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Franklin County Juvenile Court

We have a proven track record of success in handling over 15,000 criminal cases and consistently awarded as one of Ohio’s top criminal defense firms. We are highly experienced Franklin County Juvenile Court lawyers. Experience matters when dealing with criminal charges in Franklin 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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Franklin County Juvenile Court

373 S High St.
Columbus, OH 43215

Highly Experienced Franklin County Juvenile Court Attorneys

When you appear in the Franklin County Juvenile Court, it is important to hire an attorney who knows the court. An attorney who knows what to expect will be better prepared to fight for your rights and win your case. Having relationships with prosecutors, judges, and court staff also helps your case run more smoothly and quickly. At Joslyn Law Firm, we know how to handle juvenile criminal cases in the Franklin County Juvenile Court. There are many different types of criminal cases that are heard there. Our attorneys are experienced in handling all these different criminal matters. We understand the procedures and personnel at the Franklin County Juvenile Court, and this allows us to provide our clients with the best possible legal representation.

Our attorneys are supported by a dedicated support staff. Our team works together to ensure that we deliver excellent legal representation to every client in every case. We keep our clients informed of developments in their cases, and explain all legal options to be sure we have selected the best strategy for your circumstances. We work hard to give our clients the best possible representation on every legal matter.

It is natural for parents to worry how a criminal conviction might have a lasting impact on their child’s life. Will a conviction affect their future educational and career aspirations? The truth is that some juvenile cases might make it difficult for your child to get into college or a collegiate athletic program, find jobs, and more. Some juvenile cases result in incarceration, which can completely disrupt your child’s life. Even without detention, your child can feel the impact of a conviction for years to come.

Ohio classifies juvenile offenders into different categories, including:

  • Delinquent child – This is a juvenile whose conduct would constitute a crime if they were an adult. Police can arrest a delinquent child and hold them for up to six hours, and the child can be detained further if a judge determines a crime might have been committed.
  • Serious youth offender – This status is for juveniles who are certain ages and who are accused of specific crimes.
  • Unruly child – This is a juvenile who acts in harmful ways, is habitually truant, or does not submit to the custody of their parent or guardian.

Juvenile criminal charges can affect a child long after he or she turns eighteen. It is important that juvenile criminal cases be handled properly in order to protect your child’s constitutional rights. Only an experienced juvenile criminal defense attorney will know how best to handle your child’s case and protect his or her legal rights. By hiring an attorney now, you are giving your child the best chances for success in the future.

This Franklin Juvenile Court Information Center is designed to provide you with a general overview of the Juvenile Court. It answers many of the basic questions you might have about this court, but you should still call the Joslyn Law Firm with any questions about your particular case. Call (614) 444-1900 for your free case evaluation.

Franklin County Juvenile Court Information Center

  1. Franklin County Juvenile Court Overview/Information
  2. Common Juvenile Criminal Charges in Franklin County, Ohio
  3. Potential Penalties for Criminal Charges in Franklin County Juvenile Court
  4. Bindover Cases
  5. Diversion For Criminal Charges
  6. Criminal Case Court Process in Franklin County Juvenile Court
  7. OVI/DUI Charge Process in Franklin County Juvenile Court
  8. Q&A About Criminal Charges in the Franklin County Juvenile Court
  9. Franklin County Juvenile Court Personnel
  10. Franklin County Juvenile Court and Legal Resources
  11. Franklin County Law Enforcement
  12. Court Recognized Drug/Alcohol and Mental Health Centers in Franklin County, Ohio
  13. Franklin County Juvenile Court Location and Contact Information

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Franklin County Juvenile Court Overview/Information

The juvenile courts of Ohio handle many different legal matters. Delinquency cases involve a juvenile who has violated a law or court order. The juvenile courts also hear traffic cases involving tickets that have been issued to minors for moving or non-moving violations. These courts also handle cases involving unruly children, abuse, neglect, and dependency of minors. Paternity cases are also heard in the juvenile court (along with related matters of custody, visitation, and child support). Because these cases involve minors, case information is not available to the public. Only authorized parties – such as the child’s attorney of record – may access case information.

The Franklin County Juvenile Court has six judges: Dana S. Preisse, Kim A. Brown, Elizabeth Gill (the current lead juvenile judge), Terri B. Jamison, James Brown, and Monica Hawkins. The Court also has four magistrates: William L. Sieloff, Nancy Novack, Lasheyl Stroud, and Stephanie Gibson. Magistrates have special authority under Ohio law to hear specific legal matters. Your case might be assigned to a magistrate for an initial appearance or pretrial matter. A criminal trial, however, must be conducted by a judge. 

