Juvenile Courts handle criminal matters involving children and teenagers up to 17 years old. The most common types of cases in Juvenile Court involve juvenile delinquency, which is shorthand for misdemeanors, felonies and municipal ordinance violations. Less common are cases involving youthful offenders, 14-17 years olds charged with felonies who have a prior record. The Juvenile Courts also handle cases involving children who are in need of services, such as care and protection.

According to the Commonwealth, “It is the mission of the Juvenile Court to protect children from abuse and neglect, to promote opportunities for children to reside in a safe, stable, permanent family environment, to strengthen families, to rehabilitate juveniles, to protect the public from delinquent and criminal behavior and to decide all cases fairly and impartially with dedication, integrity and professionalism.” The rehabilitative mission of the Juvenile Court differs significantly from that of the District Court, which is more punitive in nature. Juvenile Court proceedings are not public.

In Suffolk County, the Juvenile Court has locations in Boston, Chelsea, Dorchester and West Roxbury. All other counties contain at least one Juvenile Court.

If you have been summonsed to appear in Juvenile Court, you may face serious consequences! Do not hesitate to contact an attorney to help you through the process. Factors that will influence your case’s disposition include: your prior record, presence or lack of family support, and willingness to engage with social services. The earlier you contact me, the better we will be able to prepare your case.