Judge, Juvenile Police Officer, and Probation Officer

Judge, Juvenile Police Officer, and Probation Officer

Kaplan University


Judge, Juvenile Police Officer, and Probation Officer

The following case study involves Charlie, a ten-year-old boy who has been charged with several counts of shoplifting at a local convenient store. Charlie was caught by a juvenile police officer, the items he stole exceeded one hundred dollars, and this is the first time he has been in juvenile court. By evaluating the role of the juvenile court judge, the juvenile police officer, and the juvenile probation officer an individual will be better able to determine how each appointment impacts Charlie as well as the hypothesized outcome of Charlie’s case. Although the judge, juvenile police officer, and probation officer are separate roles within the juvenile justice system each role has similarities and differences and all roles intertwine when considering the case of a juvenile delinquent. It is important for individuals to be aware of these similarities and differences; however, it is more imperative for individuals to recognize how each of these roles contributes to the placement, consequence or treatment, and aftercare of Charlie within the juvenile justice system and upon completion of his sentence in a juvenile facility if applicable.

While the juvenile police officer and the juvenile probation officer have influential roles within the juvenile justice system it is the judge that ultimately decides the fate of a juvenile after considering the information provided to him or her by the police officer, parents, probation officer, the prosecutor (if applicable), and the juvenile. According to VandenWallBlake (2013) the role of the judge is important in that the judge either enforces the placement of the juvenile or enforces treatment through court orders. Given all of the information the judge receives regarding the juveniles delinquent act or status offense as well as other factors and input, the judge decides if the child should be removed from the care and custody of his or her parents as well as makes a final decision regarding a treatment plan that addresses the child’s needs and attempts to reduce the juveniles participation in criminal or delinquent activity. Salekin (2015) indicated that upon received all pertinent information related to the juvenile and the juvenile’s case, the judge then balances what the juvenile needs for rehabilitation against the juvenile’s risk to societal safety. The juvenile court judge weighs all information related to the juvenile’s case and then utilizes his or her discretion to determine the best response to the juveniles criminal or delinquent action using his or her discretion.

A juvenile court judge also has the responsibility of deciding whether or not a juvenile should remain in the juvenile justice system or be waived into the adult judicial system. Benekos, Merlo, and Puzzanchera (2013) indicated that judicial waivers had at one point been the primary method used to determine a juvenile’s fate in the juvenile judicial system. Although it is widely known that within the juvenile justice system the judge’s decision can either positively or negatively impact the future of the juvenile it should also be noted that the police officer, prosecutor, and juvenile probation officer determine the juvenile’s delinquent status even before the judge is granted the opportunity for a review of the case. The probation officer and police officer can heavily affect the outcome of the case against the juvenile (Bonnie & National Research Council, 2013) and the judge incorporates all of their recommendations and opinions into his or her final opinion. A juvenile court judge has a lot of responsibility and must consider a wealth of information when deciding the judicial fate of a juvenile delinquent.

The roles of police officers are to prevent crime and apprehend those responsible for criminal acts, which contributes to keeping the whole of society safe and this ideology applies to juveniles as well. A police officer is the first individual the juvenile will come into contact with upon committing a status offense or criminal act. Nanda (2012) stated that a police officer may choose to give the juvenile a warning or can issue the juvenile a “notice to appear”, depending on the circumstance. The juvenile police officer has the opportunity to speak with the juvenile, the juvenile’s parents, and the individual or entity that the juvenile committed the offenses against; therefore, the police officer is granted a unique assessment that contributes to the overall judicial decision on how to best handle the offense as well as the juvenile. According to Zimring and Tanenhaus (2014) most police officers are required to create databases and files on the juveniles that either have committed or are believed to commit criminal offenses in the future. While some can view this gathering of information as negative, this information allows the officer a better opportunity to make a knowledgeable decision on the future of the juvenile within the judicial system.

Police officers have a pivotal role and responsibility when coming into contact with status offenders or juvenile delinquents and the opportunity for various strategies can largely depend on the severity of the offense as well as the police officer’s discretion. Police officers use of discretion can be viewed as negative; however, there are some positive outcomes that can arise from an officer’s discretion such as civil citations. According to Arya (2014), the use of youth civil citations for low-level offenses can offer the juvenile a chance at not receiving an arrest record as well as referrals that can address the juvenile or family’s needs. According to Bonnie and the National Research Council (2013), another strategy available for a police officer’s use is referring a juvenile’s parents to a community-oriented program as an alternative strategy for at risk youth. Essentially the role of the juvenile police officer is to assess the overall situation and then based on his or her findings decide what the judicial systems next course of action should be for the juvenile.

