Juvenile Cases in Missouri: The Informal Adjustment Hearing…
If you are under age 17, you may find yourself charged with a crime and receive a notice that you must attend an informal adjustment hearing. Those three words can be very intimidating, especially given that the instructions will clearly state that you have the right to have an attorney present along with your parents at the hearing.
The reality of the informal adjustment hearing is that it is a great opportunity to resolve what you have been charged with without having to get the courts involved. That is because youth under 17 in Missouri are referred to the Family Court and not the Criminal Court.
The result the Court wants in informal adjustment hearing cases in Missouri is for delinquent or criminal behavior to be corrected, for your parents to get involved in making sure this happens and for the community around you to be protected by this correction. An informal adjustment hearing is conducted by a Deputy Juvenile Officer (a “JDO”).
If you’ve received a notice for an informal adjustment hearing, what you have been charged with is not likely to be serious. They are common in cases of school truancy, where children runaway or break curfew or some other minor offense.
At the hearing, you, your attorney and your parents can enter into an agreement where expectations for you going forward are discussed. Conditions of your behavior might be agreed to and you’ll be expected to follows those explanations. Essentially, it’s an opportunity for you to correct your behavior before your behavior causes you to really get into serious trouble through formalized charges.
For this reason, it’s a great idea to take advantage of the informal adjustment hearing process. Our office can meet with you and your parents before the meeting, let you know what to expect and a probable result of the hearing. We can also call the DJO for your hearing in advance to discuss the particulars of your upcoming hearing.
At the hearing, we can ensure that you understand what is expected of you and work with the DJO for an outcome with a maximum benefit to you.
If you have received a letter stating you must attend an informal adjustment hearing, give our office a call. We can usually assist you and your parents with an affordable flat fee.