Although separate from District Courts, Utah’s Juvenile Courts are on the same level, however, they have original and exclusive jurisdiction over all legal matters pertaining to minors (anyone under the age of 18). These courts have 31 full-time judges and one and one-half commissioners serving them.
The types of cases resolved in Juvenile courts are child delinquency, child abuse, child neglect and dependency, child support, child custody, visitation, and termination of parental rights. These courts can also handle cases where mentally ill children or children with disabilities need special treatment or commitment to specialized facilities. These courts handle guardianships and may authorize supervision or custody of minors into foster or group homes, special treatment centers, or other institutions. Juvenile Courts also have exclusive jurisdiction over traffic offenses of children such as homicide, DUI/DWIs, joy riding, reckless driving, and fleeing a police officer. Juvenile Courts have concurrent jurisdiction with Justice and District Courts in matters where an adult contributes to the delinquency of a minor.
Juvenile Courts are courts of record, and they maintain a probation department as well. These courts work closely with “the Office of Guardian ad Litem on cases involving abuse, neglect, or dependency. The Court may also require children to pay fines or make restitution for damage or loss resulting from their delinquent acts. It also has jurisdiction over habitual truants, runaways and ungovernable youth if efforts by other social service agencies are not successful.” Appeals from Juvenile Courts go directly to the Court of Appeals and then the Supreme Court if necessary.
The Utah Courts website has dozens of resources for juveniles and parents while navigating the court system. They have a self-help section broken down into categories with forms, guides, and other legal resources. The Juvenile Courts section also includes videos and links to related websites.