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§49-5-11. Adjudication for alleged status offenders and delinquents; mandatory initial disposition of status offenders.

At the outset of an adjudicatory hearing, the court shall inquire of the juvenile whether he or she wishes to admit or deny the allegations in the petition. The juvenile may elect to stand mute, in which event the court shall enter a general denial of all allegations in the petition.

(a) If the respondent juvenile admits the allegations of the petition, the court shall consider the admission to be proof of the allegations if the court finds: (1) The respondent fully understands all of his or her rights under this article; (2) the respondent voluntarily, intelligently and knowingly admits all facts requisite for an adjudication; and (3) the respondent in his or her admission has not set forth facts which constitute a defense to the allegations.

(b) If the respondent juvenile denies the allegations, the court shall dispose of all pretrial motions and the court or jury shall proceed to hear evidence.

(c) If the allegations in a petition alleging that the juvenile is delinquent are admitted or are sustained by proof beyond a reasonable doubt, the court shall schedule the matter for disposition pursuant to section thirteen of this article.

(d) If the allegations in a petition alleging that the juvenile is a status offender are admitted or sustained by clear and convincing proof, the court shall refer the juvenile to the department of health and human resources for services, pursuant to section eleven-a of this article and order the department to report back to the court with regard to the juvenile's progress at least every ninety days or until the court, upon motion or sua sponte, orders further disposition under section eleven-a of this article or dismisses the case from its docket: Provided, That in a judicial circuit operating its own truancy program, a circuit judge may in lieu of referring truant juveniles to the department, order that the juveniles be supervised by his or her probation office.

(e) If the allegations in a petition are not sustained by proof as provided in subsections (c) and (d) of this section, the petition shall be dismissed and the juvenile shall be discharged if he or she is in custody.

(f) Findings of fact and conclusions of law addressed to all allegations in the petition shall be stated on the record or reduced to writing and filed with the record or incorporated into the order of the court.

Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2017 Regular Session
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