restrictions)
  • Failure to slow down at a railway crossing
  • Failure to stop at a railroad crossing
  • Insufficient space at a railway crossing
  • Insufficient undercarriage to negotiate a railway crossing
  • Driving while using a wireless communication device under the age of 18

These are just some of the many traffic violations that a juvenile can face in the Fairfield Juvenile Court. It is important to understand that parents can also be charged if they allow an underage driver to use their vehicles or disobey the restrictions of their permit or license.

No matter what type of allegation your child faces, there can be consequences if they do not have the proper defense. Always seek help from a Fairfield juvenile defense lawyer – even if you think the matter does not seem serious.

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Bindover Cases: Juveniles Who Are Charged as Adults

While many juvenile cases involve misdemeanors and other relatively minor offenses, juveniles can also be charged with felonies. Juveniles can also be charged as adults (if the defendant is old enough, and the charges are serious enough). In certain circumstances, cases can be bound over from juvenile to adult criminal court.

Sometimes, it is mandatory for cases to be bound over, such as when:

  • The juvenile had a prior conviction of a felony in adult court
  • The child lives out of Ohio and bindover would be required in their home state
  • The child is 16 or older and faces accusations of a serious felony like murder or attempted murder
  • The child is 14 or 15 and faces accusations of a serious felony like murder or attempted murder and has a prior serious felony adjudication that required commitment to Youth Services
  • The child is 16 or older and is accused of serious offenses like manslaughter, aggravated robbery, arson, or burglary, rape, or kidnapping while possessing a firearm or having previous serious convictions

In other cases, a bindover can be discretionary based on the juvenile’s age, seriousness of allegations, prior record, and other factors.

If convicted in adult court, juveniles can also be committed to an adult detention facility. As you can imagine, this is a frightening possibility that can have drastic consequences for a teen facing serious consequences. This is why it is important to work with an attorney who has specific experience in cases involving juvenile defendants charged as adults. In some cases, an experienced juvenile defense attorney might be able to stop a case from being transferred to the adult court. 

In general, juveniles who are charged as adults can receive the same sentence as an adult would for committing the same crime. The United States Supreme Court has prohibited the death penalty or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for juvenile defendants, but other than this, your child will face the full adult sentence if he or she is charged as an adult.

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Potential Penalties for Criminal Charges in the Fairfield Juvenile Court

Juveniles can face the same fines, community service, and jail terms as adult defendants. But the Juvenile Court also has other tools at its disposal. Unlike the adult criminal court, which is mainly focused on punishing offenders, the Juvenile Court has a greater focus on rehabilitation. Prosecutors and judges in the juvenile court system will be more likely to agree to diversion programs and alternative sentences that can help a juvenile defendant stay in school and out of trouble. Here are some of the options available to the Juvenile Court at sentencing:

  • Commit the child to the custody of the court.
  • Commit a juvenile defendant to the temporary custody of any school, camp, institution, or other facility operated for the care of delinquent children. The court can also commit the child to a detention facility or district detention facility.
  • Place the child on community control under any sanctions, services, and conditions that the court prescribes. (This is the equivalent of adult probation.)
  • Order a period of community service.
  • Order a period of drug and alcohol use monitoring or participation in an alcohol or drug assessment or counseling. The court can also commit a juvenile defendant to an alcohol or drug treatment program.
  • Order curfew restrictions.
  • Order a period of house arrest.
  • Order the suspension of the driver’s license, probationary driver’s license, or temporary instruction permit issued to the child.
  • Require the child to not be absent from school without a legitimate excuse.

It is also important to understand that the consequences of a juvenile conviction do not automatically end when the defendant turns eighteen years old. Ohio law allows juvenile courts to retain jurisdiction until the defendant’s twenty-first birthday. Juvenile defendants can be kept in the custody of the Department of Youth Services until the age of twenty-one. They can also be ordered to pay fines, pass drug or alcohol tests, and perform community service after the age of eighteen. Some juvenile offenses can be expunged from a juvenile record, but others cannot. This is why it is so important for parents to seek legal advice from an experienced juvenile defense attorney. The investment of attorney’s fees can help your child have a fresh start in adulthood, without being burdened by an old juvenile criminal record.


