Purpose clauses, 2016
Due process era
Balanced and Restorative Justice (BARJ)
Georgia’s purpose clause was replaced in 2014. It includes language from the Legislative Guide for Drafting Family and Juvenile Court Acts (1969) of the due process era, but aligns with the BARJ model, as it mentions protecting the community, imposing accountability for violations of law, and equipping juvenile offenders with the ability to live responsibly and productively.
GA ST §15-11-1
Intake and diversion, 2016
Initial intake and court diversion decision is at the discretion of the prosecutor or the juvenile court intake officer, divided by offense.
In Georgia, when law enforcement takes a juvenile into custody, the child must be brought before the court or a referral must be made to the juvenile court intake officer or designated DJJ staff (JPO). The JPO must authorize placement of a child in a secure residential facility and a detention hearing will occur within 2 days if brought in pursuant to an arrest warrant, or within 5 days otherwise.
The JPO screens other complaints/petitions and may elect to dismiss the matter, pursue non-judicial handling (diversion, informal adjustment), or endorse a petition for adjudication of delinquent or unruly acts for judicial intervention. The JPO must notify the district attorney, solicitor general, or county appointed designee (DA) [depending on the jurisdiction] within 48 hours when a juvenile has been taken into custody by law enforcement related to a felonious act, and must obtain the DA’s consent to proceed with informal adjustments when allegations relate to felonious Class A or B acts. When the child admits to facts in conference with the JPO and agrees to informal counsel and adjustment (one meeting) or counsel and further advice (for up to 3 months, or 3 more with the court’s extension), an agreement is written and filed with the court. Conditions of “unsupervised probation” may include letters of apology, book reports, essays, traffic school and volunteer work with a community service organization and victim mediation. The agreement requires consent of the child and parents.
Once a petition is filed, the judge can direct or approve withdrawal of petition/s to permit informal adjustment, which can last up to 6 months in total. If a court finds a child commits a delinquent act and is in need of supervision but not treatment or rehabilitation, it will find the child is “in need of services” and may order any “least restrictive” disposition, including probation (supervised or unsupervised), community service, restitution, fines, etc. No secure or non-secure residential facility placement is considered diversion.
Statutory time limits for pre- & post-petition court diversions exist.
In Georgia, court diversions can occur informally for up to 3 months and 3 additional months with the court’s approval; or post-petition up to 6 months in total.
Courtroom shackling, 2015
No statewide restriction
Georgia’s juvenile code of statutes dedicates an article to competency for youth alleged delinquent or a “child in need of services” (status offenses), which aligns with the Dusky standard. The bases for incompetency include: age, immaturity, mental illness, developmental disability, or a combination of mental illness and developmental disability. An attorney is appointed for the child prior to evaluation. Statutory procedures include: criteria for the evaluation/report, competency restoration services, and planning. Once found incompetent, the court can review the matter, pending restoration, for up to 120 days if allegations were misdemeanor-level, or for 2 years with 6 month reviews if the allegations were felonious. A juvenile is not subject to transfer to (adult) criminal court when mental incompetency exists.
No juvenile standard
Juvenile standard is the adult standard
Juvenile justice standard exists
JJ standard includes developmental immaturity
Sex offender registration, 2015
Does not register