In Juvenile Court, cases are heard by a judge, not a jury. However, the same Rules of Evidence that apply in Adult Court apply in Juvenile Court. In cases where a juvenile is alleged to have committed a criminal offense or is alleged to be truant or uncontrollable, the prosecution must prove that the charge is true by proof beyond a reasonable doubt. In cases where a child has been abused or neglected by a parent or when the child is a dependent child, the prosecution must prove that the charges are true by a preponderance of the evidence, meaning that the charge is more likely true than not true.
The main differences between Adult Court and Juvenile Court occur at the Sentencing or Disposition phase of the proceedings. In Juvenile Court, the Judge cannot sentence an individual to a term of incarceration or fine the individual a certain amount of money.
Possible penalties for juvenile offenses range from:
- Being placed on probation and remaining in the parental home under certain conditions
- Court ordered treatment and/or placement in a foster home, group home or other residential placement
- Commitment to the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center (Kearney or Geneva)
In abuse or neglect cases, the parent(s) is ordered to participate in a plan of services designed to correct the conditions of abuse or neglect.