Juvenile Delinquency Victim Rights


Victim Witness Office
County Courthouse
811 Port Street
St. Joseph, MI 49085
(269) 983-7111, Ext. 8311
Berrien County Juvenile Ctr
6414 Deans Hill Road
Berrien Center, MI 49102
(269) 471-2831
Victim Compensation Board
P.O. Box 30026
Lansing, MI 48909
Dept of Human Services
401 Eighth Street
Benton Harbor, MI 49022
(269) 934-2000
1485 M-139
Benton Harbor, MI 49022
(269) 925-0585
Berrien County Child Abuse
& Neglect Council

Benton Harbor, MI 49022
(269) 934-2000 – Adult
(269) 934-2300 – Child
Berrien County Sheriff
919 Port Street
St. Joseph, MI 49085
(269) 983-7141, Ext. 7231

A Letter from your Prosecuting Attorney...

Dear Berrien County Residents,

The purpose of this information is to insure that you, as a victim, have a complete understanding of our rights.  In order for our criminal justice system to work effectively, we need your input, support and cooperation.  It is necessary for you to communicate with those officials you have elected.  Please take the time to complete your Victim Impact Statement as soon as possible.  The Judge and Prosecutor will review your statement to determine how to best handle your case.

As your Prosecuting Attorney, I encourage you to join with our office and the local police agencies in our fight against crime.  Our collective effort will make this a safe community for all of us.

Should you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact myself, one of my Assistant Prosecuting Attorneys, or anyone on the Victim Assistance Staff.

Your Prosecutor,
Michael J. Sepic



The Crime Victim’s Rights Act requires that victims of certain juvenile offenses be notified of their rights and procedures under the act.  These rights allow the victim to actively participate in the criminal justice process.  Most of these rights are not automatic; you decide whether to take advantage of them by informing the Victim Assistance Program.

To you, the victim of crime, court proceedings may seem impersonal and confusing.  It is out goal to make you feel more comfortable with the criminal justice procedures and allow us to effectively work together.

If you are intimidated or threatened by the defendant, CONTACT THE POLICE IMMEDIATELY.  If you are in need of further assistance, contact the Victim Assistance Program at (269) 982-8640.


 Under the Crime Victims Rights Act of 1985, you have the right to…

  • Be present during the entire trial unless you are to be called as a witness.
  • Be free from threats or acts of discharge from your employer because you are subpoenaed or requested by the court to testify in court.
  • Be provided with a waiting area separate from the defendant.
  • Consult with the Prosecuting Attorney to give you views about the disposition of this crime.
  • Receive the name of a person to contact regarding information about your case.

 Upon Request...

  • Receive notice of any scheduled court proceeding.
  • Confer with the Prosecuting Attorney prior to the selection of the jury and trial.
  • Receive written notice of the defendant’s conviction.
  • Have your written impact statement included in the pre-sentence report.
  • Make an oral impact statement at the time of sentencing.
  • Be notified of the time and place of sentencing.


The Michigan Crime Victim Compensation Act was begun to give financial help to crime victims who are hurt or lose earnings or support because of the crime.  Victim Assistance will be able to help with any questions you might have.  Applications may be received from this office.

  • You must be a resident of the State of Michigan.
  • The crime must have happened in the State of Michigan.
  • The crime must be reported to the police within 48 hours and the victim must cooperate with the investigation.
  • You must have a $200 out-of-pocket medical expense and/or a loss of two continuous weeks of earnings or support.
  • The claim must be filed within 1 year of the crime or within 1 year of the death of the victim.
  • In case of death, a claim may be filed by a family member.
  • Expenses or losses that are covered by personal insurance or that can be paid by another source will not be covered.


Suggestions for testifying

TELL THE TRUTH.  The single most important item of advice is to tell the truth.

DRESS NEATLY.   It is important that you look good in court.

BE PREPARED.  Think about the answers you will give to the questions you probably will be asked.

STICK TO THE FACTS.  The Judge wants to hear only the facts as you know them to be, not what someone else told you.

RELAX, SPEAK CLEARLY.  You have nothing to fear when giving true answers.  When you are asked questions, give the Judge your answer as clearly and concise as possible.


  • One of the basic rules in a criminal case is that both sides have the chance to question the witness.  Questions asked by both sides have the same goal:  to find out what is true.
  • Don’t let the defense lawyer upset you.  It may seem at times that he is trying to pin you down, but he has the right to test how many facts you know and remember.
  • Answer all questions to the point.  It is the responsibility of each lawyer to bring out the truth by asking questions.
  • If you can answer a question with a single yes or no do so.  Answer only the questions asked.  Do no volunteer additional information.
  • If you don’t know the answer to the questions, say so.  Do not guess or speculate.
  • If you don’t understand or didn’t hear the question, ask that it be explained or repeated.
  • If either lawyer raises an objection, stop speaking at once.  After the Judge has ruled, you will be asked to go on.


Each case is handled on an individual basis, taking into account the juvenile’s history, seriousness of the committed offense, prognosis for rehabilitation and prevention of future violations.  The focus of juvenile court is rehabilitation.

When a crime is committed by someone under 17 years of age, the police are notified and begin their investigation.  Upon completion of their investigation, the police either reprimand the juvenile and release the juvenile to his/her parents or seeks approval of the county prosecutor to file a petition in the Probate Court.

If a petition is filed, the Probate Court can warn the juvenile and dismiss the petition, refer the juvenile for voluntary counseling, place the juvenile on informal probation, or set the case for a formal hearing.

If the case is set for formal handling and the juvenile does not plead guilty, the juvenile is entitled to a trial in front of a judge or jury.  If the juvenile is convicted, a dispositional hearing is held at a later date.  Under certain conditions, the Probate Court can order a 15 or 16 year old juvenile to stand trial as an adult.

Normally, the longest a juvenile can be subject to the order of the Probate Court is the juvenile’s 19th birthday, although some juveniles can be kept until their 21st birthday, when they must be dismissed from Probate Court Jurisdiction.

If the juvenile is kept in the juvenile system some of the things the court can do are:

  • Place the juvenile on probation in his/her own home, in a relative’s home, or in a foster home.
  • Send the juvenile to an institution for the treatment of juvenile offenders, and/or order the juvenile to participate in such programs as counseling, education, drug or alcohol treatment.
  • Order the juvenile to pay restitution to the victim and/or complete community service work.



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Berrien County Courthouse
811 Port Street, St. Joseph, MI 49085
Berrien County Administration Center
701 Main Street, St. Joseph, MI 49085
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Last Updated 4/22/2016   
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