Criminal charges that occur within Franklin County are filed against juvenile defendants in the Franklin County Juvenile Court. If the charges are serious, the juvenile might be arrested and detained until he or she can be brought before a juvenile court judge or magistrate for an initial appearance. If the changes are less serious, the child might simply receive a summons to appear at the juvenile court on a specified date and time. Traffic offenses against juvenile drivers are also heard at the juvenile court. Like adult drivers, the juvenile can choose to pay a fine and resolve the matter without appearing in court. But the juvenile does have the option to contest a traffic ticket. If a juvenile driver chooses to fight a traffic ticket that was issued in Franklin County, the case will be heard in the Franklin County Juvenile Court.

It is always a good idea to call the Joslyn Law Firm as soon as possible after an arrest. Your child’s legal rights can be impaired by anything they say to officers or in court. The outcome of a juvenile court case can affect a child’s education, employment, and financial opportunities for years to come. By hiring an experienced Franklin County juvenile defense lawyer, your child’s legal rights will be afforded the best possible protection.


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Common Juvenile Criminal Charges in Franklin County, Ohio

Juvenile defendants can be charged with the same crimes as adult defendants. Some statutes specifically require the defendant to be eighteen years of age or older, but other than this, juveniles are subject to the same criminal laws that adults are. This means that a juvenile can be charged with violations of local municipal codes, state statutes, and even federal crimes that prohibit terrorism and treason. These offenses can be civil traffic violations, misdemeanors, or felonies.

The Ohio Revised Code allows the juvenile court to retain jurisdiction over a defendant until the age of 21 (provided that the offense was committed and the minor was apprehended prior to turning 18). This is yet another way in which a juvenile criminal record can affect an adult. It is important to get legal advice from an experienced juvenile defense attorney before your child’s case is resolved.

Juveniles can be accused of delinquent acts, which are acts that would be crimes if an adult committed them. This can result in a juvenile delinquency charge instead of a criminal charge in regular criminal court. They can also face accusations of unruly acts, which are also called status offenses, because they only apply to people of juvenile status. These include truancy, curfew violations, running away, and more.

Some common delinquency or unruly act charges in Franklin County include:

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

Misdemeanor Criminal Offenses

The Ohio Revised Code sets forth the conduct that constitutes a misdemeanor crime. Some of the most common misdemeanors involving juvenile defendants include:

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

Traffic Offenses

The Juvenile Court also handles traffic offenses committed by drivers under the age of 18 within Franklin County. These offenses can include:

  • Failure to stop at a stop sign
  • Red light violations
  • Illegal turns
  • Willful fleeing or evading a law enforcement officer
  • Failure to stop and identify at the scene of an accident (hit and run)
  • Drag racing
  • Driving on a suspended license
  • Underage drinking and driving (UDD)
  • operating a motor vehicle with willful or wanton disregard of property or person (reckless driving)
  • Speeding
  • Vehicular assault
  • Following too closely
  • One-way traffic violations
  • Driving left of the center lane
  • Failure to yield to pedestrians
  • Failure to yield the right of way
  • 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)
  • 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 offenses that a juvenile can challenge in the Franklin County Juvenile Court. It is important to understand that parents can also be charged with wrongful entrustment of their vehicles to an underage driver. This is especially problematic if the juvenile does not have a driver’s license, or if the parent allows the juvenile to drive in violation of his or her graduated driver’s license restrictions (such as after curfew, with too many passengers, or without a parent in the vehicle). 

Ordinance Violations in Franklin County

Juvenile defendants can also be charged with violations of city ordinances. If these violations occur within Franklin County, the case will be filed in the Franklin County Juvenile Court. Cities with Franklin County include:

  • Bexley
  • Hilliard
  • Grove City
  • Gahanna
  • Worthington
  • Upper Arlington
  • Groveport
  • Grandview Heights
  • Whitehall
  • Marble Cliff
  • Obetz
  • Minerva Park
  • Valleyview
  • Riverlea
  • Lockbourne
  • Urbancrest
  • Blacklick Estates
  • Lincoln Village
  • Huber Ridge
  • Lake Darby
  • New Rome
  • Brice
  • Darbydale
  • New Albany
  • Reynoldsburg
  • Westerville

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Potential Penalties for Criminal Charges in the Franklin County Juvenile Court

Each parent’s number one concern is generally: Will my child go to jail? The reality is that some juvenile offenders can be detained in a juvenile detention facility or even go to county jail or state prison if they are tried as adults. Having the right defense can help prevent any jail time for your child and keep them in your custody and care.

A juvenile defendant’s sentence is determined by (1) his or her age, and (2) the severity of the offense. If a child is old enough and the offense is severe enough, the case may be subject to “serious youthful offender disposition.” In serious youthful offender (SYO) cases, a juvenile can receive the same sentence as an adult would for committing the same crime. The only exceptions are the death penalty or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, which the United States Supreme Court has determined to be unconstitutional sentences for juvenile defendants to receive.

If your child is adjudicated delinquent, the judge will decide on an appropriate sentence given the circumstances. Some possible penalties might include:

  • Community service
  • Probation
  • Driver’s license suspension
  • Curfew
  • Drug and alcohol monitoring
  • Drug or alcohol treatment
  • Medical or psychological counseling
  • House arrest
  • Temporary or permanent confinement to custody
  • Placement in a detention facility
  • Fines and court costs

Only juveniles who are deemed to have committed felony offenses are sent to the Ohio Department of Youth Services. For misdemeanor offenses, detention in a local facility for up to 90 days is the most serious possible penalty.