If your child is adjudicated delinquent for a misdemeanor or felony charge in juvenile court, they could face the following penalties, which are different from those an adult offender would face:

Minor Misdemeanor

  • Fines up to $50

4th Degree Misdemeanor

  • Fines up to $100
  • Up to 90 days of detention

3rd Degree Misdemeanor

  • Fines up to $150
  • Up to 90 days of detention

2nd Degree Misdemeanor

  • Fines up to $200
  • Up to 90 days of detention

1st Degree Misdemeanor

  • Fines up to $250
  • Up to 90 days of detention

5th Degree Felony

  • Fines up to $300
  • Up to 90 days of detention for minors under age 16
  • Commitment to the Ohio Department of Youth Services for six months or until age 21
  • Discretionary SYO sentence for minors ages 16 to 17 if certain factors are present

4th Degree Felony

  • Fines up to $400
  • Up to 90 days of detention for minors under age 16
  • Commitment to the Ohio Department of Youth Services for six months or until age 21
  • Discretionary SYO sentence for minors ages 16 to 17 if certain factors are present

3rd Degree Felony

  • Fines up to $750
  • Up to 90 days of detention for minors under age 14
  • Commitment to the Ohio Department of Youth Services for six months or until age 21
  • Discretionary SYO sentence for minors ages 16 to 17
  • Discretionary SYO sentence for minors ages 14 to 15 if certain factors are present

2nd Degree Felony

  • Fines up to $1000
  • Up to 90 days of detention for minors under age 12
  • Commitment to the Ohio Department of Youth Services for one year or until age 21
  • Discretionary SYO sentence for minors ages 14 to 17
  • Discretionary SYO sentence for minors ages 12 to 13 if certain factors are present

1st Degree Felony

  • Fines up to $1500
  • Up to 90 days of detention for minors under age 10
  • Commitment to the Ohio Department of Youth Services for one year or until age 21
  • Mandatory SYO sentence for minors ages 16 to 17 if certain factors are present
  • Discretionary SYO sentence for minors ages 14 to 15
  • Discretionary SYO sentence for minors ages 10 to 13 if certain factors are present

Attempted Aggravated Murder or Attempted Murder

  • Fines up to $2000
  • Up to 90 days of detention for minors under age 10
  • Commitment to the Ohio Department of Youth Services for six to seven years or until age 21
  • Mandatory SYO sentence for minors ages 14 to 17
  • Discretionary SYO sentence for minors ages 10 to 13

Aggravated Murder or Murder

  • Fines up to $2000
  • Up to 90 days of detention for minors under age 10
  • Commitment to the Ohio Department of Youth Services until age 21
  • Mandatory SYO sentence for minors ages 14 to 17
  • Discretionary SYO sentence for minors ages 10 to 13

There is often the very real chance that your child might be detained or go to prison, so you want the highest quality of defense representation possible for a juvenile case.

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Diversion for Criminal Charges

Unlike the adult criminal courts, which are highly focused on punishing wrongdoing, the juvenile courts are more likely to work with a defendant to deter future wrongdoing. Judges and prosecutors who work in the juvenile court tend to understand the need to rehabilitate teenagers – not just punish them. Because of this, it is very common for prosecutors and defense attorneys to negotiate fair agreements and solutions in the juvenile court.

It might also be possible to keep charges off your child’s criminal record altogether through a diversion program. A diversion program is an agreement between the prosecutor and defendant. The defendant agrees to complete certain requirements (such as community service or alcohol treatment). The prosecutor agrees to dismiss the case entirely when these requirements have been met. Unlike a plea agreement, which requires the defendant to plead guilty, a diversion program results in no conviction on the juvenile’s criminal record. This helps your child access important resources in adulthood, such as credit, housing, education, and professional licensures.

In Fairfield, police officers can refer juveniles who are in trouble for the first time and facing non-violent offenses to the Juvenile Diversion Program. The program takes juveniles who are students of the Fairfield School District, who live in Fairfield, and who are between ages nine and 17.

Both juveniles and their parents must sign a Juvenile Diversion Program contract that they understand the requirements and conditions of the program and agree to participate. Parents are actively involved in the program, which might include family counseling, drug and alcohol treatment, and other aspects before the program is successfully completed. Participation in the program is expunged from the juvenile’s record at age 18.

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Criminal Case Process in the Fairfield Juvenile Court

A juvenile criminal case can be overwhelming if you do not know what to expect. By understanding how a case proceeds through the juvenile court, you will be better prepared to guide your family through this challenging time.

