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An Overview of the Laws Pertaining to the Department of Juvenile Justice

 I.   Creation of the Department of Juvenile Justice.
II. The Department of Juvenile Justice is a special school district.
III. Powers and Duties of the Department of Juvenile Justice.
IV. Commitment of a delinquent or unruly child to the Department of Juvenile Justice.
V. Duration of commitment for a delinquent or unruly child.
VI. Superior Court sentences applicable to a delinquent child.
VII. Minimum age is a defense to criminal prosecution.
VIII. Definition of delinquent child.
IX. Definition of unruly child.
X. Definition of child.
XI. Definition of deprived child.
XII. Transfer of child from Juvenile Court to Superior Court for prosecution.
XIII. Place of Detention.
XIV. Place of Detention for a Non-Committed Child.



 
An Overview of the Laws Pertaining to the Department of Juvenile Justice

I. Creation of the Department of Juvenile Justice.


The Department of Juvenile Justice was created by legislation in July 1992. A fifteen member policy-making board governs the Department. The board is required to establish rules and regulations for the government, operation, and maintenance of all training schools, facilities, and institutions under the control of the Department. The schools, facilities, and institutions operate rehabilitative programs that restore and improve the self-esteem and life competency of youths in order to qualify and equip them for good citizenship and honorable employment.

(See O.C.G.A. 49-4A-1, et seq.)

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II. The Department of Juvenile Justice is a special school district.


The schools within the department shall be under the control of the Commissioner who shall serve as the Superintendent of schools for the school district. The Board of the Department shall serve as the Board of Education for the school district. The schools shall meet the requirements of the law for public schools and the rules and regulations of the State Board of Education. The school records of any juvenile issued a diploma by a local school district and formerly in the Department's care shall be maintained by such local school district, provided that all references to the juvenile's commitment to the Department are expunged. The special school district under the Department shall have the powers, privileges, and authority exercised or capable of exercise by any other school district.

(See O.C.G.A. 49-4A-12)

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III. Powers and Duties of the Department of Juvenile Justice.


The Department is authorized to accept for detention in a youth development campus or other juvenile detention facility any child who is committed to the Department by the juvenile court. The Department is authorized to provide probation/parole services and casework for children and youths. When given legal custody of a child by the juvenile court, the Department is authorized to:

  • take physical possession of the child,

  • protect, train, and discipline the child,

  • provide food, clothing, shelter, and education, and

  • determine in which facility the child shall live, and provide or obtain medical, hospital, psychiatric, surgical or dental care services as may be considered appropriate and necessary by competent medical authority without securing the prior consent of parents or legal guardians.

(See O.C.G.A. 49-4A-7)

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IV. Commitment of a delinquent or unruly child to the Department of Juvenile Justice.


When the juvenile court commits a delinquent or unruly child to the Department, the court shall forward a certified copy of the order of commitment to the Department. The court, the probation officer, the prosecuting and police authorities, the school authorities, and other public officials shall make available to the Department all pertinent information in their possession regarding the delinquent or unruly child.

When a delinquent or unruly child has been committed to the Department, the Department shall examine and study the child and investigate all pertinent circumstances of his or her life and behavior. The Department shall make periodic reexaminations of all delinquent or unruly children within its control. Such reexaminations may be made as frequently as the Department considers desirable and shall be made with respect to every child at intervals not exceeding one year. Failure of the Department to examine a committed child to it or to reexamine a child within one year of a previous examination shall not of itself entitle the child to discharge from the control of the Department but shall entitle the child to petition the committing court for an order of discharge; and the court shall discharge the child unless the Department satisfies the court of the necessity for further control by the Department. The Department shall keep written records of all examinations and re-examinations subject to its control. The records shall not be public records but may be disclosed at the discretion of the Commissioner.

Whenever the Department finds that any delinquent or unruly child committed to the Department is mentally ill or mentally retarded, the Department shall have the power to return such delinquent or unruly child to the court of original jurisdiction for appropriate disposition by the court or may, if it so desires, request the court having jurisdiction in the county in which the youth development campus or other facility is located to take such action as the condition of the child may require.

(See O.C.G.A. 49-4A-8)

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V. Duration of commitment for a delinquent or unruly child.


An order committing a delinquent or unruly child to the custody of the Department shall continue in force for two years or until the child is sooner discharged by the Department. The court, which committed the child, may extend its commitment order for an additional two years.

(See O.C.G.A. 15-11-70)

An order committing a delinquent child as a designated felon shall continue in force for an initial period of five years. The child shall initially be confined in a youth development campus for a period of not less than 12 months nor more than 60 months. The child shall not be discharged from the custody of the Department until at least one year of custody has occurred. The custody of a designated felon may be extended for an additional period of twelve months provided that no initial placement or extension of custody may continue beyond the child’s twenty-first birthday.

(See O.C.G.A. 15-11-63 and 49-4A-8)

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VI. Superior Court sentences applicable to a delinquent child.


The Superior Court shall have exclusive jurisdiction over the trial of any child 13 to 17 years of age who is alleged to have committed any of the following offenses: murder, voluntary manslaughter, rape, aggravated sodomy, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sexual battery, and armed robbery if committed with a firearm. Any child convicted of one or more of the above-stated offenses shall be sentenced into the custody of the Department of Corrections. Any child 13 to 14 convicted of aggravated battery by a superior court may be sentenced into the custody of the Department of Corrections.