Serious youth offenders can face a combination of juvenile and adult penalties as their sentence, and the judge will consider different factors, including whether it was a violent offense, whether the juvenile has prior convictions, and whether a firearm was involved.

In a traditional juvenile criminal case not subject to SYO disposition, the juvenile will generally receive a less serious sentence than an adult would in similar circumstances. For example, a juvenile who commits murder or aggravated murder can only be committed to the Department of Youth Services until his or her twenty-first birthday. If the case were subject to SYO disposition, the same child could receive a life sentence (as long as there was the possibility of parole). This example shows the dramatic difference between a Serious Youthful Offender disposition and traditional juvenile case disposition.

In other traditional cases not subject to SYO disposition, a child can be committed to the Department of Youth Services for the following terms:

  • If the crime would be a first or second-degree felony, commitment can be for a minimum of one year and a maximum of up to the child’s twenty-first birthday.
  • If the crime would be a third, fourth, or fifth-degree felony, commitment can be for a minimum of six months and a maximum of up to the child’s twenty-first birthday.

The juvenile court can also do the following as part of a juvenile defendant’s sentence:

  • Issue any order that is authorized by section 353 of the Revised Code for the care and protection of an abused, neglected, or dependent child.
  • Commit the child to the temporary custody of any school, camp, institution, or other facility operated for the care of delinquent children by the county, by a district organized under section 41 or 2151.65 of the Revised Code, or by a private agency or organization that is authorized and qualified to provide the care, treatment, or placement required.
  • Place the child in a detention facility or district detention facility operated under section 41 of the Revised Code for up to ninety days.
  • Place the child on community control under any sanctions, services, and conditions that the court prescribes. As a condition of community control in every case and in addition to any other condition that it imposes upon the child, the court shall require the child to abide by the law during the period of community control. As referred to in this division, community control includes, but is not limited to, the following sanctions and conditions:

(a) A period of basic probation supervision in which the child is required to maintain contact with a person appointed to supervise the child in accordance with sanctions imposed by the court;

(b) A period of intensive probation supervision in which the child is required to maintain frequent contact with a person appointed by the court to supervise the child while the child is seeking or maintaining employment and participating in training, education, and treatment programs as the order of disposition;

(c) A period of day reporting in which the child is required each day to report to and leave a center or another approved reporting location at specified times in order to participate in work, education or training, treatment, and other approved programs at the center or outside the center;

(d) A period of community service of up to five hundred hours for an act that would be a felony or a misdemeanor of the first degree if committed by an adult, up to two hundred hours for an act that would be a misdemeanor of the second, third, or fourth degree if committed by an adult, or up to thirty hours for an act that would be a minor misdemeanor if committed by an adult;

(e) A requirement that the child obtain a high school diploma, a certificate of high school equivalence, vocational training, or employment;

(f) A period of drug and alcohol use monitoring;

(g) A requirement of alcohol or drug assessment or counseling, or a period in an alcohol or drug treatment program with a level of security for the child as determined necessary by the court;

(h) A period in which the court orders the child to observe a curfew that may involve daytime or evening hours;

(i) A requirement that the child serve monitored time;

(j) A period of house arrest without electronic monitoring or continuous alcohol monitoring;

(k) A period of electronic monitoring or continuous alcohol monitoring without house arrest, or house arrest with electronic monitoring or continuous alcohol monitoring or both electronic monitoring and continuous alcohol monitoring, that does not exceed the maximum sentence of imprisonment that could be imposed upon an adult who commits the same act.

  • A period of house arrest with electronic monitoring or continuous alcohol monitoring or both electronic monitoring and continuous alcohol monitoring (so long as it does not extend beyond the child’s twenty-first birthday).
  • A suspension of the driver’s license, probationary driver’s license, or temporary instruction permit issued to the child for a period of time prescribed by the court, or a suspension of the registration of all motor vehicles registered in the name of the child for a period of time prescribed by the court.
  • Commit the child to the custody of the court.
  • Require the child to not be absent without legitimate excuse from the public school the child is supposed to attend for thirty or more consecutive hours, forty-two or more hours in one school month, or seventy-two or more hours in a school year.
  • If a child is adjudicated a delinquent child for violating a court order regarding the child’s prior adjudication as an unruly child for being a habitual truant, the court can require the child to participate in a truancy prevention mediation program.

In general, the juvenile court has wide discretion to make the orders that will help a child to become law-abiding, attend school, and otherwise get his or her life on track. This means that your child might be ordered to participate in therapy or drug counseling. In some cases, the parents can also be ordered to participate in truancy programs. It is important that the court sees the whole family working together to support the juvenile defendant.

