Youth Justice

The Youth Justice System serves youth who have been referred for allegations of a crime or status offense.

Court Intake Inquiry

If a youth is alleged to commit a delinquent offense, law enforcement may have the option of issuing the youth a citation or referring the youth for a Court Intake Inquiry.

A Court Intake Inquiry must occur within 40 days of receiving a Law Enforcement Referral. At this time the Youth Justice Court Intake Worker will meet with the child and parents/ guardians.  The worker will also complete the YASI Prescreen which assess the youth’s risk for re-offense as well as the youth’s protective factors. The YASI Prescreen results are used to inform the outcome recommended from the worker. The victim also has a right to submit a written statement and request restitution.

Possible Outcomes from Referral

Counsel and Close- During the intake the social worker may decide to close the case after counseling the youth. This decision may be based on services the youth may already be engaged in, the severity of the crime, the impact to the victim, and the youth’s risk and protective factors.

DPA- A Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA) is an agreement between the youth, parents/guardians, and the Intake Worker. By entering into a DPA, parents/guardians and youth will agree to conditions outlined, which may include, but is not limited to, restitution, community service, school attendance and, mental health services. An assigned social worker will meet with the youth at least monthly. DPA’s typically last for 6 months however they can be closed early or extended depending on the progress of the youth. If a youth does not comply with the conditions, the DPA can be revoked and referred for a formal petition.

Petition- A petition is a court document formally charging a youth with one or more delinquent acts. Youth will have an assigned worker, will have a series of court proceedings, and potentially could be court-ordered to be on county supervision. 

Youth Assessment and Screening Instrument (YASI)                                                              

Adams County Social Workers utilize the Youth Assessment and Screening Instrument (YASI) during the court intake inquiry, and as well throughout the youth's potential court proceedings, to assess a youth's risk level. The Youth Assessment and Screening Instrument (YASI) is an innovative juvenile risk assessment tool that measures risk, needs, and protective factors in at-risk and juvenile justice-involved youth. The YASI allows a well-informed, individual case plan to be created that is critical to the success of the youth.   

Court Proceedings

Initial Appearance (Plea Hearing) - This is the first court hearing after a petition is filed. At this hearing, a plea is entered. If the youth agrees with the information in the plea, an admission plea is entered. If the youth does not agree with all the information in the petition a denial plea is entered. If an admission plea is entered the Dispositional Hearing is scheduled. 

Status Hearing- This is an opportunity to resolve the case prior to Trial. Parties can also exchange information at this time. 

Fact-Finding Hearing/Trial- When the youth has entered a denial plea and no agreement can be reached, there is a Trial. The judge listens to all information, evidence, and witnesses to make a decision. If the youth is found to not be delinquent the case is dismissed. If the youth is found to be delinquent the case proceeds to disposition. 

Disposition Hearing- At this hearing the judge orders the youth and parents/ guardians to comply with certain obligations, including but not limited to: community service, restitution, mental health services, AODA services, and may include out of home placement. The youth may be placed on supervision through Adams County Health and Human Services.


Supervision is when the youth is court ordered to work with Adams County Health and Human Services to address concerns of the youth. Under supervision, the youth and parents/guardians must meet the obligations ordered by the court. A case plan will be developed with the youth and family to meet the obligations ordered by the court. If the youth or parents/guardians do not comply with meeting the obligations ordered by the court, the youth may be ordered back to court with sanctions.

Parents/Guardians Responsibilities

Parents/guardians have the responsibility to ensure their child is compliant with the Youth Justice System. This includes following through with any recommended services, paying any restitution, and providing care and supervision of your child. For a youth under a Dispositional Order, the judge may set conditions for the parents/guardians to comply with.

Youth Diversion Program

Youth referred for consenting sexual behavior will often be referred to the youth diversion program administered though HealthFirst and Hope House. Depending on the severity of the offense youth could be referred in lieu of legal action. Youth could also be court ordered to complete programming through HealthFirst and Hope House as part of their DPA or court order. The programming can include the following:

Aggression Replacement Training (ART)

ART is a research-based, proven-effective approach for working with challenging youth. ART is offered in a group setting which includes 3 hours a week of Social Skills Training, Anger Control, and Moral Reasoning.

In compliance with the Department of Children and Families Youth Justice Standards