LEGAL PRACTICE IN THE JUVENILE COURT
Legal practice in the Juvenile Court is restricted by law to attorneys who are licensed by the Supreme Court of Ohio. If an individual wishes to handle his or her own case, he or she may do so; however, they may not represent others. Due to the complexity of the law and the desire to avoid costly errors, most individuals who have filings before the Court are represented by an attorney. Deputy clerks are prevented by law from practicing law and, therefore, are not permitted to give advice.
Delinquency is the allegation that a minor (a person under the age of 18) has committed an act that would constitute a crime if the act was committed by an adult (other than a juvenile traffic offender). In Sandusky County, a law enforcement agency will complete a Complaint charging a youth with a delinquent act. The Complaint is forwarded to Sandusky County Prosecutor’s Office for review. If the Prosecutor’s Office decides to prosecute the juvenile, they will file the Complaint at the Sandusky County Juvenile Court.
Assisting the public in becoming familiar with the terminology used in Juvenile Court is beneficial. Some of the common terminology is as follows:
Juvenile Courts seek to rehabilitate juvenile offenders rather than punish them by taking the “best interest” of the juvenile into consideration. Consequences for delinquent behavior depending upon the severity of the charges may include probation, fines, court cost, community service, commitment to the Juvenile Detention Center (similar to jail as an adult), residential treatment or possibly commitment to detention in the State of Ohio’s Department of Youth Services (similar to prison as an adult).
Unruly children are sometimes referred to as status offenders because of their status as a minor. A juvenile is said to be “unruly” when they will not follow the rules of the home, school or community. Some examples of unruly behavior is violating curfew, truancy, running away from home and conduct that may endanger the health or morals of the juvenile or community.
Complaints on unruly behavior shall be directed to the Sandusky County Prosecutor’s Office for review. If the Prosecutor decides to pursue prosecution, they will file the Complaint at the Sandusky County Juvenile Court.
Sandusky County Juvenile Court has developed local forms to assist in DELINQUENCY/UNRULY filings as follows:
HOW DO I CHANGE MY COURT DATE?
If you are represented by an Attorney, contact your Attorney and they will file a Motion for Continuance.
If you are unrepresented and receive a notice for a hearing and you are unable to attend due to a conflict in your schedule, you can ask for a continuance. Generally, continuances are only granted if you are unable to attend due to an emergency situation. You must file a Motion for Continuance to the Court (by fax 419-334-6210, in person or by mail) when possible at least seven days prior to your scheduled hearing. The address for the Sandusky County Juvenile Court is: 100 N. Park Ave., Fremont, OH 43420. Once the Motion is filed the Judge/Magistrate will make a decision to grant or deny the Motion. The Court will notify the party of the decision prior to the date of the hearing.
HOW CAN I GET A COURT APPOINTED ATTORNEY?
For an Alleged Delinquent Child you can request a Court Appointed Attorney by filing a Financial Disclosure Form with the Sandusky County Juvenile Court in person, by mail (100 N. Park Ave, Fremont, OH 43420), or by fax (419-334-6210). The Judge or Magistrate reviews each application and makes a determination of eligibility based on State of Ohio guidelines. If a party qualifies for a Court Appointed Attorney, they will be notified by mail of the Attorney’s name and contact information.
For an Alleged Unruly Child the juvenile does not qualify for a Court Appointed Attorney. If you feel an Attorney is necessary, you may retain one privately.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SEALING A RECORD AND EXPUNGING A RECORD?
When a record is sealed it is removed from the Court’s main records to a separate secure location. Only the Court and a few other government agencies are able to see the sealed juvenile record.
When a record is expunged it is completely removed from the Court and destroyed. The record no longer exists.
HOW CAN I SEAL MY RECORD?
According to the Ohio Revised Code Section 2151.356, certain offenses are eligible for sealing once all dispositional orders are satisfied for more than six months (if you were placed on probation for an offense, six months after your probation was terminated) you are eligible to file a Sealing Application. You may have to attend a hearing in order to have your record sealed; in that event, you will receive a hearing notice. If a hearing isn’t required, you will receive a Judgment Entry granting or denying the sealing application. If your application is granted and your record is sealed, it will automatically be expunged five years after the sealing of the record or age 23, whichever comes first. If your application is granted, be sure to hold on to the Judgment Entry for your records.
HOW CAN I EXPUNGE MY RECORD?
If your record is sealed, it will automatically be expunged after 5 years of the date of sealing or age 23, whichever comes first. You must have your record sealed before you can have it expunged. If you don’t want to wait the 5 year time period or until the age of 23 after the record is sealed, you can apply to have the record expunged by filing an Expungement Application. If your record is granted to be expunged, be sure to hold on to the Judgment Entry for your records, as the Court will destroy the Judgment Entry as part of the Expungement and will not be able to reproduce a copy at a later date.
ARE THERE ANY RECORDS THAT ARE SEALED AUTOMATICALLY?
The following records are sealed automatically:
I AM THE VICTIM OF A CRIME…HOW CAN I GET INFORMATION REGARDING A CASE?
If you are the victim of a crime you can contact the Victim Advocate at (419) 334-6119 who works for the Sandusky County Prosecutor.
HOW DO I CHANGE MY ADDRESS?
It is very important to notify the Court every time you move. In order to change your address file the Change of Address form with the Court.