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:

Aggravated Murder or Murder

  • 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
  • Up to 90 days of detention for minors under age 10
  • Fines up to $2000

Attempted Aggravated Murder or Attempted Murder

  • 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
  • Up to 90 days of detention for minors under age 10
  • Fines up to $2000

1st Degree Felony

  • 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
  • Up to 90 days of detention for minors under age 10
  • Fines up to $1500

2nd Degree Felony

  • 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
  • Up to 90 days of detention for minors under age 12
  • Fines up to $1000

3rd Degree Felony

  • 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
  • Up to 90 days of detention for minors under age 14
  • Fines up to $750

4th Degree Felony

  • 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
  • Up to 90 days of detention for minors under age 16
  • Fines up to $400

5th Degree Felony

  • 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
  • Up to 90 days of detention for minors under age 16
  • Fines up to $300

1st Degree Misdemeanor

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

2nd Degree Misdemeanor

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

3rd Degree Misdemeanor

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

4th Degree Misdemeanor

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

Minor Misdemeanor

  • Fines up to $50

Because there is the real possibility of your child being sentenced to detention, you want an experienced juvenile defense lawyer handling the case.


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Bindover Cases

Some juvenile cases are “bound over” to adult court, which are called juvenile bindover cases. Discretionary bindovers can occur when a child is at least 14 years old and is accused of a felony offense. If the judge has the discretion to transfer a case, they will consider different factors, including:

  • How serious the offense was
  • Any prior convictions
  • Whether the juvenile would be willing to engage in rehabilitation
  • The maturity of the juvenile
  • Harm to a victim

Sometimes, however, it is mandatory for a case to be transferred to adult court. This can happen when the case is eligible for a bindover and other circumstances exist, such as:

  • There was a prior conviction of a felony in a bindover case
  • The child resides in another state and bindover would be required in that state
  • The child is 16 or older and is accused of a serious felony such as murder or attempted murder
  • The child is 14 or 15 and accused of a serious felony such as murder or attempted murder with a prior serious felony adjudication that resulted in commitment to Youth Services
  • The child is 16 or older and committed offenses like manslaughter, aggravated robbery, arson, or burglary, rape, or kidnapping while possessing a firearm or with previous serious convictions

If there is a chance your child’s case may be bound over, you want a defense lawyer who knows how to aggressively fight to keep the case in juvenile court whenever possible.


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Diversion for Criminal Charges

In some cases, a prosecutor will allow a defendant to complete a program in lieu of criminal prosecution. When this “diversion program” has been successfully completed, the prosecutor will voluntarily drop the charges against the defendant. Such programs will usually be available only to first-time, non-violent offenders.

In the juvenile court, prosecutors are often focused on helping parents get their children back on the right path. If a prosecutor sees a juvenile attending school, completing community service, avoiding drugs and alcohol, and adhering to other program requirements, he or she will be more likely to dismiss the charges against a juvenile defendant.

Franklin County Teen Court is a diversion program that accepts juveniles accused of non-violent misdemeanor offenses for the first time. This program aims to be a practical and beneficial alternative to the juvenile justice system while teaching them about how the justice system works.
Teens in the program serve as bailiffs, attorneys, or jurors for juvenile proceedings while being supervised by adults.

An attorney can assess whether your child is eligible for the Teen Court program, and eligibility requires:

  • Being 11 to 17 years old
  • Accused of a misdemeanor offense
  • Not having prior offenses
  • Admitting to the offense
  • Parent or guardian consent
  • Commitment to five weeks of program involvement
  • Court approval

There are different requirements for a child to successfully complete the program, which are:

  • Apologizing to victims
  • Completing community service
  • Researching violated laws and writing an essay
  • Alcohol and drug counseling
  • Online educational programming
  • Serving as court personnel for other juvenile cases

This program is considered to be a much better alternative to detention, fines, and other traditional penalties.

Diversion programs are an excellent way to keep criminal charges off your child’s record. It is important to consult with an experienced juvenile criminal defense attorney about the possibility of a diversion program. If diversion is not available in your case, there may be other options available to mitigate the consequences of a criminal conviction on your child’s juvenile record.


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Criminal Case Process in Franklin County Juvenile Court

The criminal case process can be overwhelming to adults, even if they have been through the system before. A juvenile defendant facing adult legal professionals for the first time is likely to be intimidated by the process. Help your child understand the procedure that will be followed in his or her criminal case:

  • Complaint: A prosecutor must file a complaint setting out the allegations against you in order to initiate a criminal case. For serious cases, a warrant can be issued for your child’s arrest. In cases involving less serious charges, your child will simply receive a summons to appear at the juvenile court on a particular date and time. In cases involving accusations of traffic offenses or OVI/DUI, the ticket you receive serves as the complaint.

If your child is arrested and brought to the Franklin County Juvenile Detention Facility, he or she will be brought before a judge or magistrate within 24 hours of admission (excluding weekends and holidays). This is an important legal right that protects a child from being held without proper cause. 

