Youth Court Services
About Youth Court:
Under the Montana Youth Court Act, the Youth Court Juvenile Probation is a mandated function of Montana State Government, under the Montana Supreme Court directed by the District Court Judge of the respected Judicial District. The Twentieth Judicial District Youth Court encompasses Lake and Sanders County. Juveniles usually enter the juvenile justice system through contact with law enforcement, although thy may be referred to juvenile probation by other agencies and parents. Juvenile Probation is an integral part of the Youth Court and is overseen by the Youth Court judge within each of the 22 judicial districts. Most referrals to Youth Court's Juvenile probation office are in the form of a ticket accompanied by a report from law enforcement. Juvenile Probation officers may handle any referral except traffic and fish and game violations, which fall under the jurisdiction of the Justice, Municipal, City and District Courts. The Youth Court Juvenile Probation system is designed to keep youth out of the deep end of the criminal justice system. It also is effective in helping the District/ Youth Courts from becoming over-burdened with relatively minor offenses that can be handled more swiftly by juvenile probation through the informal process.
Youth Court makes every effort whenever possible to keep a youth within the informal involvement process. Generally, status offenses are more likely addressed informally then criminal offenses. The Informal progress may include but not limited to the following:
• Informal probation agreement (community service, written essays, letters of apology, restitution, counseling, etc.)
• Initial letter of warning
• Verbal warning
• Diversion /Deferred disposition ( holding the case open until the youth meets predetermined conditions)
For additional information on informal court process MCA 41-5-1304
Some youth may not be appropriate for informal involvement, or may have not have been successful at the informal level. If this is the case, the youth must go through a formal court process, where a District Court Judge will determine whether they are placed on formal probation and what the terms of probation are. The more sever the offense, the more likely it will need to be processed through formal court.
For more information on formal court process MCA 41-5-1401
Youth Court Director
Chief Juvenile Probation Officer
Lake County Courthouse Room 120
106 4th Ave E Polson, MT 59860