The County Clerk's Office has a satellite office at the Robert L. Harris Juvenile Justice Center. This office is located on the 2nd floor. If you have any questions regarding juvenile cases please call (564) 397-2073.
The following categories of proceedings shall be heard at the Juvenile Court:
All actions under Title 13 RCW, including:
- Dependency and related proceedings
- Termination of Parental Rights
- Juvenile Offender actions
- Youth at Risk Proceedings & Children in Need of Services
- Truancy actions (Chapter 28A.225 RCW)
Court Files, Hearings Filing of Pleadings
- Case Files. The files for all cases assigned to Juvenile Court shall be maintained by the Clerk of the Court.
- Filing of Pleadings. Initial pleadings commencing a case shall be filed at the Clerk's Office.
- The Clerk's Office maintains an extension office on the 2nd floor of the Juvenile Justice Center. The phone number for the Juvenile Clerk is (564) 397-2073.
JuCR 1.4 Applicability of other rules
Civil Rules. The Superior Court Civil Rules shall apply in proceedings other than than those involving a juvenile offense when not inconsistent with these rules and applicable statues.
Criminal Rules. The Superior Court Criminal Rules shall apply in juvenile offense proceedings when not inconsistent with these rules and applicable statutes.
Evidence Rules. The Rules of Evidence shall apply in juvenile court proceedings to the extent and with the exceptions stated in ER 1101.
Juvenile Court Records – Confidentiality: In a juvenile offense proceeding, the official juvenile court file (legal file) is open to public inspection unless sealed by court order. The social file (maintained by the Juvenile Probation Department) is confidential. In a dependency or any other non-offense proceeding all files are confidential. A confidential record in any proceeding may be released (a) to an individual, on motion if the record concerns the individual, (b) to an individual or agency for medical or research purposes, (c) to the general public if the names of the juvenile and the juvenile’s family will not be revealed, and (d) to certain participants in the juvenile justice system, including the victim in a juvenile offense proceeding.
1. Definitions of Types of Juvenile Cases
Dependency: A child is dependent if he or she has been abandoned, abused, or neglected, or has no parents willing and capable of exercising control over the child, or is developmentally disabled. See RCW 13.34.030. If the child is found to be dependent, the Department of Social and Health Services is usually required to provide services to the family in order to reunite the parents and child.
Guardianship: The juvenile court statues contain special provisions for establishing guardianships for certain children. See RCW 13-34.230-13.34.236. A guardianship in juvenile court is essentially a middle ground between dependency and terminate of parental rights. A juvenile court guardianship should not be confused with proceedings under the general guardianship statute, RCW 11.88.
2. Termination of Parental Rights
Termination of Parental Rights: If a dependent child is unlikely to ever be returned to his or her parents' home, the court is authorized under certain circumstances to sever all legal ties between a parent and the child. The proceeding is called a proceeding for termination of parental rights. Although a termination proceeding is often an extension of a dependency proceeding, the two are considered separate proceedings for most purposes.
3. Juvenile Offender
As in an adult prosecution, a juvenile may be arrested and taken into custody pursuant to a warrant or, under some circumstances, by a police officer without a warrant. Pursuant to statutory criteria, the prosecuting attorney determines whether to file or divert the case. If the case is diverted, the juvenile may enter into a diversion agreement, in which he or she agrees to perform community service or other obligations. Unless the juvenile violates the agreement, the case remains out of the court system.
4. Family Reconciliation (Children in Need of Services; Out-of-Home Placement; At-Risk Youth)
Some parents and children are, for whatever reason unable to live together with any degree of harmony. The law encourages the family to remain together, with counseling if necessary. If these efforts fail, either a parent or the child may petition the court for an order authorizing the child to temporarily move to another place of residence. The petition is called a child in need of services petition or a petition requesting out-of-home placement. The proceedings are sometimes called CHINS (child in need of services) proceedings. A second form of proceeding, commenced by filing an at-risk youth petition, is designed primarily for situations in which a child is absent from the home or is abusing drugs or alcohol. Here, the purpose of the petition is to ask the court to order a dispositional plan that may include school attendance, counseling, substance abuse treatment, and the like.
As part of the 1995 "Becca Bill" (C312 L 95), the Legislature enacted provisions that require schools to file a petition in juvenile court when a student accumulates at least five unexcused absences in a month, or ten unexcused absences in a year. If the allegations in the truancy petition are established by a preponderance of the evidence, the court must assume jurisdiction to intervene for the remainder of the school year. The court may order the student to attend school, or be referred to a community truancy board. If the student fails to comply with the court's order, the court can impose a variety of sanctions, including detention, fines or community service.