  • Arraignment: Like adults, juvenile defendants have the right to hear the charges against them. An arraignment is a hearing at which the defendant is entitled to a formal reading of the charges against him or her. Though the formal reading is usually waived (as you have a written notice of the charges), this is still an important court date that can affect your child’s legal rights. The court will ask if your child wishes to plead guilty or delinquent. Once your child does so, the allegations against him or her are considered to be true. The case is also advanced beyond the trial phase to proceed directly to sentencing. This is why it is important to consult with an experienced juvenile defense attorney before your child’s arraignment.

In addition to an arraignment at the juvenile court, your child might also have to appear at an administrative hearing at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. The BMV handles driver’s license issues arising from moving violations, underage drinking charges, and other traffic offenses.   

  • Discovery: Like adult defendants, juveniles have the constitutional right to confront the evidence against them. This means that the prosecutor must disclose all evidence and witnesses against you to your attorney before your case can go to trial. The rules of evidence also require you to disclose your witnesses and evidence to the prosecutor before trial. The attorneys conduct this process in an orderly manner that is regulated by federal rules of evidence, state law, and local discovery rules. During this process, the attorneys also engage in negotiations to see if the case can be resolved through a plea agreement.

 

  • Pretrial hearing: The pretrial process can sometimes take weeks or even months. During this time, there may be pretrial hearings. These administrative conferences are an opportunity for the court to check with the parties and attorneys about the progress of the case. If there are evidentiary disputes or other legal issues, the court can schedule other hearings to resolve them.

 

  • Motion hearing: It may be necessary to file motions in your case. Perhaps the case should be dropped altogether, and a motion to dismiss is necessary. Or perhaps the police illegally seized evidence without a warrant. In this case, we might need to file a motion to suppress the evidence and keep it out of trial. There are many legal issues that can arise before trial.

 

  • Trial: Many cases get resolved in the pretrial stages. If, however, the assigned prosecutor will not offer a reasonable plea deal, it might be necessary to take your child’s case to trial. Juvenile defendants have no constitutional right to a trial by a jury of their peers. (This was decided by the United States Supreme Court in 1971.) Ohio state law does, however, provide a juvenile with a right to a jury if he or she is being tried as a serious youthful offender. In all other juvenile cases (as well as serious youthful offenders who waive the right to trial by jury), the case is tried by a judge. This is known as a “bench trial.” In a bench trial, the judge acts as the fact finder.

 

  • Sentencing hearing: Sentencing hearings are held separately from trials. This gives your attorney an opportunity to review the sentencing report prepared for the prosecutor and present evidence of any mitigating circumstances. Your attorney can prepare an effective legal argument for a lighter sentence. This can make a dramatic impact on your child’s future.

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Warrants for Criminal Charges in Franklin County

In general, it is easier for law enforcement officers to find minors than adults. Children can be easily tracked through their schools or parents. For this reason, it is unusual for a minor to have an outstanding warrant that he or she does not know about. It is, however, possible. It is also possible to receive a traffic ticket in the mail that is sent to the wrong address or lost for other reasons. Some teens are simply too scared to tell their parents they have received a traffic ticket. In all these scenarios, the unanswered summons can have problematic consequences for the teen later in life. Unpaid traffic fines can lead to the suspension of a driver’s license. Unresolved juvenile court cases can remain open. Court summons that are not answered can result in a bench warrant being issued for the child’s arrest.

If your child is facing the consequences of an unanswered court summons or traffic ticket, you don’t have to sort the problem out on your own. Let an experienced juvenile defense attorney advise you of the best way to resolve the outstanding charges against your child. Bench warrants can be quashed by appearing at the juvenile court and addressing the underlying case against the child. Traffic matters can be resolved by paying fines or by scheduling an administrative hearing with the BMV. There are many different ways to resolve both the underlying offenses and the consequences of failing to answer the summons. It is important to consult with an attorney about the best method of doing so in order to protect your child’s legal rights throughout the process.


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Q&A About Franklin County Juvenile Court Criminal Charges

The following are some brief answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding the Franklin County Juvenile Court. For information regarding your specific situation, please contact our office to consult with a defense attorney directly.

What is Juvenile Court?

Juvenile Court handles cases involving accusations against minors that they have violated traffic or criminal laws. While the court procedures and rights for juveniles are similar to criminal court, there are important differences. For example, juvenile courts do not focus solely on punishing juveniles for committing crimes, but instead aim to rehabilitate them to prevent future misconduct.

Does my child have the right to a defense attorney?

Yes. Like adults, juveniles have the right to remain silent and the right to be represented by an attorney. This includes during questioning and conversations with police officers, school officials, or others who are investigating a possible crime. If your child speaks to officials without representation, there is a good chance they will say something that is detrimental to their case. Many parents assume that being cooperative and honest (without an attorney) looks better for their child, when it is always best to have defense representation from the very start.

Has my child been charged with a crime?