The juvenile probation officer is the final aspect in what can be described as the juvenile judicial system trilogy, which encompasses the juvenile court judge, the juvenile police officer, and the not yet explored role of the juvenile probation officer. Probation is the medium between incarceration and rehabilitation and according to Ahlin, Lobo Antunes, and Tubman-Carbone (2013) it serves as a means to enforce public safety and rehabilitation of the offender. According to Cox, Allen, Hanser, and Conrad (2013), a juvenile probation officer can arrange for a preliminary conference, which can, if the terms are agreeable to both parties, result in settling the matter out of court. This can be beneficial for the juvenile because he or she can receive a consequence that allows for the juvenile to pay restitution, via cost or deed, without having to go in front of a juvenile justice judge. In short a juvenile probation officer is responsible for ensuring that the juvenile has access to and takes advantage of services which can assist the juvenile in areas that contribute to a reduction in recidivism rates, offers the juvenile an opportunity to right their wrong through means of negotiation on the juveniles behalf, and recommends a restrictive environment setting if the juvenile is not complying.

One can view the role of a juvenile probation officer as a multi-dimensional responsibility in that not only does the probation officer, as a representative of the juvenile justice system, have to assist in creating the conditions that allow juvenile to remain in society but he or she also has the responsibility to monitor the progress of said juvenile. According to Mays and Ruddell (2012) the probation officer has the responsibility of ensuring that the juvenile is abiding by the conditions imposed by the probation office and the judge. This requires that the probation officer monitor the progress and the compliance of the juvenile, which can be a daunting task to a probation officer with a very heavy caseload. Every probation officer must balance their responsibility as enforcers of judicial rule with the responsibility of being a mentor, protector, counselor, and all while remaining professional. The juvenile probation officer is essential to the juvenile justice system because he or she ensures the juvenile complies with court orders, which can prove to be beneficial to the juveniles future and contributes to a reduction in recidivism as well as an increased awareness of positive outlets to address the root causes of delinquency.

The similarity between the role of a juvenile judge, police officer, and a juvenile probation officer is the shared responsibility. According to NeMoyer, Goldstein, McKitten, Prelic, Ebbecke, Foster, and Burkard (2014), if a juvenile fails to comply with his or her probation requirements the judge then has the discretion to determine what is the next appropriate action for the juvenile’s case. The same can be said for a police officer that recommends the juvenile appear in front of a juvenile judge; ultimately the decision on how to handle the juvenile’s case and future rests with the juvenile judge. While each of these juvenile justice representatives have their own roles often times their responsibilities intertwine and in essence are co-dependent on one another. This codependency is pivotal in ensuring that the juvenile receives the proper consequence based on the delinquent act and this trilogy of representatives set the tone for the juvenile’s success through means of intervention and follow up.

Finally, given all of the information provided an individual can reasonably hypothesize what the juvenile justice system; specifically the juvenile court judge, the juvenile probation officer, and the police officer will do regarding Charlie’s delinquent act of shoplifting at the local convenience store. The police officer will most likely choose to release Charlie to his parents and refer the family to therapy or counseling given that this is Charlie’s first offense; however, if the convenience store informs the officer that they wish to prosecute Charlie for his offenses then the juvenile will be detained while the prosecutor decides how he or she wishes to pursue with Charlie’s case. Given the nature of Charlie’s offense and the fact that this is his first time in juvenile court it is likely that the prosecutor will impose unofficial probation, which allows Charlie the opportunity to avoid prosecutorial proceedings so long as he abides by the sanctions imposed on him (Cox, Allen, Hanser, & Conrad, 2013). Charlie would then be appointed a juvenile probation officer along who will monitor that Charlie is abiding by the restrictions and completing mandated programs. Overall, so long as Charlie abides by the juvenile justice system’s orders he will avoid becoming further involved in the juvenile justice system.


Ahlin, E. M., Lobo Antunes, M. J., & Tubman-Carbone, H. (2013). A Review of Probation Home Visits: What Do We Know?. Federal Probation, 77(3), 1. Retrieved from http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.lib.kaplan.edu/eds/detail/detail?sid=f728458d-6f8c-44fd-80b3-7c186a3f34c6%40sessionmgr4005&vid=8&hid=4102&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmU%3d#db=f5h&AN=94602821http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.lib.kaplan.edu/eds/detail/detail?sid=f728458d-6f8c-44fd-80b3-7c186a3f34c6%40sessionmgr4005&vid=8&hid=4102&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmU%3d#db=f5h&AN=94602821

Arya, N. (2014). FAMILY-DRIVEN JUSTICE. Arizona Law Review, 56(3), 623-706. Retrieved from http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.lib.kaplan.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=f13354fb-da08-4f1f-88ab-b5e60e8a3170%40sessionmgr4005&vid=43&hid=4102

