Missouri Courts have a special court system to deal with issues related to minor children
and their care and behavior known as Juvenile Courts. In most jurisdictions the Juvenile
Court is a unit with their Family Court division with an extensive office of support
staff and personnel run by that county’s Juvenile Officer. A special set of rules and
procedures established by the Missouri Supreme Court are utilized.

In Missouri Juvenile Courts have exclusive jurisdiction in three generalized areas:

1. Abuse and neglect cases
2. Status offense cases
3. Delinquency cases

Abuse and Neglect Cases

An abuse and neglect case is a juvenile court matter where the parents or custodians
of a child have been accused of abusing and/or neglecting the children in their care.
In most instances the children have been removed from the home, or the parents have
been threatened with the removal of their children from the home. In these instances
Missouri’s Children’s Division may have legal and physical custody rights of the children
assigned to the agency until the conclusion of the case. Most abuse and neglect cases
will remain open for a period of at least one year.

Status Offense Cases

A status offense case is a juvenile court matter where the child’s behavior and actions are
the reasons for a case being opened. Those actions may be reasonable and acceptable
but for the age of the juvenile. For instance, the child may be habitually truant from
school, or behaves in a manner which is self-injurious, or against the reasonable and
lawful directions of his/her parents. In such instances the parents may seek juvenile court
intervention to provide the family appropriate services for their child.

Delinquency cases

A delinquency case is a juvenile court matter that alleges that the juvenile has committed
a crime. As an alleged juvenile offender these cases initially are handled by the Juvenile
Court, but Missouri Courts may also determine that a juvenile’s conduct should be
handled by the adult criminal courts after an appropriate hearing. Although delinquency
cases are civil matters under Missouri law, the juvenile may be subject to detention in the
county juvenile detention center among other penalties and procedures.

Procedures in Juvenile Courts

The procedures in the juvenile courts vary widely depending on the county involved and
whether the matter is an abuse and neglect case, a status offense, or a deliquency case.
For a discussion related to your particular situation, please contact our office at (314)862-8888
and ask to speak with one of our attorneys.