While your child might be charged with an act that would be a crime for an adult, charges and convictions do not happen in the same way they would in adult criminal court. Instead of misdemeanor or felony charges, your child will be accused of delinquent acts. Furthermore, instead of being convicted of a crime, your child might be adjudicated delinquent if they are found guilty.

Can I attend Juvenile Court with my child?

Yes. It is necessary for at least one of the juvenile’s parents or legal guardians to attend all hearings and proceedings with them.

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

There are some Ohio Juvenile Courts that have been using polygraph tests for juveniles, though not to prove or disprove the charges at issue. Instead, judges have been using these tests to decide whether it is safe to release a juvenile from detention while their case is pending.

Specifically, if allegations involve threats of violence, a polygraph can be used to ask whether a child would bring a weapon to school, want to hurt others, or want to hurt themselves. If they pass the test, there is a good chance the judge will release them to wait for their trial. However, this will not play a role in the actual case, and allegations will not be dropped based on the polygraph results.

Can my child plead “not guilty”?

While adult defendants plead “guilty” or “not guilty” to charges, juveniles will plead that they “admit” or “deny” their accusations.

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

You might assume that if a juvenile is guilty, they should “admit” to the offense right away, though this is almost never a good idea. Pleading “deny” does not mean that your child is lying that they did not commit the offense. Instead, a “deny” plea simply requires the prosecutor to present evidence before the juvenile decides to admit to the allegations. Your child should never plead “admit” before having the advice and representation of a defense attorney. 

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

Once your child pleads “deny” to the allegations, the Juvenile Court will set a date for a trial in front of the judge. The prosecutor will present their evidence, and your child’s defense lawyer will present evidence and witnesses in their defense. The judge will then rule whether the prosecutor proved the allegations.

Does my child need a defense attorney for trial?

The law does not require that you hire a defense lawyer. However, always remember that this is an adversarial system, and you can bet the prosecutor will work hard to prove the accusations against your child. For this reason, you want to have someone aggressively advocating for your child’s rights and defense. In addition, it might be possible for a skilled juvenile defense attorney to negotiate a deal with the prosecutor out of court to prevent a trial.

What should my child and I wear to Juvenile Court?

You do not need to dress up for court, but you certainly can if you choose. At the minimum, you should look presentable and clean, and wear clothes that are clean and free from stains or holes. Avoid overly casual clothing like tank tops, ball caps, shorts, sandals, or t-shirts, and ensure you are well-groomed. Your attorney can give more specific advice based on the rules of the court.

Can a juvenile plead “guilty?”

Juveniles do not plead guilty, but they can plead “admit” to the allegations. However, as discussed above, it is never wise to plead admit without first discussing your case with a juvenile defense attorney.

What does “adjudication” mean in Juvenile Court?

Instead of a case ending in a verdict, a juvenile case ends with an adjudication, which is the judge’s decision. This decision can deem your child as delinquent, unruly, or a traffic offender, or it can dismiss the case.

What is an adjudication hearing?

In order for a judge to reach an adjudication, they must hear evidence from the prosecutor against the juvenile, as well as evidence the juvenile presents in their defense. This process occurs during a proceeding called an adjudication hearing.

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

If your child is adjudicated as delinquent, it means the court decided they committed an offense that would be considered a crime if an adult committed the act.

What is a “delinquent act?”

This is an offense that would be considered a crime if an adult committed the act.

What is a disposition in Juvenile Court?

Just as a judge issues a sentence in an adult criminal case, a Juvenile Court judge issues a disposition. This disposition can include many things, including:

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

For juveniles found guilty of serious offenses or if they are repeat offenders, the disposition might include time in a Department of Youth Services (DYS) facility, or it might send the case to be heard in adult court.

Can juveniles who are adjudicated delinquent face time in jail?

Juveniles with cases in Juvenile Court will not go to jail or prison like adults, and judges often try to find other options than detention. However, some juveniles might need to spend time in a detention center or in a Department of Youth Services facility. For particularly serious offenses, a juvenile might be detained until age 21.

Can a juvenile record be erased?

Criminal records – even as juveniles – can take a toll on someone’s future in many ways. Fortunately, most juvenile records are sealed at age 23, which means the public can no longer access the information. If a juvenile is convicted in adult criminal court, they might be eligible for an expungement depending on the charge.

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?

If a case meets certain criteria, it can be transferred from juvenile court to adult criminal court. These cases generally involve older teens who are accused of murder or other serious offenses, or who are repeat offenders. Once a case is bound over to adult court, your child faces the same possible penalties as other adult offenders, so it is imperative to have an aggressive defense attorney.

Does my child have the right to a jury trial?

The law does not give the same rights to a jury trial to juveniles as it does to many adult defendants. Juvenile trials are heard and decided by a judge, which is often called a bench trial. 

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

Sexting might seem harmless if it is consensual, though sexting between minors might violate child pornography laws. In such cases, juveniles might find themselves facing serious sex offense allegations for sexting.

