Juvenile Court is not like adult court. Kids don’t have jury trials. They don’t get sentenced to jail. Quite frankly, the juvenile system is warmer and fuzzier than adult court. Nowhere is this more evident that in the case of the “consent decree”.
Here’s how it works: Let’s say that you are a parent whose child has run into some trouble. A juvenile petition has been filed and you and your son or daughter have to go to court to answer for the charges. When you get there, you and your lawyer will speak with District Attorney and, with any luck, your lawyer will come back to you and tell you that you have been offered something called a “consent decree”. If you knew what was going on you would jump for a joy.
A “consent decree” is an agreement by the juvenile and the D.A. that, if the boy or girl can satisfy a list of conditions over a specified period of time (very often six (6) months), than they can come back before the court and have the whole case dismissed. Basically its an opportunity for a second chance. The second chance that adults who get in trouble don’t always get.
Conditions that need to be satisfied? Here are some examples:
- Attend school regularly
- Abstain from drinking or taking drugs
- Obey a curfew
- Hold a job
- Stay away from certain people
- Get some counseling
These are just to name a few. These conditions are not that tough. The supervision during this period is conducted by the juvenile probation department. By giving the juvenile the opportunity to enter into the decree the Commonwealth is basically telling the kid to stay out of trouble for awhile, get your head on straight, come back to court, and we’ll act like this never happened. Charges dismissed and arrest expunged. It IS that simple.
Getting the consent decree can be the hard part. To maximize the child’s opportunity to obtain one the parents should hire a Montgomery County Juvenile Lawyer who is familiar with the juvenile system. The consent decree – it doesn’t get any better.