2021 Georgia Code
Title 15 - Courts
Chapter 11 - Juvenile Code
Article 6 - Delinquency
Part 12 - Disposition
§ 15-11-600. Disposition Hearing; Time Limitations; Findings; Evidence

Universal Citation: GA Code § 15-11-600 (2021)
    1. After a finding that a child has committed a delinquent act, the court shall hear evidence and determine whether:
      1. Such child is in need of treatment, rehabilitation, or supervision;
      2. Such child's continuation in his or her home is contrary to such child's welfare; and
      3. Reasonable efforts have been made to prevent or eliminate the need to remove such child from his or her home.
    2. After hearing the evidence described in paragraph (1) of this subsection, the court shall make and file its findings based upon such determinations.
  1. The court may proceed immediately to the disposition hearing after the adjudication hearing or conduct the disposition hearing within 30 days of the adjudication hearing. The disposition hearing may occur later than 30 days after the adjudication hearing only if the court makes and files written findings of fact explaining the need for delay.
  2. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, evidence sufficient to warrant a finding that felony acts have been committed shall also be sufficient to sustain a finding that the child is in need of treatment or rehabilitation.
  3. If the court finds that a child who committed a delinquent act is not in need of treatment, rehabilitation, or supervision, it shall dismiss the proceeding and discharge such child from any detention or other restriction previously ordered.
  4. If the court finds that a child who committed a delinquent act is in need of supervision but not of treatment or rehabilitation, it shall find that such child is a child in need of services and enter any disposition authorized by Code Section 15-11-442.
  5. The court may consider any evidence, including hearsay evidence, that the court finds to be relevant, reliable, and necessary to determine the needs of a child who committed a delinquent act and the most appropriate disposition.
    1. Prior to the disposition hearing, and upon request, the parties and their attorneys shall be afforded an opportunity to examine any written reports received by the court.
    2. Portions of written reports not relied on by the court in reaching its decision which if revealed would be prejudicial to the interests of any party to the proceeding, or reveal confidential sources, may be withheld in the court's discretion.
    3. Parties and their attorneys shall be given the opportunity to controvert written reports received by the court and to cross-examine individuals making such reports.
  6. In scheduling investigations and hearings, the court shall give priority to proceedings in which a child is in detention or has otherwise been removed from his or her home.

(Code 1981, §15-11-600, enacted by Ga. L. 2013, p. 294, § 1-1/HB 242; Ga. L. 2014, p. 34, § 1-1/SB 365.)

Law reviews.

- For article, "The Child as a Party in Interest in Custody Proceedings," see 10 Ga. St. B. J. 577 (1974). For article, "Termination of Parental Rights: Recent Judicial and Legislative Trends," see 30 Emory L. J. 1065 (1981). For article on the 2014 amendment of this Code section, see 31 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 25 (2014). For note criticizing jurisdiction of juvenile justice system over runaways and advocating alternative legal approaches, see 24 Emory L. J. 1075 (1975).

JUDICIAL DECISIONS

Editor's notes.

- In light of the similarity of the statutory provisions, decisions under former Code 1933, § 24A-2201, pre-2000 Code Section 15-11-33, and pre-2014 Code Section 15-11-65, which were subsequently repealed but were succeeded by provisions in this Code section, are included in the annotations for this Code section. See the Editor's notes at the beginning of the chapter.

Delinquency found when delinquent acts corroborated by confession.

- Child's confession out of court corroborated by evidence that the stolen items were found in the child's possession within a few hours of the theft constituted sufficient proof to support a finding of delinquency. A.C.G. v. State, 131 Ga. App. 156, 205 S.E.2d 435 (1974) (decided under former Code 1933, § 24A-2201).

Limited restraining order appropriate disposition.

- After a juvenile attacked a store detective, and subsequently displayed violent behavior and threatened another store employee, the court's conclusion that the juvenile was in need of treatment and rehabilitation, and the court's limited restraining order preventing the juvenile from entering any store owned by the company in Fulton County, except in the immediate presence of a parent or adult relative, was an appropriate disposition and justified by the evidence. In re J.M., 237 Ga. App. 298, 513 S.E.2d 742 (1999) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-33).

Purpose of division of juvenile trials into two phases.

