Juvenile Court FAQ and Information

IDJC Handbook for Families

What happens when a juvenile is accused of a crime?

When a juvenile is accused of what would be a crime if he or she was an adult, it brings him or her under the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Corrections Act. In these situations, the responding officer may either warn the juvenile, issue the juvenile a citation, or refer the juvenile to the Bonneville County Prosecutor’s Office for formal charges. When a juvenile is given a citation, he or she will be given a date to appear in court. A citation is commonly issued for traffic offenses. When the officer refers the juvenile’s case to the Bonneville County Prosecutor’s office, the Deputy Prosecutor assigned to the juvenile cases will decide how to best handle the case. The Deputy Prosecutor may choose not to file any charges, to send the juvenile to some kind of out-of-court diversion program, or to file formal charges against the juvenile in a document called a Juvenile Petition. The Deputy Prosecutor’s decision to divert or file formal charges is discretionary and is largely based on the juvenile’s prior record and the circumstances of the alleged conduct. When a Juvenile Petition is filed, the juvenile and his or her parent or guardian must appear before a magistrate Judge to either admit or deny the charges.

What is Diversion?

In general, diversion is when the Deputy Prosecutor elects to use out-of-court services and resources as an alternative to filing formal charges. The Deputy Prosecutor may also “divert” a case after a citation or a Juvenile Petition is filed. The Judge may also divert citations at the Admit/Deny Hearing. When a matter is “diverted”, the juvenile is referred directly to Bonneville County Juvenile Probation. Diversion is a voluntary, out-of-court program generally available to juveniles who have committed a first-time misdemeanor or status offense. Juveniles who are “diverted,” are assigned a Juvenile Probation Officer (“JPO”) with whom they sign a diversion agreement. Diversion Agreements may include community service, restitution, apology letters, classes, counseling, written assignments, random drug testing, curfew, etc. Diversion Agreements never include detention. Another diversion option is Youth Court. Juveniles referred to youth court appear before a panel of peers, who decide the case disposition. Juveniles referred to Diversion may refuse to participate. If a juvenile is offered Diversion, but he or she declines Diversion or fails to complete his or her Diversion Agreement, the case will be referred back to the Deputy Prosecutor for formal handling. See I.C. § 20-511.

What happens when a Juvenile Petition is filed?

After the Deputy Prosecutor files a Juvenile Petition with the Court, the Court Clerk mails it to the juvenile and his or her parent(s) or guardian(s). The juvenile is given a hearing date to appear before the Judge. The juvenile and his or her parent(s)/guardian(s) should appear to this hearing and all other hearings. This hearing is called an Admit/Deny Hearing. If the juvenile admits that the charges in the Juvenile Petition are true, then the case proceeds to the Sentencing/Disposition Hearing. If the juvenile denies that the charges in the Juvenile Petition are true, then the case will be set for a Pre-Trial Conference. If, after the Pre-Trial Conference, no settlement is reached, then the case will proceed to an Evidentiary Hearing, or court trial. If the Juvenile Petition is found true, either in whole or in part, then the case will proceed to the Sentencing Hearing.

Can a juvenile be “arrested?”

Juveniles are not arrested like adults. However, a juvenile may be taken into custody and placed in detention. The detention center for Bonneville County is called 3B. When a juvenile is taken to 3B, the court will have a Detention Hearing within twenty-four (24) hours, excluding weekends and holiday. In order to hold the juvenile in detention, the Deputy Prosecutor must file a Juvenile Petition and the Judge must sign a detention order. The juvenile’s parent or guardian is expected to attend this hearing. At the Detention Hearing the Judge may: release the juvenile to his or her parents; and/or place the juvenile on a Home Detention Order; and/or place the juvenile on a Pre-Trial Release Order; or hold the juvenile in detention pending further proceedings. Juveniles do not have a right to bail. See I.J.R. 7 & 23 and I.C. § 20-516.

Can a juvenile be charged as an adult?

A juvenile may be charged as an adult in several instances. If a juvenile is over fourteen (14) years of age or older and commits certain violent offenses (ex. murder, robbery, the full list of offenses appears in I.C. § 20-509(1)), then he or she will automatically be charged as an adult. If a juvenile commits any other offense and is fourteen (14) years of age or older, the Deputy Prosecutor may ask the court to waive juvenile jurisdiction and send the case to adult court. In that instance, the Deputy Prosecutor would generally have to show that the facilities and resources available through the juvenile justice system would be insufficient for the particular juvenile.

