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Coordinating Criminal and Juvenile Court Proceedings in Child Maltreatment Cases

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 1996
3 pages
Publication Series
Many cases of child maltreatment involve both criminal and juvenile court proceedings, each initiated by different government entities, and each pursuing different processes that may be incompatible, inefficient, and deleterious to the child and family; to learn how jurisdictions deal with these issues, researchers talked to a nationally representative sample of 103 criminal prosecutors and 59 attorneys who represent child protection agencies in the juvenile court.
Responding prosecutors estimated that 60 percent of their child maltreatment cases were concurrently involved in juvenile court proceedings, often because a nonoffending parent was unable or unwilling to protect the child from repeated abuse by the alleged perpetrator. Conversely, child protection attorneys estimated that 13 percent of their caseloads were also involved in criminal courts. Findings show that little attention is paid to coordinating court proceedings in related cases. Following the phone survey, research visited four jurisdictions that had given special attention to the problem of coordination. All four jurisdictions had overcome potential problems with conflicting court orders in concurrent cases. Much of the credit for resolving inconsistencies went to defense attorneys, who often represented the alleged offender in both courts; probation officers, who incorporated juvenile court orders into their presentence investigation reports to the criminal court; and criminal court judges, who referenced juvenile court orders into their own orders governing pretrial release or probation. Policy implications are drawn from the findings.

Date Published: October 1, 1996