Children’s Code

In 1978 Louisiana created the Code of Juvenile Procedure, which included laws relating to status offenders (now called FINS) and delinquents. The Code of Juvenile Procedure did not incorporate the juvenile provisions scattered throughout the law. The Louisiana Children’s Code (Ch.C.) was drafted to combine all the laws affecting juvenile court jurisdiction, resolve ambiguities, reconcile conflicting laws, ensure that statutory law accurately reflects settled case law and provide a single code containing procedural and substantive laws affecting juveniles. The Children’s Code became effective January 1, 1992.

Under the Children’s Code many juvenile delinquency procedures parallel adult criminal procedure but different terminology is used.

If a juvenile is held in custody, the Children’s Code mandates that the proceedings move quickly. Unless good cause is found by the court, there should be no more than 30 days between a juvenile’s appearance to answer the petition and trial. (Ch. C. Art. 877) If the juvenile is not in custody, there should be no more than 90 days between his answer and trial.

Most juveniles adjudicated delinquent or FINS, whose disposition includes removal from their home, are placed with OJJ. However, the court may also commit the juvenile to another state agency, such as the Department of Children and Family Services or the Department of Health and Hospitals, or a private agency. A disposition may not exceed the time allowed by law. There are time limitations for custody.

The Children’s Code contains 16 titles.  below we have provided the titles which directly impact and /or reference the youth in the care of OJJ

Title VI deals with Child in Need of Care Proceedings, the provisions under which the Office of Community Services (OCS) may be given custody of a child by the court.

Title VII is FINS (Families in Need of Services). Both OCS and OJJ can receive custody of juveniles under this Title.

Title VIII is the delinquency title, containing a section on the constitutional rights afforded to juveniles. (See Ch. C. Art. 808- 811.) The only constitutional right denied to juveniles is the right to a jury trial. Because the focus in juvenile court is rehabilitation rather than punishment, the judge is in the best position to decide the juvenile’s case.

Serious Offenses by a Juvenile -Ch. C. Art. 897.1

Children’s Code Article 897.1 applies to adjudications based on commission of first and second degree murder, aggravated rape, aggravated kidnapping and armed robbery when committed by a youth 14 years or older. Youth committed under this article cannot receive probation and are not eligible for parole or modification.

Youth adjudicated based on these offenses must be committed until their 21st birthday and the disposition must be served in a secure care facility. There is no mandatory length of disposition for a youth adjudicated for armed robbery but the disposition must be served in a secure care facility.

R.S. 46:2600-2610, Children’s Code