The Juvenile Prosecution Division prosecutes all levels of offenses, ranging from serious traffic offenses to homicides. The primary mission of the division is to protect the public safety and to promote justice. To that end, we prosecute violent juvenile offenders aggressively while also emphasizing crime prevention and early intervention efforts. In 2012, the division reviewed more than 7,000 referrals from Hennepin County police jurisdictions. Our prosecutors and staff work closely with law enforcement across the county.
In addition to prosecuting all levels of juvenile cases, the division also prosecutes adult co-defendants of juveniles in felony cases. When appropriate due to the serious or violent nature of the offense, the office files motions for Extended Jurisdiction Juvenile or Certification to Adult Court (seeking to handle the case in adult court). JPD prosecutors then try cases to a jury that arise in any adult co-defendant, certified juvenile or EJJ case.
Most juvenile cases remain in the juvenile court, and the office seeks dispositions that focus on maintaining public safety through appropriate sanctions and juvenile programming. With the assistance of victim/witness advocates and staff, we work closely with victims of juvenile crime. Because of the range of cases, JPD attorneys are well versed not only in the law but in the specialized practice of juvenile court; on the one hand, they try jury cases and apply adult sentencing guidelines, and on the other, understand juvenile treatment issues, programming and treatment options. Attorneys are specialized in the areas of domestic abuse, criminal sexual conduct, drug and auto theft prosecutions.
The County Attorney’s Office also supports crime prevention efforts and believes that prosecution for less serious offenses should be avoided if possible. First time less serious offenders are diverted through Headway and other community agencies. County Attorney staff facilitates anti-bullying, restorative justice and truancy reduction programs in schools. Other outreach efforts include community prosecutors who work with police in certain communities, and attorney liaisons to high schools and middle schools.
Understanding the Juvenile Justice System provides basic information on how the legal process differs for juveniles.