Juvenile, Family, Teen, and Drug Court

Our office represents the Commonwealth of Kentucky in certain matters involving minors. In matters that involve misconduct by a minor, the County Attorney acts in the traditional role of a prosecutor. There are two primary classes of cases which are prosecuted against juveniles. They are classified as either public offenses or status cases.

A public offense is a matter which would be considered a criminal offense if the offender was an adult. These cases may be minor misdemeanor offense or serious felony offenses. In certain very serious matters, a minor may be tried as an adult.

Status offenses include matters such as truancy, runaways, and beyond control of a parent or school. These matters are usually heard in family court, whereas the public offenses are resolved in district court.

Under Kentucky law, victims of juvenile offenders must be referred to the Court Designated Worker (CDW) for the filing of a juvenile petition. The CDW will review the matter and determine whether the juvenile qualifies for a supervised diversion program as a first time minor offender. If diversion fails or is not appropriate due to the seriousness of the offense the matter will be referred to court for prosecution. If the juvenile is a repeat offender the matter will also be referred to court.

Our Office also participates in and supports the Pendleton County Teen Court Program. In this program, Pendleton County High School students are trained in various aspects of juvenile proceedings. The students are then assigned to various positions including defense and prosecution attorneys and jurors. Juveniles charged with minor misdemeanor offenses that appear in Juvenile Court and admit their guilt may be referred to the Teen Court for imposition of a constructive sentence. The student attorneys present the facts of the case to a jury made up of high school students. After hearing the evidence the jury then deliberates and returns a recommended sentence. The District or Family Court Judge that referred the case to Teen Court then monitors the case to insure the sentence imposed by the Teen Court jury is completed by the juvenile offender. The County Attorney, Jeff Dean, supports this program and has regularly assisted with the training of the participating students.

Not all cases involving minors are the result of misconduct on the part of the minor. Unfortunately there are far too many occasions when children are not being properly cared for by their parents or guardians. And, of course, there are those sad occasions when a child is being abused mentally, physically or sexually. All children deserve safe, nurturing homes. Our office will pursue actions against those who neglect or abuse their children. Before the filing of a court proceeding, neglect and abuse cases are first investigated by the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services. In many of these cases, services are offered to assist the parent in dealing with the issues of neglect or abuse. Children will be removed from the homes of parents who cannot or will not demonstrate that they can properly care for their children. Cases involving the neglect and abuse of children are heard by the Family Court.

In some cases of neglect or abuse, one or both parents may have a substance abuse problem. Those parents may request to participate in the Family Drug Court program. After being assessed for eligibility, parents are voluntarily enrolled in the program. In Family Drug Court parents are subjected to drug testing and must attend various counseling and treatment programs. Their progress is reviewed twice a month by the Drug Court team. The County Attorney or an assistant is present at all reviews and assists the judge in the enforcement of program regulations. Parents that take part in the program have the opportunity to be reunited with their children sooner than they might otherwise have been had they not participated in this intensive program.