The Juvenile Unit of the Fulton County Office of the District Attorney represents the State in cases where a misdemeanor or felony offense has been committed by a juvenile. The prosecutor’s responsibility is to protect the interests of the State and the community while operating within the Juvenile Court framework, which advocates the promotion of a balanced and restorative justice in an effort to redirect juvenile delinquent behavior. To that end, prosecutors make recommendations that correlate with graduated sanctions that appropriately address juvenile delinquent behavior and promote the safety of the community.
The juvenile adjudication process is different from that of Superior Court. There are a number of hearings including:
- Probable Cause Hearings – This hearing is similar to the First Appearance hearing held in Superior Court. The purpose of this hearing is to establish that there is enough evidence to proceed with adjudication.
- Adjudication Hearings – Formal hearings or trials in which juvenile delinquency cases are heard.
- Detention Hearings – Juveniles can only be held for 10 days following their First Appearance hearing. In the event the adjudication hearing is continued for legal reasons, prosecutors make recommendations concerning the detention, release, or restrictive supervision of the juvenile pending the adjudication hearing.
- Bind-over Hearings – In cases where particularly egregious offenses have been committed by juveniles, the District Attorney’s Office may pursue the option of moving the case to Superior Court to be tried there. At the bind-over hearing, prosecutors present evidence in support of this change.
- Designated Felony (DFA) Hearings – The maximum sentence for an adjudicated youth pursuant to the Designated Felony Act (O.C.G.A. 15-11-63) is five years in detention under the supervision and custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice. At this hearing, when applicable, prosecutors present evidence to support this level of sentencing.
- Drug Court – The District Attorney’s office supervises eligible offenders who have been diverted to participate in the Juvenile Court’s drug treatment program to ensure program compliance and progress.
Though Juvenile Confidentiality statutes prohibit disclosure of case specifics, this division successfully prosecutes over 6,000 cases per year.
The division is supervised by a Chief Senior District Attorney who manages a team of Assistant District Attorneys , an investigator, victim advocates and a legal assistant.