As an adult in juvenile court there are five (5) levels of felony charges: felonies of the first, second, third, fourth and fifth degree felonies, all of which carry the possibility of being incarcerated. In Ohio, juvenile felonies of the first and second degree carry the maximum penalty of one (1) year, up to your twenty-first (21st) birthday at the Ohio Department of Youth Services, or ODYS, Felonies of the third, fourth and fifth degree carry the maximum penalty of six (6) months up to your twenty-first (21st) birthday at ODYS. This means that unlike any adult sentence, juvenile commitments are indefinite. A child who is placed at ODYS will come up for review after they have served the minimum period of time. Based on their performance, the underlying crime, and a variety of other factors, a judge can choose whether or not to release the child or to set another review date.
However, if a child is found to be delinquent and to have committed a felony, a jurist does not have to send them to ODYS. Like with misdemeanors, the child can be committed to the detention center for up to ninety (90) days, placed in a less restrictive setting, such as Shelter Care, or even placed on probation or community control.
It is important to remember that felonies can be slightly more complicated, and there are a variety of specifications which can cause your child's ODYS commitment to be longer than initially anticipated.
Serious Youth Offender: A child can also be charged as a Serious Youth Offender. A Serious Youth Offender is considered a blended sentence, or a mix of adult and juvenile sentence. If a child is determined to be a Serious Youth Offender, both a juvenile and adult sentence is imposed. The adult sentence is stayed, or put aside, while the child serves a juvenile sentence, typically at ODYS. If the child violates specific rules at ODYS, a hearing can be called. If, at the hearing, it is determined that the child cannot be successfully rehabilitated in the juvenile system, the adult sentence may be imposed and the juvenile may be transferred to an adult prison facility.
Bind Over Proceedings: The most significant charge a child can face is one in which the juvenile court relinquishes jurisdiction. This is commonly called a bind over, and causes the child to be charged as an adult. Bind overs can be discretionary or mandatory. In any bind over proceeding, the State of Ohio must first prove that there is probable cause that the child committed the crime, then the juvenile court must determine whether the child will be charged as an adult. Some offenses carry discretionary bind overs. This means that juvenile court gets to decide whether the child should be charged as an adult or a child. Typically, this occurs through an amenability hearing, where the judge hears from parties and determines whether the child is amenable to the juvenile justice system. The most serious crimes in the juvenile court, however, carry mandatory bind overs. This means that if the State is able to prove that there is probable cause that the child committed the crime, the juvenile court has no discretion and the the child must be tried in adult court.
Practice Areas for Delinquency Felonies