Can my child be deemed a sex offender?

Juvenile courts want to keep the public safe from minors who might violate the law, and this particularly applies to sex offenses. Minors might have to be included on a list as a sex offender, especially if they are detained or in certain institutions. If a juvenile is convicted for a sex crime in adult court, they will likely have to register as an Ohio sex offender. It is critical to mount an aggressive defense to sex-related charges to prevent this.

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

In order to face juvenile proceedings, a minor must be mentally competent to understand the nature of what is happening, how to help their defense attorney, the possible consequences, and more. This is referred to as “competency.” In most cases, if a minor is 14 years old or older with no known mental or developmental disorders, they will be presumed competent.

If the court questions competency, the juvenile will undergo an evaluation with a qualified professional. The professional will issue a report to the court whether the minor is competent, needs accommodations, or is incompetent to face proceedings.

What happens when a juvenile is accused of traffic violations?

Many cases in juvenile court involve traffic violations, and your child might be adjudicated as a juvenile traffic offender. Some consequences might include:

  • Permit or license suspension
  • Driver education course
  • Fines, court costs, and possible restitution
  • Probation
  • Community service

Should my child answer police questions?

No. Even if a child did not do what they are accused of doing, speaking to the police without a lawyer present can make a case more challenging. Police have a way of getting information they can use against your child, so it is always best if they stay silent, and you call a juvenile defense attorney to represent them. 

What is the Franklin County Juvenile Court?

The Franklin County Juvenile Court is one of many juvenile courts across the state authorized by the Ohio Revised Code. The courts have the authority to hear many matters concerning children, including:

  • Custody, child support, and visitation between unmarried parents
  • Child abuse and neglect
  • Unruly child matters
  • Truancy issues
  • Criminal matters involving juvenile defendants
  • Traffic issues involving teen drivers under the age of 18 

How does the actual court process work?

Much of the criminal process is the same in the juvenile court as it is in the adult courts. Once the prosecutor files a complaint, a defendant will need to appear at an arraignment and plead not guilty, no contest, or guilty. Depending on how the defendant pleads, the case will proceed to pretrial negotiations, a bench trial, or directly to sentencing.

There are some key differences in the juvenile court, however. A juvenile only has the right to a jury trial if he or she has been charged as a Serious Youthful Offender. All case filings remain confidential, and can only be accessed by authorized parties (such as the child’s attorney). It is important to hire a juvenile defense attorney who understands these differences and can effectively use them to protect your child’s legal rights.

What are the possible consequences if a child is convicted of a crime?

If a child is charged as a Serious Youthful Offender, he or she can receive the same sentence an adult would in the same circumstances (except for the death penalty or life in prison without parole). Children who are not charged as SYOs can be committed to the Department of Youth Services until their twenty-first birthday. (This is because the juvenile court can only retain jurisdiction over a child until the age of twenty-one.) The length of a child’s sentence will be determined both by his or her age and the severity of the offense committed.

The juvenile court also has the authority to make other orders at sentencing. It is common for juvenile defendants to be ordered to attend school, to perform community service, or to attend counseling. These and similar orders are intended to help a child “stay on track” by getting an education and abiding by the law. 

My child is guilty as charged. Should we just go to the juvenile court and plead guilty or admit my child is delinquent?

No. There are many reasons why this is not a good idea. First, your child has important constitutional rights, and only an experienced lawyer will know how best to protect them. Even if you believe your child has committed the offense, it is still the prosecutor’s burden to prove this. The law enforcement officers involved in the case must also follow the law in collecting evidence or interrogating your child about the offense. If they fail to do so, that evidence is not admissible against your child. The prosecutor may not be able to prove his or her case without this evidence.

The biggest problem with pleading guilty before an attorney reviews your case is that it limits your legal options. Pleading guilty stops the discovery process. It creates many legal presumptions: that your child did commit the offense, that the police did collect evidence properly, and that the prosecutor could prove his or her case at trial. Once you plead guilty, your own attorney cannot challenge these presumptions. It also prevents you from negotiating a fair plea deal – that opportunity is lost if you have already pled guilty. Once you have pled guilty, the prosecutor has the power to ask for the maximum sentence under the law. It is the possibility of pleading guilty that acts as an incentive for prosecutors to make a fair plea agreement.

In short, it is absolutely critical that you have an experienced juvenile defense attorney review your child’s case before pleading guilty or admitting delinquency.

Where is the Franklin County Juvenile Court located?

The Franklin County Juvenile Court is located at: 

Franklin County Court of Common Pleas – Division of Domestic Relations and Juvenile Branch

373 South High Street

6th Floor

Columbus, Ohio 43215

Court hours are Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Can I appeal a juvenile court decision?

You can appeal a decision of the Juvenile Court by filing a notice of appeal within thirty days from the time the judgment is issued. If the Court of Appeals accepts jurisdiction, you will have the opportunity to appeal specific legal issues in that court.

