Juvenile Prosecutorial and Protection Duties
The jurisdiction of the juvenile court and family court includes three categories of youths:
Delinquents – youths who commit acts that would be defined as criminal for an adult, including misdemeanors and felonies.
Status offenders – youths who commit acts that would not be defined as criminal if committed by an adult (for example, truancy, running away from home, and curfew violations).
Dependent and neglected children – youths who are deprived and in need of support and supervision.
The County Attorney is required by statute to “attend to the prosecution in the juvenile session . . . held pursuant to petitions filed under KRS Chapter 610”. Under this requirement are all actions where a child is alleged to be “Dependent,” “Neglected,” or “Abused.” (“DNA”)
Non-emergency DNA Action:
A non-emergency DNA action is commenced with the filing of a Juvenile Dependency Neglect or Abuse Petition. The Affiant – the individual with knowledge about the facts involving the child – states the reasons in the petition why he or she thinks a child is dependent, neglected, or abused.
The Court will then schedule a hearing within 10 days to determine “whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that the child would be dependent, neglected, or abused if returned to, or left in the custody of his parent or other person exercising custodial control or supervision”.
Emergency DNA Action/EMERGENCY CUSTODY:
Emergency based DNA actions, including a Petition for Emergency Custody, are filed by the local Department of Community Based Services or by another individual with knowledge of the facts at the direction of the local Department of Community Based Services, after that agency has conducted an investigation into the facts giving rise to the emergency situation.
The filing of an EMERGENCY CUSTODY petition is proper when the person exercising custody or supervision of the child is unable or unwilling to protect the child AND one or more of the following conditions exist:
- the child is in imminent danger of death, serious physical injury or sexual abuse;
- custodian/supervisory person has repeatedly inflicted or allowed to be inflicted physical injury or emotional injury;
- the child is in imminent danger due to the custodian/supervisory person’s failure or refusal to provide for the safety or needs of the child
A hearing shall be conducted within 72 hours of the granting of an emergency custody order to determine whether the removal should continue and to set the action for further proceedings.
If you suspect that a child is dependent or being neglected or abused, please report the facts to the Lakes Region DCBS Central Intake Hotline at 270-388-4818. The McCracken County DCBS Protection and Permanency Office is located at 206 North 8th Street, Paducah, Kentucky, 42002, 270-575-7110.
Subsequent Proceedings in BOTH Emergency & Non-emergency Actions:
After the initial determinations listed above, the Court holds bifurcated hearings for the following purposes:
1. an adjudication to “determine the truth or falsity of the allegations in the petition,” and
2. a disposition to “determine the action to be taken by the court on behalf of, and in the best interest of, the child”.
The goal of the County Attorney’s office in these cases is the care and protection of the child. These proceedings are not criminal in nature and the goal of all DNA cases is, through the appropriate treatment and therapies, to reunify the child with the family.
Child abuse is a serious crime that can be prosecuted under the laws of the Commonwealth, however the DNA proceedings are independent of any criminal proceedings. It is possible to have both criminal proceedings, and DNA proceedings prosecuted at the same time.