Benekos, P. J., Merlo, A. V., & Puzzanchera, C. M. (2013). In defense of children and youth: reforming juvenile justice policies. International Journal Of Police Science & Management, 15(2), 125-143. doi:10.1350/ijps.2013.15.2.307. Retrieved from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.lib.kaplan.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=33&sid=8b419a22-2fd3-4f05-a880-e81ffa7d4d44%40sessionmgr111&hid=108

Bonnie, R. J., & National Research Council, (. (U.S.). (2013). Reforming Juvenile Justice: A Developmental Approach. Washington, District of Columbia: The National Academies Press. Retrieved from http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.lib.kaplan.edu/eds/ebookviewer/ebook/bmxlYmtfXzg2Nzg4MF9fQU41?sid=36ca57a8-2ca7-4932-8f1a-4879041c68b5@sessionmgr4002&vid=10&format=EB&ppid=pp_80

Cox, S. M., Allen, J. M., Hanser, R.D., & Conrad J. J. (2013). Juvenile Justice: A Guide to Theory, Policy, and Practice, 8th Edition. [Vital Source Bookshelf Version]. Retrieved from http://online.vitalsource.com/books/9781483321950/epubcfi/6/2

Mays, G. L., & Ruddell, R. (2012). Do the Crime, Do the Time: Juvenile Criminals and Adult Justice in the American Court System. Santa Barbara, Calif: Praeger. Retrieved from http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.lib.kaplan.edu/eds/ebookviewer/ebook/bmxlYmtfXzQzOTkyMV9fQU41?sid=f728458d-6f8c-44fd-80b3-7c186a3f34c6@sessionmgr4005&vid=31&format=EB&ppid=pp_44

Nanda, J. (2012). Blind Discretion: Girls of Color & Delinquency in the Juvenile Justice System. UCLA Law Review, 59(6), 1502-1539. Retrieved from http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.lib.kaplan.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=f13354fb-da08-4f1f-88ab-b5e60e8a3170%40sessionmgr4005&vid=16&hid=4102

NeMoyer, A., Goldstein, N. S., McKitten, R. L., Prelic, A., Ebbecke, J., Foster, E., & Burkard, C. (2014). Predictors of juveniles’ noncompliance with probation requirements. Law And Human Behavior, 38(6), 580-591. doi:10.1037/lhb0000083. Retrieved from http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.lib.kaplan.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=f728458d-6f8c-44fd-80b3-7c186a3f34c6%40sessionmgr4005&vid=6&hid=4102

Perrault, R. T., Paiva-Salisbury, M., & Vincent, G. M. (2012). Probation Officers’ Perceptions of Youths’ Risk of Reoffending and Use of Risk Assessment in Case Management. Behavioral Sciences & The Law, 30(4), 487-505. doi:10.1002/bsl.2015. Retrieved from http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.lib.kaplan.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=f728458d-6f8c-44fd-80b3-7c186a3f34c6%40sessionmgr4005&vid=12&hid=4102

Salekin, R. T. (2015). Interpretation for juvenile evaluations. Forensic evaluation and treatment of juveniles: Innovation and best practice (pp. 149-169). Washington, DC, US: American Psychological Association. doi:10.1037/14595-008. Retrieved from http://eds.b.ebscohost.com.lib.kaplan.edu/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=8b419a22-2fd3-4f05-a880-e81ffa7d4d44%40sessionmgr111&vid=3&hid=108

VandenWallBake, R. (2013). Considering Childhood Trauma in the Juvenile Justice System: Guidance for Attorneys and Judges. Child Law Practice, 32(11), 171-174. Retrieved from http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.lib.kaplan.edu/eds/detail/detail?vid=3&sid=36ca57a8-2ca7-4932-8f1a-4879041c68b5%40sessionmgr4002&hid=4111&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmU%3d#db=a9h&AN=95031556http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.lib.kaplan.edu/eds/detail/detail?vid=3&sid=36ca57a8-2ca7-4932-8f1a-4879041c68b5%40sessionmgr4002&hid=4111&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWRzLWxpdmU%3d#db=a9h&AN=95031556

Zimring, F. E., & Tanenhaus, D. S. (2014). Choosing the Future for American Juvenile Justice. New York: NYU Press. Retrieved from http://eds.a.ebscohost.com.lib.kaplan.edu/eds/ebookviewer/ebook/bmxlYmtfXzczMjUwMl9fQU41?sid=f13354fb-da08-4f1f-88ab-b5e60e8a3170@sessionmgr4005&vid=22&format=EB&ppid=pp_159

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