See I.C. § 20-508

What will the punishment be in a juvenile case?

The Juvenile Corrections Act does not talk about punishment. Any disposition of a case should promote the goals of the juvenile justice system, which are: accountability, community protection, and competency development. To that end, the Judge has numerous tools available to him or her, such as: commitment to the Department of Juvenile Corrections, detention, probation, restrict driving privileges, community service, classes, counseling, treatment, etc. The juvenile and his or her parent(s) or guardian(s) may also be responsible for restitution to any victims or have to pay court or probation fees. For most first-time offenders, the Judge will order a Social Summary, which gives background information about the juvenile: family life, education, friends, hobbies, substance abuse issues, mental health needs, etc.; so that he Judge may give a proper sentence in the case.

See I.C. § 20-520

What happens when a juvenile is put on Probation?

Rather than ordering commitment or detention, the Judge may order that a juvenile complete a period of probation. Juveniles on probation are supervised by a Juvenile Probation Officer (“JPO”) and have certain requirements and limitations. For example, juveniles have to “check in” with their JPO, submit to searches, submit to random alcohol and/or drug testing, abide by a curfew set by probation, etc. If a juvenile violates the rules of probation, then he or she may be ordered to serve some days in detention or face other increased sanctions.

Do juveniles have the same rights as adults?

Juveniles generally have the same constitutional rights (ex. right to remain silent, right to an attorney, etc.) as adults. In some instances, juveniles are afforded more protections, due to their age. For example, juveniles under age fourteen (14) or those over age fourteen (14) who are charged with a felony level offense are automatically appointed a Public Defender. See I.J.R 9.

Are juvenile cases kept confidential?

As of July 1, 2017, all newly filed juvenile cases are exempt from public disclosure by the court. See I.C.A.R. Rule 32. Cases that go through Diversion do not appear on a juvenile’s record because there is no court case started.

How does one get a juvenile record expunged?

Most juvenile cases are eligible for expungement after certain time limits have been reached. If a juvenile has committed a misdemeanor level or status offense, or has had his or her case dismissed due to an informal adjustment, then the juvenile’s case is eligible for expungement either: one (1) year after the juvenile’s probation is over or the juvenile turns eighteen (18) years old, whichever is later. If the juvenile has committed a felony level offense, then the time limits change to either: five (5) years after the juvenile’s probation is over or the juvenile turns eighteen (18) years old, whichever is later.

Expungement is not automatic. The juvenile must request that the court expunge his or her record. Expungement packets for juveniles are available from the court.

See I.J.R. 28 and I.C. § 20-525A.

Do parent(s) or guardian(s) have any requirements when their child goes through juvenile court?

Parent(s) and/or guardian(s) who have a child go through juvenile court have requirements, too. A parent/guardian must accompany the juvenile to each court hearing. When a Juvenile Petition is found true, parent(s) and/or guardian(s) will have other requirements. Parents/guardians are financially liable for their child’s juvenile court/probation fees and for any victim restitution. Parents/guardians will be ordered to encourage and enforce their juvenile to be compliant with probation rules. They may also be ordered to complete parenting classes or obtain evaluations. Parents/guardians will be required to maintain a home free of illegal substances and criminal activity. See I.C. §§ 20-520(3) and 20-522.




Admit/Deny Hearing

At this hearing, the juvenile and his or her parent(s)/guardian(s) are informed of their rights, the charges in the Juvenile Petition, and the potential consequences of admitting the petition is true. The juvenile then either admits or denies the charges in the Juvenile Petition. See I.J.R. 6.


Commitment means “[t]o transfer legal custody.” In the juvenile court realm, it means to transfer custody of the juvenile to the Department of Juvenile Corrections (“DJC”). DJC then makes placement and treatment decisions for the juvenile while they have custody.

See I.C. §20-502(12) and (14).


Detention is a temporary, secure placement.

See I.C. § 20-502(6).

Detention Hearing

The hearing held within twenty-four (24) hours after a juvenile is taken into custody.

See I.J.R. 7 and I.C. § 20-516.

Deputy Prosecutor

An attorney employed by Bonneville County who reports directly to the elected Bonneville County Prosecutor.


An out-of-court, informal alternative to handling a juvenile’s conduct. “[T]he prosecuting attorney may utilize the diversion process and refer the case directly to the county probation officer or a community-based diversion program for informal probation and counseling.”

See I.C. § 20-511.

Evidentiary Hearing

An Evidentiary Hearing is the same as a court trial in front of the magistrate judge.

