The criminal justice system in Louisiana treats juveniles differently than adults, so certain procedures do not apply to young offenders as they would for adult criminals. This is because the state offers greater flexibility to juveniles in the hopes that they will learn from their mistakes and live productive lives as adults. This flexibility extends to the disposition of a juvenile.
The Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice explains what a disposition is and what it means to modify one. Depending on the circumstances, modifying a disposition can offer greater freedom for a juvenile offender but it can also impose further restrictions.
How a court sentences juveniles
Louisiana courts do not convict juveniles of a criminal offense. They adjudicate minors who are are guilty of a crime. Also, state courts do not sentence juveniles, but instead will give them a disposition.
Depending on the severity of the offense, a disposition may range from releasing the offender to his or her family to putting the offender in the custody of the Office of Juvenile Justice. If in OJJ custody, an offender may live in a group home or a locked facility and receive treatment according to the offender’s particular needs. Sometimes the disposition will impose probation as a way to avoid harsher terms.
Modifying a disposition
Judges have the authority to modify a disposition until the expiration of the disposition. This may happen at the request of the attorney representing the offender. This means if you have a child under disposition, it is possible for a judge to change the disposition to release restrictions on your child. If your child is in OJJ custody, a modification may even enable your child to come home.
However, a judge could also impose greater restrictions or even revoke a young person’s probation. This is because a D.A. may also seek a modification and district attorneys usually want to further restrict a youth offender. So it is important that a juvenile avoid any appearance of not heeding the terms of the initial disposition to avoid a harsher disposition and increase the chance that the disposition will end sooner.