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Children In Need of Services "CHINS" Cases:
This area of juvenile law is much like the "Unruly" area in the old law.In CHINS cases in juvenile law in Georgia, the court is dealing with a child who has not, and will not, obey their parent(s), and the court must intervene to assist the parent(s) in controlling the behavior of the child. In these types of cases, a crime doesn't necessarily need to have been committed – the focus in unruly types of cases is the unruly and (usually) uncontrollable behavior of the child. The court has broad discretion in CHINS cases in issuing orders that protect the child, discipline the child, or direct the parents or guardian(s) of the child to do certain things for the benefit of the family and/or child. CHINS cases also includes cases when the child is "habitually disobedient." The new law in this area was changed (among other things) to better clarify the law; to allow several different persons or entities (such as schools) to file a complaint regarding a child; and to generally safeguard the rights of the child and parents in a case.
SUMMARY OF JUVENILE LAW IN GA
This area of juvenile law is much like the "Deprivation" area in the old law. In this area of juvenile law in Georgia, the juvenile court is dealing with a child that may be in danger of being deprived or harmed in some way. The juvenile court has broad jurisdiction to place a deprived child into the custody of any family member who can care for the child, or the court can place the child in the custody of the state until such time as a proper and safe home can be found for the child. The juvenile court is mainly concerned for the best interest of the child in dependency cases. The new law made changes in such procedures and rules in this area of juvenile law as timeliness of hearings; presumptions in favor of unsupervised visitation of the child with parents (unless such is not in the best interest of the child); and even clarified the role of Court Appointed Special Advocates in the process.
Although this area of Georgia juvenile law kept the same name, the law was updated quite a bit. Under the new Georgia juvenile law, delinquency cases are the equivalent of criminal cases for adults. Most crimes committed by persons under 17 at the time the crime was committed, stay in juvenile court. If the person committed what is called a “designated felony act,” then punishment is more severe, and, in some cases the case may be sent to the Superior Court for prosecution. The new law provides for "Class A" and "Class B" felonies, and the punishment is different in those categories. The judge in juvenile court has very broad discretion to take custody of the child, sentence the child to the custody of the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice, release the child to their parents, etc. Punishment in a delinquency case can range from an “informal adjustment” (which is the equivalent of a “dismissal” in adult criminal law), to being sentenced to the custody of the local Youth Development Center (which is the equivalent of adult jail). There are no jury trials in the juvenile courts in Georgia. All cases in juvenile court are heard only by the juvenile court judge.
The Juvenile Courts in Georgia have jurisdiction over all persons age 16 or under. The determining factor is the age of the accused (or dependent) person at the time that the incident occurred.
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