Victim rights in juvenile cases

Information for victims about their rights and role in the juvenile court process. 

In juvenile court, the rights of victims are a little different than in adult criminal court. This is because there are additional privacy protections for offenders under 18 years of age.  

Rights of victims

You have a right to attend all hearings where the petition alleges any criminal offense. The probation officer must notify you of the time and place of any hearing and other services you are entitled to. 

You have a right to information about the case

You have the right to receive important information before, during, and after the case.

For example, you have the right to get information about

  • What charges were filed (if any)
  • Your right to get notices about any court dates
  • Your right to seek civil damages from youth and their parents

You can also ask to get notified about what a judge decides. For certain violent crimes, you have the right to know about any plea bargains.

Some of the information you get may be confidential.

 As a victim, you have a right this information, but it is a crime for you to share it on purpose with others. If there is a hearing to decide if the case should be transferred to adult court, you have the right to copies of the petition, the minutes of the proceedings, and the orders made by the court. Do not share these documents. 

You have the right to participate in the court process

Being part of the court case may help you feel more in control over your life. Or it may not be the right thing for you now. Unless you get a court order (a subpoena) that says you must go to court, it is your choice to participate or not.

There are many different ways you can be involved.

Ask to be notified. If you want to be notified about court hearings, contact the probation officer or the District Attorney's office. You can also look for more help in each county from the Victim Witness Advocate.

Go to the court hearings. You can go alone or take one or two support people.

Make a victim impact statement. The probation officer should include it in the report to the court. If you want, you can read your victim impact statement in court.

Participate in voluntary Victim-Offender Mediation. Participation in mediation is completely voluntary. Mediation is an opportunity for victims and offenders to meet in a safe, structured environment and discuss the effect the crime has had on them and their families, or potentially ask questions. If you do not want to participate, it will not impact your ability to get restitution.

If interested, you can listen to a victim's and youth's perspectives after participating in mediation. Learn more
Watch victim testimonial describing their experience participating in mediation. Listen to what the youth felt and what they got from participating.

The youth's lawyer, or an investigator representing the lawyer, may want to ask you questions. It is completely your choice and will not impact your ability to get the restitution owed to you. You may agree or refuse to talk, or you may set reasonable limits about what questions you are willing to answer.

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To learn about these rights, read Victims of Juvenile Crimes and contact the Victims/Witness Assistance Center in your county. You can also contact the Victims of Crime Resource Center.

You may be able to recover some of your financial losses

You can ask the judge to order the youth (and their parents) to pay “restitution.”  You have the right to

  • Get your stolen property back when it is no longer needed as evidence
  • Apply for compensation from the state’s Victim Compensation Program, in certain types of cases
  • Apply for witness fees and travel costs
  • Get information from the probation officer about how to sue the offender and the offender’s parents in civil court for your losses
  • Ask the court to order restitution so the offender (or the offender’s parents) would have to pay you for your financial losses, such as your medical expenses

Read Restitution Basics for Victims of Offenses by Juveniles to find out more. And the State Restitution Fund is also available for crime victims.

Where you can get help 

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For help and more information, contact the Victim/Witness Assistance Center in your county. The probation officer may also be able to tell you about local programs.

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