(1) Charging and Arraignment

Charges are filed by a prosecutor, usually on the basis of a police report. Minor charges will be accompanied by a summons to appear in court. If your child does not appear at this scheduled hearing, a warrant can be issued for his or her arrest. More serious charges might be accompanied by an arrest warrant. Your child will then be arrested and detained until he or she can appear in front of a judge.

Like adult defendants, juveniles are entitled to a formal reading of the charges against them. This is known as an arraignment. Your child’s attorney will also have the opportunity to argue for any necessary changes to pretrial release conditions. (For example, if bail has been set too high, or if your child has been ordered to stay away from a place he or she must be on a regular basis, such as the school campus.) Once these preliminary matters have been resolved, the attorneys will begin investigating the case against your child.

(2) Discovery and Disclosure

Discovery is the process of formally investigating the case at hand. Attorneys might issue subpoenas for documents, take depositions or interview witnesses, or hire an investigator to obtain any information relevant to the charges against the defendant. If either attorney finds evidence he or she intends to use at trial, it must be formally disclosed to the other attorney. This ensures that each attorney has a fair opportunity to examine the other side’s evidence and prepare a rebuttal to it.

(3) Plea Negotiations

The discovery and disclosure process not only helps prepare an attorney’s case for trial, but it also helps the attorneys to engage in meaningful plea negotiations. Disclosure helps each attorney realize the strengths and weaknesses of their own case – and more importantly, the strengths and weaknesses of their opponent’s case. A prosecutor who realizes his case is weak will be more likely to offer a favorable plea deal to the defendant (rather than taking the case to trial and running the risk of the defendant being acquitted entirely). A defense attorney who realized that her client is likely to be convicted on the strength of the prosecutor’s evidence will be able to advise the defendant to accept a plea deal with a lesser sentence than would be imposed after a conviction at trial. These are important decisions for each attorney to make. They can only make an informed decision and advise their clients properly when all relevant evidence has been exchanged properly.

(4) Pretrial Matters

If a case does proceed to trial, there could be evidentiary matters that must be resolved before trial. For example, the police might have obtained evidence without a warrant. Your child might have made a confession without understanding his or her Miranda rights. The prosecutor might attempt to subpoena evidence that is protected under other privacy laws. All of these disputes can be submitted to the judge for a ruling before trial. It is important to identify these issues before trial. If evidence is deemed inadmissible before trial even begins, it is easier to keep that evidence out entirely. If the issue is raised in the middle of trial, the issues can become confused.

(5) Trial

Most juvenile criminal cases are tried by a judge. In this “bench trial,” the judge acts as the finder of fact – not a jury. There are very few juvenile cases in which the defendant has the right to be tried by a jury of his or her peers. (These are usually serious felony cases in which the juvenile is being tried as an adult.) As in an adult criminal case, each side will present its case. The judge (or jury) then determines whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty.


If your child is found not guilty, the case is resolved without a conviction on his or her criminal record. In this case it is often possible to have the case records expunged in the future, so that your child’s criminal record will not even show that charges were ever filed. If your child is found guilty, the judge will enter a finding of delinquency in the court record. The case will then proceed to sentencing.

(6) Sentencing

If your child is facing minor misdemeanor charges, a sentence can be issued immediately after he or she is found guilty. In more complex cases, your attorney might ask the court to hold a sentencing hearing a few weeks after the trial, in order to give the attorney time to prepare a case for a lenient sentence. In either case, your attorney should be prepared to demonstrate that your child will get back on the right, law-abiding path. Family support and community resources are key, as is proof that the juvenile defendant is working hard to keep up in school. When these criteria are in place, the judge and prosecutor are more likely to agree that a more lenient sentence is appropriate. If the juvenile has dropped out of school, had multiple encounters with law enforcement, or otherwise shown a lack of respect for authority, the judge and prosecutor will likely want a stricter sentence that discourages such conduct in the future.

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Underage DUI Charges in Ohio

Section 4511.19 of the Ohio Revised Code establishes statutory DUI offenses in our state. It also sets alcohol concentrations that apply to underaged drivers. For example: if blood is being tested, the juvenile can still be charged criminally with underage DUI with a blood alcohol concentration of .02 or higher. If the juvenile driver’s blood alcohol concentration is .08 or above, the teen can face adult DUI charges. Teen drivers can also face impaired driving charges if they have taken drugs, prescription medications, or other substances that affect their ability to drive safely.

