Wildflowers bloom in the Sierra Nevada
Wildflowers bloom in the Sierra Nevada


First Impressions:  You need to present yourself in a positive way to the Judge.  The Judge will be making decisions about your future and things that are important to you such as:  your freedom, where you live, your driver’s license and your money.

  • Hats
  • Anything referring to sex, violence, cigarettes, drugs or alcohol
  • Hooded sweatshirts, Winter coats
  • Cell phones or pagers
  • Tank tops
  • Pajamas
  • Flip flops
  • Shorts
  • Short miniskirts
  • Shirts that show any of your belly or cleavage
  • Pants that show your underwear
  • Untied sneakers or shoes
  • Anything dirty, or with holes or patches
  • T-shirts (wear a shirt with a collar)
  • Weapons of any kind (including pocket knives)
  • No cigarettes in wallet, purse or pockets
  • Facial piercings
  • Please cover any visible tattoos

Talking to the Judge: In addition to what you wear, how you behave in front of the Judge matters.

  • Stand up when you talk to the Judge
  • Do not slouch or lounge in the chair
  • Speak loud enough for the Judge to hear you
  • Make eye contact with the Judge
  • Do not mumble to the Judge or under your breath
  • Do not say ‘Yeah’ ‘Nope’ or ‘Huh?’  Use appropriate words, like “Yes, Ma’am” or “Yes, Sir”
  • Never show anger in the courtroom, it does not help your position and can hurt your case instead.  Let your lawyer do the arguing for you. 


  • Smoke cigarettes near the Court.  Even outside, somebody from court can see you.
  • Discuss your case with your friends. 
  • Talk about the party you just went to or how hung over you feel.
  • Talk about things you have gotten away with.


  • Arrive to court on time.
  • Stay focused on what is happening in court.
  • Be respectful towards everyone you meet in court – including police, judges, lawyers, witnesses and other kids.
  • Treat this like the important event that it is. 


At this hearing, you must answer the petition that contains the charges that have been filed against you.  (You will not proceed to this step if you have taken informal consequences). The petition is the official document that alleges facts that bring you within jurisdiction of the juvenile court.   You must meet with your lawyer before going to the plea hearing.  Your lawyer will represent you at the plea hearing.  Usually, you answer your petition one of two ways:

  1. ADMISSION:  If you admit that the allegations in the petition are true, this is called an admission.  The court will then give you consequences at a dispositional hearing.  Sometimes you are given your consequences the same day you admit the petition.  Other times you will have to come back for another court date. 
  2. DENIAL:  If you deny the allegations in the petition, then the Judge will set your case for an adjudicatory hearing, otherwise known as a TRIAL. 

At the trial, the Judge will listen to the lawyer’s arguments from both sides of the case: the prosecution and the defense.  Your lawyer can question witnesses against you and bring to court witnesses or evidence that helps your case.  You have the right to remain silent during the trial.  After the trial is over, the Judge decides whether or not the allegations in the petition have been proven against you. 


At this hearing, the Judge decides what your consequences will be.  The probation office assigned to your case may present the Judge and lawyers with a report called an “Assessment Narrative”.  This report will include the probation officer’s recommendations for what your consequences should be. 
During this hearing, the prosecutor may add their recommendations.  Your lawyer will be able to argue on your behalf about what kind of consequences you should get.  You will have a chance to speak, and so will your parent or guardian, before the Judge decides your consequences. 
You and your lawyer can also introduce helpful evidence (such as report cards, school or treatment records, counselor’s statement, family testimony, proof of employment, letters of recommendation, etc.) to support your position.  

Potential Dispositional Conditions:

Juvenile probationary supervision with the following conditions:

  • Work crew or community services hours
  • Psychological or psychiatric evaluation
  • Individual or family counseling
  • Mandatory school clause
  • Participation in mental health or substance abuse treatment services (residential or outpatient)
  • Fines (these are rare)
  • Participation in classes run by the probation department, such as Victim Awareness, Family Wellness, Basic Skills, Job Training or Anger Management
  • Driver’s license suspension
  • Random drug/alcohol testing and search and seizure for drugs/alcohol/weapons
  • No contact orders with certain people or places
  • Restitution to victim
  • Letter of apology

OR:  Commitment to the Division of Child and Family Services for a correctional placement.