There are very specific rules of appellate procedure, and legal precedent for issues that can be appealed. It is important to work with an attorney who is experienced in juvenile appeals before making the decision to file an appeal from an order of the Juvenile Court.

How can I look up my criminal record from a criminal charge in the Juvenile Court?

Juvenile court proceedings are kept confidential by law. This means that only authorized parties are allowed to view case documents. To view juvenile court records, you will have to go to the court and prove that you are the parent or child involved in the case. Your attorney of record will also have access to juvenile court documents.


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Franklin County Juvenile Court Personnel

At Joslyn Law Firm, we are highly familiar with all the personnel at the Franklin County Juvenile Court. We work with them regularly on our client’s cases. Some personnel who may be involved in your case include:


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Franklin County Juvenile Court and Legal Resources

The Franklin County Domestic and Juvenile Court offers many important resources to the public. These resources can help parents and families dealing with criminal charges in the Juvenile Court. They include:

Franklin County Court – Juvenile Branch – This is the court that oversees juvenile cases, detention, and other family programs in the Franklin County area. Visit the website for more information about juvenile offenses, detention centers, forms, and more.

Ohio Department of Youth Services – This is the department that serves as the main juvenile corrections system in Ohio. The Youth Services department is in charge of detention and confinement for juvenile offenders.

Mediation Services – This includes mediation programs and options for domestic relations, juvenile victim offenders, domestic violence, and cases of abuse and neglect

Civil Protection Orders / Juvenile Protection Orders – this is the process for obtaining a restraining order on behalf of a juvenile.

Interpreters – This service helps juveniles and their parents who need language translation and assistance during the Juvenile Court process.

Self-Represented Resource Center – This is a walk-in resource center for those who do not have their own attorney.

eFiling – This allows parties to cases and their attorneys to file documents, motions, and other requirements for the case online.

Child Support Enforcement Agency Liaison – This is a court employee who coordinates activities between the Child Support Enforcement Agency and the Juvenile Court on cases involving past due child support.

Recovery Court – Providing services to parents who are at risk of losing custody of their children due to addiction.

Youth Education & Intervention Services – This resource helps try to prevent juveniles from going further into the Juvenile Justice System through education, prevention, intervention, and treatment for youth and families.

Teen Court Program – A diversion program where first-time, misdemeanor juvenile offenders receive a sentence from other teens and keep charges off their formal record.

Restorative Justice Circles Program – This is another diversion program option in Franklin County.

School Truancy Services – This department keeps track of habitual truancy in Franklin County, issues warnings and formal complaints, as well as provides education on school attendance and excused absences.

Unruly Youth Services – Provides interventions and services for parents, guardians, and legal custodians of unruly or incorrigible children aged 11 to 17.


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Franklin County Law Enforcement

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office provides law enforcement, court security, and county corrections services.

Address: 

373 South High St.

Columbus, Ohio 43215

Phone: 614-525-3333

 

The City of Columbus Police Department serves about 800,000 people throughout the area to protect and provide law enforcement services.

Address: 

120 Marconi Blvd

Columbus, OH 43215

614- 645-4545

The Ohio State Patrol conducts investigations and promotes safety throughout the State of Ohio

Address: 

Columbus District Headquarters

2855 West Dublin-Granville Road

Columbus, OH 43235

Phone: (614) 799-9241

Fax: (614) 799-9250

Or

1970 West Broad Street

Columbus, Ohio 43223


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Court Recognized Drug/Alcohol and Mental Health Centers in Franklin County, Ohio

Second Chance Counseling Center – Provides driver education courses, outpatient groups, individual counseling, and intensive outpatient treatment for adolescents and adults.

Directions Counseling Group – Provides counseling and substance abuse treatment for children, adolescents, and adults.

Crossroads Recovery Services – Provides counseling services to help adolescents and adults fulfill court-ordered treatment requirements.

Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services – Helps with addiction treatment for court-involved individuals, as well as other family support and mental health services.

Maryhaven – Provides behavioral health and addiction treatment for adults and adolescents, including court-related programs.


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Franklin County Juvenile Court Location and Contact Information

Franklin County Juvenile Division

373 South High Street, 6th Floor

Columbus, Ohio 43215

Phone: (614) 525-3628

You can access directions to the Juvenile Court here.


Consult with an Experienced Franklin County Juvenile Court Attorney as Soon as Possible

When your child faces criminal allegations as a juvenile, the stakes are high. You need a criminal defense attorney on your side who has experience defending young clients in Franklin County Juvenile Court. 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.
  • Columbus CEO magazine has yearly selections for the best attorneys in Columbus Ohio. Brian Joslyn has been identified as one of the most highly skilled attorneys across central Ohio.
  • Brian Joslyn has earned recognition for community leadership by Lawyer LegionLawyer Legion
  • Preeminent Attorney Award. Peer rated for highest level of professional exellence.
  • The Better Business Bureau (BBB), founded in 1912, is a private, nonprofit organization whose self-described mission is to focus on advancing marketplace trust.

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