The consequences of an underage DUI can follow your child for years to come. They will stay on the teen’s driving record, and insurance rates and future traffic offenses will be adjusted accordingly.  This is why it is so important to ensure that your child is represented by an experienced juvenile defense attorney on any type of impaired driving charges.

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Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney For Your Child’s Juvenile Court Case

There are many ways in which a juvenile case can follow your child for years to come. First, the juvenile court can impose sanctions that last up to the age of 21. Second, your child’s record will not be automatically expunged if there is a conviction on it. This makes it important that you fight to prevent convictions based on improper evidence. A criminal record can make it difficult for your child to secure employment and housing, or access financial credit or higher education as an adult. The outcome of the criminal cases can drastically affect what your child’s record reflects and how that record will affect the child’s future.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is the emotional toll that a criminal case can take on your child. Juvenile detention can be a frightening and traumatic experience. There is no reason why your child should be detained on weak evidence while a prosecutor attempts to build a case. Your child should also not face juvenile detention as part of a sentence that should not have been issued. A juvenile defense attorney can fight to keep evidence out of trial, argue for an appropriate plea deal, and otherwise mitigate the consequences of a juvenile criminal case. Prosecutors and judges are willing to work with juvenile defendants to keep them out of jail. But they must be shown that the juvenile is trying to get back on track, and that he or she is not likely to commit crimes in the future. An experienced juvenile defense attorney can help protect your child’s constitutional rights throughout the criminal case process to protect him or her from an unconstitutional sentence.

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Q&A for Fairfield Juvenile Court Cases

Many parents feel overwhelmed by the criminal court process. We cannot answer all of your questions here, and we cannot tell you exactly what will happen in your child’s particular case. But we can answer some of the most common questions parents ask about the juvenile court. Here are some of the questions our attorneys receive most frequently:

What is Juvenile Court?

Juvenile Court is the judicial system that oversees cases involving minors accused of traffic or criminal violations. Juveniles will have many similar rights to defendants in adult criminal court, though there are some differences in the juvenile system. Specifically, the juvenile system focuses on the rehabilitation of minors rather than purely punitive goals.

Does my child have the right to a defense attorney?

Yes. Juveniles accused of violations have the same rights to have an attorney present as adults. Your child does not have to answer police questions without an attorney present, and they should not do so. Often, juveniles believe they are helping their situation by talking with police, when really they are complicating the matter. Instead of assuming that being “honest” or “cooperative” will help, seek defense representation as soon as possible. We can represent your child’s interests in talks with school officials, police, and other authority figures.

Has my child been charged with a crime?

Adults face misdemeanor or felony criminal charges for violations of the law. Juveniles, on the other hand, are not charged with crimes in exactly the same way. Technically speaking, juvenile cases are considered to be civil matters – not criminal. Instead of being charged and convicted of a crime, juveniles are accused of delinquent acts and are “adjudicated delinquent” if they are determined to be guilty.

Can I attend Juvenile Court with my child?

Yes – in fact, it is required that at least one parent or legal guardian is in attendance for all hearings in Juvenile Court.

Will my child have to take a polygraph (lie-detector) test?

Some Juvenile Courts in Ohio – such as in Warren County – have required juveniles to undergo a polygraph test before they can be released from detention during their case. This test is not intended to be used as evidence of guilt or innocence, but instead, to decide whether the juvenile is a threat to others or themselves if they are released while they wait for trial.

This has especially become common in cases involving school threats. The polygraph might involve questions about taking firearms to school, intending to hurt anyone at school, or having suicidal thoughts. Passing the test might convince a judge that the child should be released while their case is pending, though it does not mean their case is over and the accusations are dropped. Their case will still proceed as planned, but they will be able to wait it out at home in your custody.

Can my child plead “not guilty”?

At the first hearing of adult criminal cases, defendants state whether they plead “not guilty” or “guilty.” There is a similar process in Juvenile Court, except juveniles plead “deny” or “admit” to their allegations.

Should my child plead “deny” even if they committed the offense?

Even if a juvenile is guilty of the accused violation, it is almost always best to plead “deny” at the outset of the case. This does not mean a juvenile is lying about not committing the offense, but it means that the state will be required to present evidence against the juvenile before you decide to plead “admit.” It is never wise to plead “admit” before speaking with a juvenile defense lawyer.

If my child pleads “deny,” what happens next?

