A major advancement in the Dearborn justice system occurred in 1999 when the 19th District Court activated a new Juvenile Division to handle traffic and misdemeanor ordinance violations by Dearborn youths under the age of 17.
Previously, local offenders reported to the Wayne County Circuit Court's Family Division, which annually is swamped with 10,000-plus cases, many involving felony crimes.
This heavy volume frequently caused cases involving misdemeanor offenses to be adjourned, delayed or dismissed after long waits by the offenders, their parents and Dearborn police officers while the county judges gave priority attention to more serious crimes.
Today, with the expanded jurisdictions, Dearborn judges are now able to hold young offenders accountable for their actions in all misdemeanor ordinance violation cases. The court may order the juvenile to attend a youth assistance program, pay a fine or court costs, go to counseling or work on the Juvenile Work Program.
Some juvenile cases will not be placed on a formal court docket and appear before a judge. These juvenile cases may be diverted from formal court proceedings and placed on 'Diversion'. Considerations in diverting a juvenile are:
- Nature of the alleged offense
- The minor's age
- The nature of the problem that led to the alleged offense
- The minor's character and conduct
- The minor's behavior in school, family, and group settings; and
- Any prior diversion decisions made concerning the minor and the nature of the minor's compliance with the diversion agreement.
When the juvenile and his or her parent(s) or legal guardian agree to the diversion, a Diversion Agreement will be entered whereby the juvenile and his or her parent(s) or guardian will fulfill conditions set by the court intake officer. Once all the conditions have been completed, the juvenile's diversion record will be destroyed 28 days after the juvenile's 17th birthday. If the juvenile fails in the agreement, the Diversion Agreement would be revoked and the case petitioned and placed on the formal or informal court calendar.
Juvenile offenders will report as directed by the probation officer assigned to their case. Juvenile appointments are scheduled after school hours during the school year Juveniles assigned to the Juvenile Work Program will report to the Dearborn Police Department lobby at 8:30am on the Saturday that they were assigned.
Juveniles and their parents that have been placed on the 'Growth Works Youth Assistance Program' will report to the 19th District Court (east doors) at 6:00 pm on Wednesday evenings or as directed by Growth Works staff.