Juvenile Investigation units serve minors and adults up to 21 years of age. The unit provides a multitude of information to the Juvenile Court. All referrals generated by law enforcement in Kern County are referred to Juvenile Investigations for an assessment. Many are evaluated using the Positive Achievement Change Tool. This tool is evidence-based and proven to effectively evaluate a minor’s risk to re-offend. Based on this assessment, numerous services could be provided to a minor including but not limited to informal probation, Juvenile Informal Court, Teen Court, community service, counseling or possibly filing of a petition by the District Attorney.
In the case of those minors for whom a petition has been filed, investigators complete in-depth individual social studies, which include gathering information regarding the offense, the minor’s home environment, school records and history, prior delinquent history and statements from the minor, parent and victim (if applicable). Upon receipt of all the above, officers are trained in the options available for disposition and subsequently make a recommendation to the Court which appropriately addresses the minor’s needs. Community protection and rehabilitation of the minor are the main factors in making the recommendation. Juvenile Investigations acts as an arm of the Juvenile Court to ensure it receives concise, accurate information and appropriate recommendations regarding juvenile offenders appearing before it. This simple mission can become complicated due to the nature of Juvenile Court Law and the numerous legal requirements set by the legislature and case law.
Juvenile Investigations has many other related responsibilities which include but are not limited to: Direct Filings (including fitness hearings to determine a minor’s suitability to be rehabilitated in the juvenile setting); Record Seals; Information Requests; and Emancipations.
The purpose of Juvenile Supervision is to assure that juvenile probationers comply with the orders of the Juvenile Court. The primary concern is the protection of the community as well as rehabilitation. All of these officers are trained to supervise caseloads of selected medium- to high-risk offenders and most are armed. All officers in these units have knowledge of intervention strategies, treatment techniques and community resources available to modify the behavior of the probationers. Evidence-based programming and best practices are part of the protocol for these services.
Probationers are geographically supervised by probation officers within these units and there are specialized caseloads as well. Specialized caseloads include those supervising juveniles adjudicated on graffiti charges, sexual offenses and those probationers who have reached the age of 18 who still owe restitution and/or fines.