After entering a plea of “deny,” the juvenile case will be continued to a later date for trial in front of the judge. Both the prosecutor and the juvenile will have the opportunity to present evidence and witnesses. Then, the judge will decide whether the prosecutor sufficiently proved the allegations. 

Does my child need a defense attorney for trial?

It is never required that your child has a defense attorney, however, it is highly advisable that they do. The prosecutor will work aggressively to prove the allegations against your child, so you want someone aggressively defending your child, as well. This is an adversarial system, and you want a skilled advocate on your child’s side. In many cases, a defense attorney can negotiate a favorable outcome before a trial occurs.

What should my child and I wear to Juvenile Court?

It is important to look respectful and put together when you appear for court. Some people choose to dress up, but it is not required. You should always wear clean clothing without holes or stains, and avoid shorts, tank tops, crop tops, hats, t-shirts, sandals, and other overly-casual clothing. Make sure you and your child are properly groomed, as well.

Can a juvenile plead “guilty?”

As mentioned above, a juvenile will plead “admit” or “deny,” with admit being the equivalent of a guilty plea for an adult. Juveniles should never plead “admit” without first consulting with a defense attorney, as it might result in unnecessary and overly harsh consequences.

What does “adjudication” mean in Juvenile Court?

In adult criminal court, a judge or jury reaches a verdict. In Juvenile Court, the judge reaches an adjudication. The adjudication – or decision – can determine that charges should be dismissed, or that a juvenile is delinquent, an unruly child, or a traffic offender.

What is an adjudication hearing?

Before a judge can reach an adjudication decision, there must first be a hearing in Juvenile Court. This is when each side presents its evidence so the judge can reach their determination.

What does it mean to be a “delinquent child?”

When a judge finds that a juvenile is a “delinquent child,” they have decided that the juvenile committed an act that would be charged as a crime if the offender was an adult.

What is a “delinquent act?”

A delinquent act is an act that would be charged as a crime if the offender was an adult.

What is a disposition in Juvenile Court?

A Juvenile Court disposition is like a sentence issued in adult criminal court. There are different types of dispositions that are possible, and they can include one or more of the following:

  • Detention in a juvenile facility
  • House arrest
  • Curfews
  • Fines
  • Counseling
  • Community service
  • Apology letters

For serious or repeated offenses, a disposition might require the juvenile to spend time in a Department of Youth Services (DYS) facility. The judge might also issue a bindover disposition that transfers the case to adult court.

Can juveniles who are adjudicated delinquent face time in jail?

Juvenile courts try to focus on rehabilitation instead of punishment, which means they often look for other options for a disposition than detention. However, in some cases, a juvenile might be ordered to spend time in a detention center. These centers are not adult prisons, and they allow your child to keep up with school and engage in supervised socialization. For very serious offenses, a juvenile might be ordered to a Department of Youth Services facility – sometimes for several years and even until age 21.

Can a juvenile record be erased?

Many parents worry about a juvenile record affecting their child’s future. To limit the effects on a juvenile’s future, most records of offenses are sealed (made inaccessible to the public) when the juvenile turns 23. If a juvenile is charged in adult court, they will have a criminal record, and the possibility of expungement will depend on the circumstances and convictions at issue.

What is pretrial detention and why is my child detained?

If a juvenile is arrested by a police officer, they might be held in detention while their trial is pending, which is called pretrial detention. This often occurs because the judge has concerns about the juvenile’s safety or public safety if they are released. Sometimes, however, pretrial detention is unwarranted, and it is important to have a defense attorney who can argue for your child’s release while they await trial.

Can a juvenile be charged in adult criminal court?

Some juvenile cases can be transferred to adult court if certain requirements are met. These cases generally involve older teens facing the most serious charges, such as violent crimes or murder, or repeated charges. If your child’s case is bound over to adult court, they will face criminal convictions and penalties, including prison time, just like any other defendant facing similar serious charges.

Does my child have the right to a jury trial?

Unlike most adult defendants, juveniles in Juvenile Courts do not have the right to a jury trial. Instead, juvenile trials are heard and decided by a judge instead of 12 of their peers.

If my child “sexts,” does it count as a sex offense?

In many situations, sexting can be a sex offense and can result in a case in Juvenile Court. Prosecutors have become more aggressive when preventing child pornography involving middle and high school children, and this includes them sexting images of themselves. Even if the sexting is consensual, it could be considered a violation of the law since the children are underage.