See I.J.R. 15 and I.C. § 20-519.


The removal of a case from public records. See I.C. § 20-525A.


Felony level conduct includes any conduct that would be a felony crime, were the juvenile an adult. The maximum amount of detention days for felony level conduct is one hundred and eighty (180) days. The Judge retains other sentencing/disposition options. See I.C. § 20-520(1)(d).

Home Detention Order

An order entered by the court that a juvenile shall not leave home unless authorized. Essentially, home is used as the detention center. The court will issue a written order with all the terms specified.

Informal Adjustment

A type of probation where a juvenile’s case may be dismissed if he or she successfully completes all the terms and conditions of probation, with no additional offenses. See I.C. § 20-511.


Juvenile court is presided over by a magistrate judge.

Juvenile Corrections Act (“JCA”)

This is the legislative act, found in I.C. § 20-501, et. al., granting jurisdiction to the court to handle juvenile cases.


Generally, a juvenile is a person under eighteen (18) years old. A juvenile may also include an individual who was under age eighteen (18) at the time an offense was committed.

See I.C. §§ 20-502(10) and 18-101A(13)

Juvenile Petition

A written allegation filed with the court that a juvenile committed either a status offense or what would be a misdemeanor or felony, if the juvenile were an adult. See I.C. § 19-501.

Juvenile Probation Officer (“JPO”)

A Juvenile Probation Officer, or JPO, is a person employed by Bonneville County and trained to oversee juveniles on probation. The JPO is charged with assisting the court to hold the juvenile accountable by ensuring the juvenile completes his or her court ordered conditions of probation.

See I.C. § 20-510


Misdemeanor level conduct includes any conduct that would be a misdemeanor crime, were the juvenile an adult. The maximum amount of detention days for misdemeanor level conduct is ninety (90) days. The Judge retains other sentencing/disposition options. See I.C. § 20-520(1)(c).

Pre-Trial Conference

This is a meeting set so that the Deputy Prosecutor and attorney for the juvenile may discuss the case merits and decide if the case will go to trial or settle in some other way. The juvenile and his or her parents/guardians are required to attend this hearing.

See I.J.R. 12

Pre-Trial Release Order

In lieu of a juvenile remaining in detention, the court may issue an order that the juvenile may be released, but supervised by Bonneville County Juvenile Probation Pre-Trial Release Officer while his or her case is pending. The court will issue a written order with all the terms of release.


Probation is a community-based program imposed as an alternative to detention. Probation includes being supervised by a Juvenile Probation Officer (“JPO”), who ensures that the juvenile complies with the court-ordered terms of probation.

See I.C. § 19-2601.

Public Defender

An attorney employed by Bonneville County to represent indigent defendants or juveniles at public expense. The juvenile and/or his or her parents/guardians may be required to reimburse Bonneville County for the services of a Public Defender. See I.C. §§ 19-851 and 19-854.


Restitution is money ordered to make the victim of a crime whole. It includes actual monetary damages. Restitution must be paid first, before court and/or probation fees. All juveniles who are ordered to pay restitution should make a restitution payment plan with their JPO.

See I.C. § 19-5301, et. al.

Sentencing/Disposition Hearing

Sentencing/Disposition is when the Judge makes a decision and sets out the terms of what the juvenile will do as a consequence for his or her conduct. Sentencing/disposition may include commitment, detention, probation, etc.

See I.J.R. 17 and I.C. § 20-520.

Status Offense

An offense that is prohibited because of a juvenile’s status as a minor only. The maximum penalty for a status offense is thirty (30) days in detention. The Judge retains other sentencing/disposition options.

See I.C. §§ 20-516(c) and 20-520(1)(b).


Important Contact Information


Bonneville County Courthouse

605 N. Capital Avenue

Idaho Falls, Idaho 83402

(208) 529-1350

Bonneville County Prosecutor’s Office

605 N. Capital Avenue

Idaho Falls, Idaho 83402

(208) 529-1348

Bonneville County Public Defender’s Office

605 N. Capital Avenue

Idaho Falls, Idaho 83402

(208) 529-1350

Bonneville County Juvenile Probation

883 Shoup Avenue

Idaho Falls, Idaho 83402

(208) 528-5600

3B Detention Center

950 Environmental Way

Idaho Falls, Idaho 83401

(208) 542-2947


Flowchart of a Juvenile Case 


Bonneville Map

Bonneville County

605 N Capital Ave
Idaho Falls, ID, 83402
Phone: (208) 529-1350