Juvenile Court

Bessemer Division

The Juvenile Division of the Jefferson County Bessemer Cutoff District Attorney Office prosecutes all juvenile felonies and misdemeanors for Jefferson County, Bessemer Division. 

A circuit or district court judge serves as a juvenile judge. Juvenile Court is for minors, ages 17 and under, who violates the law or who need supervision. A person can be referred to Juvenile Court if there is a filed petition alleging the child to be dependent, delinquent, or a “child in need of supervision” (CHINS).

A dependent child is one who:

Is in immediate danger in his or her current surroundings Does not have anyone to take care of him or her Is homeless, destitute, or dependent on the public for support Is without a parent or guardian for support; or Neglected by his or her parents or guardian. A delinquent child is one who has committed a crime, whether it is a violation, misdemeanor, or felony.

A child in need of supervision (CHINS) is one who:

Is habitually truant (excessive school absences or tardiness) Runs away from home; Continuously disobeys parents; or Violates curfew as set by a governmental agency

Truancy Court
Early Warning Truancy Program

Studies show that truancy correlates with educational failure and delinquency in youth, which leads to negative behavior into adulthood. The Jefferson County District Attorney’s Early Warning Truancy Prevention addresses the issue of truancy in its early stages. The focus is to increase school attendance by getting them out of the juvenile court system. The program is modeled after other programs in Alabama and utilizes the best practices to empower schools, families, and the community to fight truancy, increase attendance, and decrease crime.

Alabama Compulsory School Attendance Law

Code of Alabama, Section 16-28-12

“Each parent, guardian or other person having control or custody of any child required to attend school or receive regular instruction by a private tutor who fails to have a child enrolled in school or who fails to send the child to school, or have him or her instructed by a private tutor during the time the child is required to attend public school, private school, church school, denominational school, or parochial school, or be instructed by a private tutor, or fails to require the child to regularly attend the school or tutor, or fails to compel the child to properly conduct himself or herself as a pupil in any public school in accordance with the written policy on school behavior adopted by the local board of education pursuant to this section and documented by the appropriate school official which conduct may result in suspension of the pupil, shall not be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be fined not more than $100 and may also be sentenced to hard labor for the county for not more than 90 days. The absence of a child without consent of the principal, teachers of the public school he or she attends or should attend, or of the tutor who instructs or should instruct the child, shall be prima facie evidence of the violation of this section.”

First Unexcused Absence:

  • Parents/guardians have three days to submit an excuse following the student’s return to school.
  • Parents/guardians receive notifications of the Alabama School Compulsory Laws via a phone call and letter from the school for the first unexcused absence.
  • Monitor and track attendance.

Fifth Unexcused Absence:

  • The student is labeled a truant. An Attendance Officer with the Jefferson County Public School System contacts the parents/guardians.
  • The student and/or Parent must attend the Early Warning Truancy Program sponsored by the Jefferson County District Attorney’s office and the Jefferson County Public School System.

Third Unexcused Absence:

  • Parents/guardians are sent an attendance alert letter from the Jefferson County District Attorney.
  • Parents/guardians are sent notifications of the unexcused absence via a phone call.
  • The student’s attendance is monitored and tracked.

Over Five Unexcused Absences:

  • The student is labeled a truant.
  • The Attendance Officer with the Jefferson County Public School System continues to stay in contact with the parents/guardians.
  • A Court Petition may be filed by the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office or the Jefferson County School System against the parent/guardian and/or the student for failure to comply and if the student continues with unexcused absences.
  • The student and/or parent/guardian could face jail time, court fees, probation, or conviction of truancy on their record.