Two types of court proceedings under the IL Juvenile Court Act, are 1) abuse, neglect, or dependency proceedings; and 2) delinquency proceedings.
Abuse, Neglect or Dependency Proceedings
The court proceeding in an abuse, neglect or dependency matter usually starts by the state's attorney filing a petition for adjudication of wardship. The first court hearing is a temporary custody hearing at which the judge determines if there is probable cause that the child is abused, neglected or dependent. Probable cause is a low burden which the state must meet. The court will either find there is no probable cause and the case is dismissed. Or, the court will find probable cause and then the court must decide if there is urgent and immediate necessity to remove the child from the home. The court also determines if reasonable efforts were made by DCFS to avoid removing the child from the home.
The matter is then set for adjudication hearing or trial. During this hearing the state must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the child was abused, neglected or dependent. Witnesses for the state, the child's attorney, and the parents' attorney may testify.
The next hearing is a disposition hearing. During this hearing the court determines whether each parent is fit, willing and able to care for the child. If so, the court will return the child to the parent(s) and may keep the case open for monitoring. If the court determines that the child may not be safely returned to the home, then the court will make the child a ward of the court.
Thereafter there are permanency hearings to determine the best goal for the child. Several goals can be entered. They range from return home to termination of parental rights. At issue is whether the parents have successfully completed the services required of them (such as parenting class or individual therapy) and whether the child will be safe if returned to the home.
In delinquency proceedings the state files a petition for adjudication of wardship alleging that the child has committed an act, which as an adult, would be a violation of the IL Criminal Code.
There is a detention or shelter care hearing to determine whether probable cause exists that the child is a delinquent, whether the child can be released to his parents or legal guardian. At the adjudication hearing, or trial, the state must prove that the child committed the alleged crimes beyond a reasonable doubt. A child can receive dispositions, or sentences, ranging from supervision to detention. At the disposition hearing the child may or may not be made a ward of the court.
***This is only a brief overview of juvenile law. This is not intended to be legal advice. You should contact a lawyer to discuss the particulars of your matter and determine what legal action should be taken. ***