Can my child be deemed a sex offender?

Juvenile courts do focus on rehabilitation of the minor, though they also aim to keep the public safe from harmful conduct by juveniles. In some situations, someone with a Juvenile Court case might have to register with a sex offender list. Additionally, for serious or repeated sex offenses, a juvenile tried in adult court might have to register as a sex offender. It is important to have the right defense attorney who can work to keep your child off the sex offender list in Ohio.

What is “competency” in Juvenile Court and how is it determined?

Competency refers to a juvenile’s ability to comprehend the case against them. In order for a prosecutor to move forward with a case, they must demonstrate that the juvenile is competent to face allegations. Generally, if a minor is at least 14 years old and does not have a developmental or mental disorder, they are assumed to be competent.

If the court doubts a juvenile’s competency, it can order an evaluation before the case proceeds. A professional will assess the matter and issue a report regarding the child’s ability to understand the allegations against them, comprehend the proceedings in court, assist in their defense, appreciate the possible consequences, and more. The case might proceed unimpeded, it might need certain accommodations, or it might be dropped against a child found to be incompetent.

What happens when a juvenile is accused of traffic violations?

Traffic violations are common in juvenile court, and these cases might result in adjudication as a juvenile traffic offender. This can mean one or more of the following:

  • Suspension of a permit or license
  • Fines and court costs
  • Restitution to victims of the offenses
  • Driving education courses
  • Community service
  • Probation

Should my child answer police questions?

No. It is never a good idea for a juvenile to speak with the police openly without defense representation. Even if the juvenile is innocent of the offense, answering questions can unintentionally cause serious problems in a case. Always speak with a juvenile defense lawyer first.

Will my child go to jail or juvenile detention?

When charges are first filed against your child, he or she will likely be summoned to court. Arrest warrants are sometimes issued for serious offenses, like sex crimes or homicide. But most of the common misdemeanors (such as truancy, trespassing, vandalism, and tobacco or vaping violations) will simply result in a summons to appear in court.

If your child is found guilty of a crime, he or she might be sentenced to a term in juvenile detention. This depends on what charges the defendant faces, how old the defendant is, and many other factors that are unique to each individual case. 

Can I get my child out on bail?

If your child faces serious cases, the court might require bail in order for your child to be released from custody prior to trial. With most minor charges, however, your child can be released into your custody with the promise to appear at future court dates. This is known as being released on your own recognizance.

Often, the court imposes other pretrial release conditions upon a juvenile defendant. He or she must not commit any further crimes while the case is pending. If the charges involve drug, tobacco, or alcohol violations, the defendant will likely be ordered to abstain from all of these substances. Your child might be ordered to stay away from the scene of the crime, designated victims, or other juveniles who were involved in the incident. If your child violates any of these pretrial release conditions, he or she could be placed in juvenile detention until trial.

Can’t my child just do community service?

There are many options for resolving a juvenile criminal case without a jail term. The prosecutor may agree to dismiss the charges after the juvenile successfully completes a diversion program (which might consist of community service). The prosecutor might also agree to a period of community supervision, which is similar to an adult probation program. This, too, might involve community service, as well as drug or alcohol monitoring, counseling, and other requirements specific to your child’s case. The options that are available to you will depend on your child’s age and the severity of the charges he or she faces. An experienced defense attorney will know how best to negotiate a fair plea agreement with the prosecutor.

How can I get copies of my child’s court paperwork?

Unlike the adult court, juvenile court records are not available to the public. This means that you cannot access court records easily online. Instead, you will need to visit the Clerk’s office and prove that you are the parent of the juvenile involved in the case. Attorneys involved in the case can also obtain copies of court filings, so you might be able to get copies of these documents from your attorney’s office as well.

Does my child need a lawyer?

Like adults, children have the right to an attorney when facing criminal charges. It is important for parents to enforce this right by hiring an experienced juvenile defense attorney to represent their children in the juvenile court. As we have seen, the consequences of a juvenile conviction can follow a child well into adulthood, and make it difficult to accomplish important tasks like securing employment or housing.

It is also important for your child to have a lawyer so that important constitutional rights are protected throughout the case process. Your child has the right against self-incrimination. Juvenile defendants do not have to testify against themselves at trial, and they do not have to make confessions to law enforcement officers. Evidence that is seized without a warrant (or valid exception to the warrant requirement) cannot be used against your child at trial. It is important that your child have an attorney who can protect these important constitutional rights.

