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General Information

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Washington County Juvenile Court

The Juvenile Court is responsible for adjudicating matters regarding minors. Juvenile Court cases generally fall into one of three major categories: Delinquency, Family In Need of Services (FINS), and Dependency-Neglect.

Delinquency cases are filed by the Prosecuting Attorney when juveniles from 10 to 17 years of age commit an offense that would be a crime if committed by an adult. (This does not include traffic and game/fish violations, which are handled by the District Courts.) Crimes committed by juveniles are treated differently when compared to the same crimes committed by adults. This is designed to give impressionable youth a second chance after making a mistake.

Family In Need of Services (FINS) cases are filed when a child’s behavior includes such acts as running away from home, being truant from school, or being disobedient to his/her parents. FINS cases may also include kids under 10 years of age who commit crimes, as well as kids who have mental health or substance abuse problems. The goal of a FINS case is to work out a course of action to resolve these issues. FINS cases are typically requested by a parent, law enforcement officer, or school official, but may be requested by any adult.

Dependency-Neglect cases are filed when a juvenile is abandoned, abused, sexually abused, neglected, or at great risk of harm due to parental unfitness. These cases involve the Department of Human Services (DHS). The goal of the Dependency-Neglect case is to reunite families, if it is in a child's best interest and the child can safely return home.