The Juvenile Court System is utilized to process youth when they are convicted of criminal offenses. The system is composed of a federal and many separate state, territorial, and local jurisdictions. The juvenile system intervenes in delinquent behavior through police, court, and correctional involvement, with the goal of rehabilitation. The juvenile justice system, similar to the adult system, operates from a belief that intervening early in delinquent behavior will deter adolescents from engaging in criminal behavior as adults.
Can I talk to the judge before my case is heard?
No. This is known as ex parte communications and is not only unethical but also against the law.
My son/daughter is being unruly at home. Can I have him/her put in detention to learn a lesson about what can happen?
No. The Jefferson County Juvenile Court reserves detention stays for delinquent offenses (i.e., what would normally be considered a criminal offense in adult court). There are strict laws in Tennessee that govern who can and cannot be placed in juvenile detention, as well as how long they may be kept there.
Do I need an attorney when I come to Juvenile Court?
We cannot tell you that you must or even should retain the services of an attorney. But, just like in other courts, you are entitled to attorney representation, if you so choose.
My child has run away from home. What should I do?
The first thing you need to do is contact the law enforcement agency with proper jurisdiction to file a Missing Child Report, which they will place into the National Crime Information Computer (N.C.I.C.).
You may also choose to come by the Juvenile Court Services office to discuss further options, such as in-home services to assist with issues resulting in the runaway behavior and/or filing a juvenile petition.
Will my child be locked up in detention, once he/she is located?
No. As stated earlier, detention is reserved for delinquent offenses. Runaways will be returned to the custody of their legal custodian/guardian.
How long do I have to pay my court-related costs?
You have thirty days from your court date to have payment made to the Juvenile Court Clerk’s office on all costs, fines, restitution, attorney fees, etc. Exceptions are only made on a case-by-case basis, based on extenuating circumstances.
What will happen to me based on my charge?
Each case is to be reviewed based on its own circumstances. Therefore, there are no set guidelines that prescribe what will happen with each type of case.
My husband/wife and I are in the process of a divorce. Can I file something that will keep him/her from picking up our child, without my approval?
No. Juvenile Court does not have jurisdiction in divorce matters, which are handled in either Chancery or Circuit Courts. In the eyes of the law, both biological parents in a marriage are equally legal custodians of the minor child, until the divorce court says otherwise. Juvenile Court has jurisdiction in custody matters where the parents were not married to one another.
The only way Juvenile Court intervenes is if the child is being abused or neglected, requiring an emergency order of custody. And, even then, by law, Child Protective Services should have been contacted and involved in the matter. Their phone number is 877-237-0004. You may also make a report online through the CPS Web Intake. (Use this online reporting system to report injuries or risk of injuries that are not imminent, life-threatening, that do not require immediate medical care or pose a low risk of harm to the child).
If the other parent and I were not married, do we have equal custody of our child?
If the parents were not married, the mother is viewed as the sole legal custodian of the child, as outlined in Tennessee statute. It does not matter if the father’s name was listed on the birth certificate and/or the child has his last name. However, if a court of proper jurisdiction has established paternity and put down an order in reference to that, then both parents may have some form of custody.
I want to file for emergency custody of a child. What do I have to do?
The only way you can file for emergency custody of a juvenile is with the assistance of an attorney. The judge requires that all orders for emergency temporary custody be written and styled accordingly.
Your only other option is to file a regular petition for temporary custody and pay a filing fee. Your case will then be set on a docket about one month in the future, to allow time for all parties to be properly notified by the Court. You will also be acting as your own attorney and required to follow the same rules and procedures as any attorney practicing law in front of the Court.
Will a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) be appointed for my child’s custody case?
When the case comes to court, the judge will determine if a Guardian Ad Litem should be appointed. If the judge determines it to be in the best interest of the child, a GAL will be appointed to represent the child’s interests.
Is the custody granted by the Court permanent?
Any custody awarded by the Court is only temporary, pending further orders of the Court.
I want my son/daughter put in a boot camp to give him/her some structure and instill some discipline. What do I need to do?
If he/she is your child, it is your determination if he/she would best be served by a boot camp program. But, the Juvenile Court does not place children in this type of program for you. The Court does not keep a record of boot camp programs, nor, is the Court aware of any insurance provider that will cover such a program for you.
Can I have my child put in Mountain View Youth Development Center for a wake-up call?
No. Juveniles placed at Mountain View Youth Development Center, which is operated by the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, must be adjudicated delinquent and placed in state custody. And, even then, the decision for placement there is up to DCS.