(See O.C.G.A. 15-11-28 and 17-10-14)

Any child who has previously been adjudged to have committed an act which is a felony if tried in a Superior Court and who, on a second or subsequent occasion, is convicted of a felony in a superior court may, at the discretion of the court be sentenced into the custody of the Department of Corrections, provided that any child convicted of a felony punishable by death or by confinement for life shall only be sentenced into the custody of the Department of Corrections.

(See O.C.G.A. 49-4A-9 and 17-10-14)

Any child convicted of a felony and sentenced as an adult to a certain term of imprisonment shall be committed to the Department of Juvenile Justice to serve such sentence in a youth development campus of the Department until such time as the child is 17 years of age. At which time, such child shall be transferred to the Department of Corrections to serve the remainder of the sentence. When any such child sentenced in the Superior Court is approaching his or her seventeenth birthday, the Department shall notify the court that a further disposition of the child is necessary. The Department shall provide the court with information concerning the participation and progress of the child in departmental programs. The Superior Court shall review the information and determine if the child, upon becoming 17 years of age, should be placed on probation, have his or her sentence reduced, be transferred to the Department of Corrections for the remainder of the original sentence, or be subject to any other determination authorized by law.

(See O.C.G.A. 17-10-14 and 49-4A-9)

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VII. Minimum age is a defense to criminal prosecution.


A person shall not be considered or found guilty of a crime unless he or she has attained the age of 13 years at the time of the act, omission, or negligence constituting the crime.

(See O.C.G.A. 16-3-1)

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VIII. Definition of a delinquent child.


Delinquent child means a child who has committed a crime under the laws of Georgia or another state (if the crime occurred in the other state) and is in need of treatment and rehabilitation.

(See O.C.G.A. 15-11-2)

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IX. Definition of an unruly child.


Unruly child means a child who is habitually and without justification truant from school; is habitually disobedient of the reasonable and lawful commands of his or her parents, guardian, or other custodian and is ungovernable; has committed an offense only applicable to a child; deserts his or her home; wanders or loiters about the streets between the hours of 12:00 Midnight and 5:00 A.M.; patronizes a bar; possesses alcoholic beverages; disobeys the terms of supervision contained in a court order; commits a delinquent act, and is in need of supervision, treatment, or rehabilitation.

(See O.C.G.A. 15-11-2)

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X. Definition of a child.


Any individual who is under the age of 17 years; under the age of 21 years, who committed an act of delinquency before reaching the age of 17 years, and who has been placed under the supervision of the court or on probation to the court; or under the age of 18 years, if alleged to be a deprived child.

(See O.C.G.A. 15-11-2)

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XI. Definition of a deprived child.


Any child who is without proper parental care or control, subsistence, education as required by law, or other care or control necessary for the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health or morals; has been placed for care or adoption in violation of law; has been abandoned by his or her parents or other legal custodian; or is without a parent, guardian, or custodian.

(See O.C.G.A. 15-11-2)

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XII. Transfer of child from Juvenile Court to Superior Court for prosecution.


The law is very specific regarding the transfer for prosecution of a child to Superior Court by the Juvenile Court. There is an age limitation for transfer – 15 years of age at the time of the delinquent offense. It should be noted that a child 13 to 17 years of age may be prosecuted in Superior Court without the need for transfer by the Juvenile Court for the following offenses: murder, voluntary manslaughter, rape, aggravated sodomy, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sexual battery, and armed robbery, if committed with a firearm. Additionally, a child who is 13 or 14 and has committed aggravated battery resulting in serious bodily injury to a victim, may be prosecuted in Superior Court upon transfer from the Juvenile Court.

(See O.C.G.A. 15-11-30.2 and 15-11-30.3)

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XIII. Place of Detention.


A child alleged to be delinquent may be detained only in a licensed foster home or a home approved by the court which may be a public or private home or the home of the noncustodial parent or of a relative; a facility operated by a licensed child welfare agency; a detention home or center for delinquent children which is under the direction or supervision of the court or other public authority or of a private agency approved by the court. A child charged as an adult and transferred to the Superior Court by the Juvenile Court or under the jurisdiction of the Superior Court may not be removed from a place of detention as set forth above unless it appears to the satisfaction of the Superior Court that public safety and protection reasonably require detention in the jail and the court so orders, but only where the detention is in a room separate and removed from those for adults and constructed in such a way that there can be no physical contact between a child and an adult offender.

(See O.C.G.A. 15-11-48)

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XIV. Place of Detention for a Non-Committed Child.


If the child is adjudicated for the commission of a delinquent act, the court may in its discretion in those cases involving: (A) a violation of probation involving another adjudicated delinquent act and upon the court making a finding of fact that the child has failed to respond to the graduated alternative sanctions set forth in paragraph (2) of this subsection; (B) an offense that would be a felony if committed by an adult; or (C) an offense that would be a misdemeanor of a high and aggravated nature if committed by an adult and involving bodily injury or harm or substantial likelihood of bodily injury or harm, in addition to any other treatment or rehabilitation, order the child to serve up to a maximum of 30 days in a youth development center, or after assessment and with the court's approval, in a treatment program provided by the Department of Juvenile Justice or the juvenile court. A child ordered to a youth development center under this paragraph and detained in a secured facility pending placement in the youth development center shall be given credit for time served in the secured facility awaiting placement. On and after July 1, 2011, the maximum number of days that the court may order a child to serve in a youth development center under this paragraph shall be increased to 60 days.

(See O.C.G.A. 15-11-66 as amended)

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