Can my child’s criminal record be expunged?

If the case against your child does not result in a conviction, the record will usually be automatically expunged. (This is known as “sealing the record.”) This happens if the prosecutor never files charges, the charges are voluntarily dismissed, your child successfully completes a diversion program, or if your child is acquitted at trial. If your child does end up with a conviction on his or her record, you can still apply to have the record sealed in most cases. Some serious charges (such as murder, aggravated murder, and rape) can never be sealed. There is a waiting period and eligibility requirement, so be sure to consult with an attorney before you apply to have your child’s criminal record sealed.

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Fairfield Juvenile Court Personnel

Criminal defense attorneys quickly learn the importance of knowing the court personnel they interact with. These are colleagues with whom an attorney must interact with frequently on a professional basis. More importantly: even when they are on the “other side,” they have a say in determining the outcome of your child’s case. This is why it is important to work with an attorney who has experience working with the staff at the Fairfield County Juvenile Court. Here are some of the staff members our attorneys work with on a regular basis:

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Fairfield Community Resources

In adult criminal courts, the justice system is focused on punishing defendants. The juvenile courts are far more interested in rehabilitating juvenile offenders and diverting them from future illegal conduct. Because of this, it is critical that your family has all the resources it needs to help your teen stay in school and away from illegal activities in the future. Some of the most important work our attorneys do in the juvenile court is helping families access the resources they need, then proving to the judge and prosecutor that these resources will help the teen stay out of trouble in the future.

The good news is that your family does not have to face the future alone. There are many, many resources throughout Fairfield County that offer a wide range of services. Whatever your family’s needs are, it is likely that some agency will be able to help, or refer you to another service that can help you. Here are just a few of the many resources available to Fairfield County residents:

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Mental Health and Family Resources

The Recovery Center – 740-687-4500 Voice/TDD – Promoting hope, health, and healing through mental health and substance abuse treatment services and counseling.


Mid-Ohio Psychological Services – 740-687-0042 – Providing a wide range of dependency and behavioral health services for individuals and families.


Fairfield Behavioral Health Services – 740-689-6600 – The main county authority for drug and alcohol abuse services.


New Horizons / Lancaster Office – 740-687-0835 – Non-profit that partners with Fairfield County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services and Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to provide a variety of mental health services.


The Center for Family Safety and Healing – 614-722-8200 – Provides child and family counseling, as well as a variety of services to promote healthy family relationships.


The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) – 800-656-HOPE – Provides help for victims of all ages of sexual assault and sexual violence, as well as safety and prevention information.

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Fairfield Law Enforcement

Juvenile criminal cases are often investigated by local law enforcement agencies operating within county lines. While they are sometimes initiated by the Department of Job and Family Services or school resource officers, law enforcement agencies are usually the primary point of investigation for juvenile cases. Here are some of the departments you might come into contact with during your child’s criminal case:


Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office

Dave Phelan, Sheriff

Alex Lape, Chief Deputy

Emergency: 911

Main Office: 740-652-7900

Jail: 740-652-7300

Detective Bureau: 740-652-7331

Civil Division: 740-652-7320


The Lancaster Police Department

Adam Pillar, Chief

Detective Bureau (Major Crimes Unit Liaison, Property Room, Fingerprints and Annual Police Auction

130 S Broad Street

Lancaster, Ohio 43130

Emergency: 911

Non Emergency: 740-687-6680


City of Fairfield Police Department

Stephen B. Maynard, Chief

Direct Line: 513-829-8201

Phone: 513-829-8201

Fax: 513-867-6009

Emergency: 911

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Fairfield Juvenile Court Location and Contact Information

The Fairfield Juvenile Court is located in downtown Lancaster, Ohio. You can access an interactive map of the area here. To learn more about hours of operation and other administrative information, you can:

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Seek Help from an Experienced Fairfield Juvenile Court Lawyer Right Away

There is a lot at stake when your child faces criminal accusations, and you want the highest quality of defense representation to protect their future. Contact an experienced Fairfield Juvenile Court attorney who can strive for the most positive outcome in your child’s case. Contact the legal team at The Joslyn Law Firm right away for the help you need.

  • Brian Joslyn was named Best Lawyer in 2019 by Birdeye.
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  • Preeminent Attorney Award. Peer rated for highest level of professional exellence.
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