I received notice from the State of Tennessee that they are trying to get child support from me for my child who was placed in state custody. Why am I getting this?
The State of Tennessee may pursue court-ordered support from the legal custodian(s) of a minor child when a court of proper jurisdiction has made him/her a ward of the state. Typically, child support is based on established mandatory guidelines, which are implemented in each case.
I have not gotten my child support payment, as ordered by the Court, from the non-custodial parent. What do I need to do?
You should contact Child Support Enforcement at the Tennessee Department of Human Services at 865-397-9434 and speak to a caseworker regarding the particulars of your case. If the matter requires a review by the Court, the DHS attorney will need to set if for review.
Will the Attorney General’s office be prosecuting my case in Juvenile Court?
Typically, no. An Assistant Attorney General does not routinely come to Juvenile Court. If you wish to have such representation, you may wish to contact the District Attorney General’s office at 865-397-2367 and ask if an assistant district attorney general is available to prosecute your case.
Law enforcement is investigating a case for me, but I want to go ahead and file charges. Can I do that?
We cannot advise you whether you should or should not file charges. But, if you choose to file charges, instead of allowing law enforcement to finish their investigation, they will likely close their case, leaving you to prosecute your case alone. If you allow them to finish their investigation, and they determine that charges are appropriate, then law enforcement would file the charges and prosecute the case using evidence they have gathered from their investigation.
Can you recommend an attorney for me to hire?
No. It is unethical for us to recommend specific attorneys. However, we can tell you that any attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Tennessee can represent you in Juvenile Court. Attorney fees vary and we suggest that you contact several attorneys to find the one that best suits your needs and budget.
Who is the DCS caseworker assigned to our case?
The Court is not always aware of the caseworker to whom a DCS case has been assigned. We recommend that you call the area DCS office at 865-475-0722.
I/We want to get an order of protection. Can your Court do that?
No. Juvenile Court does not do orders of protection. Those matters must be taken up with the Circuit/Sessions Court Clerk’s office.
How much does it cost to file something in Court?
The Schedule of Fees, effective July 1, 2007, may be downloaded for review by clicking the link at the top of the page. *These fees are subject to change, with or without prior notice.
I want to file a complaint against an attorney that represented our case in court. What do I need to do?
You may wish to visit the website for the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility to learn more about your request and/or to download their Memorandum of Complaint.
I want to file a complaint against the judge that heard our case. What do I need to do?
You may wish to visit the website for the Tennessee Court of the Judiciary to learn more about your request.
I want to file a complaint against a mental health provider involved in our case. What do I need to do?
You may wish to visit the Tennessee Department of Health‘s website pertaining to social healthcare workers, including mental health, to learn more and download their complaint form.
What are my rights in dependent/neglect or abuse cases?
You may wish to visit the website of the Administrative Office of the Courts to download their brochure entitled Your Rights In Juvenile Court for information on this matter.
As the parent/guardian of a child involved in a child abuse/neglect case, what do I need to know?
You may wish to visit the web site of the Administrative Office of the Courts to download their brochure entitled The Tennessee Handbook for Parents and Guardians in Child Abuse & Neglect Cases for more information on this matter.
I have been asked to take in a child to whom I am related. Can you give me more information on this?
You may wish to visit the web site of the Administrative Office of the Courts to download their brochure for family caregivers for more information on this matter.
How do I contact the officer or law enforcement agency that issued charges against me?
Dandridge Police Department – 865-397-8862
Jefferson City Police Department – 865-475-2002
Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department – 865-397-9411
New Market Police Department – 865-475-7997
White Pine Police Department – 865-674-7771
Tennessee Highway Patrol – 800-737-2682
I am an attorney or court reporter and need a copy of the digital court player from BIS digital to listen to a recording of one of my cases. Where can I find it?
You may download a free copy of the digital court player from BIS Digital’s website.
Tennessee Amber Alerts
Missing Children from Tennessee
Safe Harbor Child Advocacy Center of Tennessee’s 4th Judicial District
T.B.I. Sex Offender Registry
T.B.I. Methamphetamine Registry
Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts
Tennessee Juvenile Court Services AssociationTennessee Bar Association
Child Protective Services Online Reporting
Power of Attorney for Care of a Minor Child (Pursuant to TCA 34-6-301)
Petition for Custody ((Dependency & Neglect)
Petition to Set Visitation (Page 1)
Petition to Set Visitation (Page 2)
Petition to Modify Child Support
Community Service Timesheet
Uniform Affidavit of Indigency (for Court-Appointed Counsel)
Release of Information Authorization (Authorizes Release from an Entity)
Schedule for Costs and Fees