The Probate & Juvenile Court has jurisdiction in proceedings against juveniles under 17, if the juvenile repeatedly disobeys the reasonable and lawful commands of his or her parent(s) or guardian - Incorrigibility. Furthermore, the Court must find that the family has exhausted all non-Court options, such as counseling and other resources in the community, before it may accept a parent’s request for Court intervention.
What is Incorrigibility?
Refers to children under 17 years of age.
- Minors must be found to be in violation of the Probate Code, MCL 712A.2Sec.2(a)(3) as follows:
- The child is repeatedly disobedient to the reasonable and lawful commands of his/her parents, guardian, or other custodian, and
- The Court finds on the record by clear and convincing evidence that Court-accessed services are necessary.
- Incorrigibility is more than simple disobedience – Local criterion includes:
- The child repeatedly or habitually disobeys the reasonable directions of the child’s lawful parents, guardian, or legal custodians over the last three months. A child refuses to accept these orders and it has caused significant problems for the child, parents or the guardians in the home and/or school environments.
- Examples of the things which are generally accepted for an incorrigible petition, if they are frequently repeated, may be if the child:
- Leaves home and his/her whereabouts are unknown or repeated curfew violations;
- Threatens to cause or causes deliberate physical harm to family members;
- Causes property damage to the home or property of family members;
- Refuses to attend school (in such case a truancy petition may also be filed by the school’s truancy officer);
- Steals money or property from other family members;
- Uses alcohol, drugs or other illegal substances;
- Uses vulgar or abusive language to parents and/or family members;
- Displays behaviors in the school that disrupt the order of the school environment causing repeated school suspensions and/or disrespect to all authority figures including, teachers and school administrators.
The Probate & Juvenile Court is authorized by law to accept complaints by parents against their children who are under 17 years of age, who are repeatedly disobedient to their reasonable rules, or are chronic runaways. The parent(s)/guardian will provide the Court Intake Worker with Intake Information and the worker will then assess the situation to determine if Court services would be helpful or are necessary.
A conference with the parties and the Court Services Coordinator will be scheduled prior to a petition being filed to try and resolve the situation. The policy of the Court is that the family make an effort to solve the problem by:
- Attending family or individual counseling for a period of four months
- Working with the schools
- Exploring arrangements for the child to live with a relative if necessary
- Trying other actions identified by the Court Intake Worker to avoid Court involvement
The Court Services Coordinator will make suggestions for seeking solutions to the problem. The consequences of a juvenile record will be discussed with the parent(s)/guardian and child.
If efforts have been made to solve the problem and the situation still does not improve, a petition (JC 04a) can be filed. A time for a Court hearing in the matter will be set and the Court will appoint an attorney to represent the child. The Judge or Attorney Referee will determine if the Court will accept "jurisdiction" of the child.
Once the incorrigible petition is filed by the parent, a "preliminary hearing" is scheduled, for the Court to determine if the child is incorrigible and how to proceed with the case, which may end in one of several ways:
- Decline to proceed – Due to lack of clear and convincing evidence a prosecutor may choose not to pursue any formal or informal proceeding.
- Informal Proceeding (Diversion or Consent Calendar)—If it appears to the Court that protective and supportive action will best serve the juvenile and the public then a case may be handled informally as either Consent Calendar or Diversion. In either case a plan may be adopted that can include costs, counseling, community service and restitution. A juvenile involved in an informal proceeding cannot be removed from home or placed in detention. Not all cases are eligible for an informal proceeding. These files are confidential. If the plan is successfully completed the file is destroyed 28 days after the Juvenile’s 17th birthday. If the Juvenile does not successfully complete the plan the case will then proceed on the formal calendar.
- Formal Proceeding (Regular or Intensive Probation)—Cases handled formally in the Probate & Juvenile Court are much like criminal cases in the adult court, but are known as "juvenile hearings" or "adjudicatory hearings." A Juvenile is entitled to the right to a trial, attorney, and to confront witnesses just as in the adult court. Once a juvenile is adjudicated (found guilty by plea or at trial) then, the Court can impose a range of sentences (dispositions) including probation, costs, fees, counseling and community service. A Juvenile who pleads or is found guilty of Incorrigibility cannot initially be removed from home or placed in detention, but could be after being placed on probation then violates probation.
Steps to filing an incorrigible petition:
- You must complete your petition completely and by yourself. Court employees may not provide legal advice.
- Your allegations about your child’s behavior must be current. The alleged behaviors must have occurred with the last three months.
- You must present a statement from a counseling agency detailing your efforts to use community resources to solve your child’s behaviors. If your child is not participating in counseling services, seek assistance from Community Mental Health Youth Intervention Specialist, Jackie Warner, MA, LPC who will assess the child using the MAYSI screen and/or other assessments. Contact the Youth Intervention Specialist via e-mail or by phone at 989.832.6855.
- Upon filing of the Petition, it may be a few weeks until a hearing is scheduled. Your son/daughter will be at home with you during this time. You will receive a copy of the filed petition with the date and time for your child’s preliminary hearing in the mail.
- If the Court finds your child is incorrigible and Court-accessed services are necessary, the Court will enter an Order to rectify the situation. Understand that the Court’s Orders will be binding on you as a parent, as well as your child. and may include probation and/or family counseling.
Fees & Costs
You will be responsible for the cost of the Court-ordered services, including:
- Cost of a diversionary program, if utilized,
- Cost of a consent calendar plan program, if utilized,
- Cost of formal calendar programs, if utilized, including;
- Court appointed attorney fees for your child (an attorney must be appointed if your case goes to formal Court)
- Monthly cost of probation department services
- Intensive family counseling utilizing the Court’s Multisystemic Therapy Program,
- Per-day costs for your child’s out of home or day treatment placement, if utilized.
Contact Court Services Coordinator, Jodie Garner via email or at 989.832.6398 for more information or to schedule an appointment. Meetings will take place at the Midland County Courthouse – Level B, located at 301 W. Main Street, Midland, Michigan.