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Juvenile Legal Issues

Juvenile matters consist of delinquency, children in need of services (CHINS) and paternity actions. These cases are filed with the juvenile division of the circuit court.

Delinquency cases are initiated by the prosecuting attorney while the attorney for the Office of Family and Children generally files CHINS petitions. A paternity action may be filed by the parties or the child support division of the prosecuting attorney's office.

Pursuant to I.C. 31-30-1-1, generally, the juvenile court has exclusive jurisdiction over delinquency proceedings in which a child is alleged to be delinquent under I.C. 31-37, and which involve:

1. Offenses that would be a crime if committed by an adult except as excluded under I.C. 31-3-1.

2. Status Offenses:

a. Leaving home (I.C. 31-37-2-2),
b. Failure to Attend School (31-37-2-3),
c. Disobedience (31-37-2-4),
d. Curfew Violation (I.C. 31-37-2-5), and
e. Alcoholic Beverage Offenses under I.C. 7.1-5-7 (I.C. 31-37-2-6).

3. Acts by a child who is less than sixteen (16) years of age that would be misdemeanor traffic offenses if committed by an adult [I.C. 31-30-1-1(8)].

4. Acts by a child that would be the offense of operating a vehicle while intoxicated under I.C. 9-30-5 if committed by an adult. [I.C. 31-30-1-1(9)].

I.C. 31-30-2-1 also vests the juvenile court with exclusive jurisdiction over proceedings in which a child is alleged to be a CHINS under I.C. 31-34-1. Circumstances defining when a child is a CHINS are set forth in I.C. 31-34-1.