The Juvenile Division deals with most cases where the criminal offender is under the age of 17. If, however, the juvenile is 16 years of age and is charged with a Class A-D felony, the case will be filed in the court of General Sessions where the juvenile will be treated as an adult.
The main difference between Family Court and General Sessions Court is the maximum penalties for the particular crimes. The maximum sentence for a juvenile in Family Court is an indeterminate sentence not to exceed the juvenile’s 21st birthday.
The goal of Family Court is to protect the public while attempting to rehabilitate the juvenile. Most juveniles who are non-violent, non-serious offenders remain in the community. Rehabilitation may be achieved through prevention and intervention programs such as the arbitration program, group homes, or the Department of Juvenile Justice’s Marine Institute. Unfortunately, not all juveniles can be rehabilitated. The Solicitor’s Office will attempt to place these serious, violent, and repeat offenders in long-term incarceration.