The Juvenile Court is a special branch of the state Circuit Court which specializes in handling the cases of most young criminal offenders, as well as cases involving the protection of endangered children. The District Attorney is responsible for providing legal advocacy for both types of cases within the Juvenile Court system.
A juvenile delinquency case occurs when a person younger than 18 violates a law (other than a major person felony) within the Oregon Criminal Code. In those instances, a specially trained Deputy District Attorney advises Juvenile Department staff on appropriate charges, and then takes on a role very similar to a traditional prosecutor. The Deputy District Attorney will work closely with crime victims, file legal motions, subpoena witnesses, and make court appearances. All of this is done with the goal of establishing court jurisdiction over the youth offender to promote rehabilitation of the offender and, most importantly, to ensure protection of the public.
Sometimes, the conditions and circumstances of a child are such that his or her welfare is seriously endangered. This frequently happens is situations of both child abuse and neglect. In those cases, the Department of Human Services (DHS) may petition the Court for temporary legal control of the child's living situation. The District Attorney is responsible for handling all legal aspects of these cases, including working with medical and other expert witnesses, filing legal motions, and advocating in the courtroom for the best interests of the endangered children.
The Juvenile Division of the District Attorney's office is staffed by two full-time and two part-time prosecutors. Their offices are located within the Juvenile Department Building at 222 N. 1st Avenue in Hillsboro, and they can be reached at (503) 846-8861.