- In dividing juvenile trials into two phases lawmakers intended to give the juvenile judge an opportunity to conduct the "functional equivalent" of a regular trial (the adjudicatory hearing) in a manner which would satisfy the required constitutional procedures concomitant with the usual legal rules, such as those dealing with admissibility of evidence, proof beyond a reasonable doubt, and similar requirements applicable to adults. Thereafter, at the dispositional phase, the judge was to explore all available additional avenues, including psychiatric and sociological studies, which would enable the judge to provide a solution for the youngster and the family aimed at making the child a secure law-abiding member of society. D.C.A. v. State, 135 Ga. App. 234, 217 S.E.2d 470 (1975) (decided under former Code 1933, § 24A-2201).

During adjudicatory phase, rules of evidence generally prevail. In the second (dispositional) phase, the court hears virtually all evidence which is material and relevant to the issue of disposition. J.B. v. State, 139 Ga. App. 545, 228 S.E.2d 712 (1976) (decided under former Code 1933, § 24A-2201).

Continuation of a dispositional hearing should have been allowed when the probation officer notified the court that the officer was not prepared to make a recommendation regarding disposition. In re M.D., 233 Ga. App. 261, 503 S.E.2d 888 (1998) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-33).

Courts may consider reports which contain hearsay in disposition phase.

- Former statute required that in the hearing on a petition alleging deprivation the trial court shall first make the court's finding as to whether the children were deprived, and it was only after this decision had been made that the judge, in considering the disposition to be made of the children, may consider written reports which contain hearsay matter. In re J.C., 242 Ga. 737, 251 S.E.2d 299 (1978), appeal dismissed, 441 U.S. 929, 99 S. Ct. 2046, 60 L. Ed. 2d 657 (1979) (decided under former Code 1933, § 24A-2201).

Consideration of case plan not admitted into evidence.

- In a termination of parental rights proceeding, it was not error for a trial court to consider a case plan that had not been admitted into evidence because former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-65(b) (see now O.C.G.A. § 15-11-600) allowed the court to consider all helpful evidence even though not otherwise competent. In the Interest of E.G., 315 Ga. App. 35, 726 S.E.2d 510 (2012) (decided under former Code 1933, § 24A-2201).

Assault victim's uncertified, unauthenticated medical reports admissible.

- Court does not err in allowing uncertified and unauthenticated medical reports of an assault victim in evidence at the disposition hearing. C.P. v. State, 167 Ga. App. 374, 306 S.E.2d 688 (1983) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-33).

Dismissal of DUI charge authorized.

- Plain language of O.C.G.A. §§ 15-11-600(a)(1), (d) and15-11-630(i), authorized a juvenile court's decision to dismiss a juvenile's DUI case after finding that the juvenile had attended a substance abuse treatment program; had passed drug and alcohol tests; was receiving counseling; and had complied with court-ordered driving restrictions. The juvenile court was not required to comply with O.C.G.A. § 40-6-391(c). In the Interest of R. M., 354 Ga. App. 36, 840 S.E.2d 144 (2020).

Right to cross-examine afforded upon request.

- Right to cross-examine adverse witnesses guaranteed by former Code 1933, § 24A-2002 (see now O.C.G.A. §§ 15-11-19 and15-11-28) was afforded upon request according to former Code 1933, § 24A-2201 (see now O.C.G.A. §§ 15-11-400,15-11-440,15-11-581,15-11-582, and15-11-600). A.C.G. v. State, 131 Ga. App. 156, 205 S.E.2d 435 (1974) (decided under former Code 1933, § 24A-2201).

Record must show clear and convincing evidence which authorized finding.

- Just as former statute did not require the court to include a specific statement as to the standard of proof of delinquency in the adjudication order, no such explicit finding is required as to the need for treatment or rehabilitation as long as the record showed that there was clear and convincing evidence which authorized the judge's implicit finding. A.C.G. v. State, 131 Ga. App. 156, 205 S.E.2d 435 (1974) (decided under former Code 1933, § 24A-2201).

Explicit statutory findings required by former Code 1933, § 24A-2201 (see now O.C.G.A. §§ 15-11-440,15-11-581, and15-11-600) should be made in accordance with former Code 1933, § 81A-152 (see now O.C.G.A. § 9-11-52). Crook v. Georgia Dep't of Human Resources, 137 Ga. App 817, 224 S.E.2d 806 (1976) (decided under former Code 1933, § 24A-2201).

In ruling on deprivation petitions, findings of fact should be made in accordance with former Code 1933, § 81A-152 (see now O.C.G.A. § 9-11-52). W.R.G. v. State, 142 Ga. App. 81, 235 S.E.2d 43 (1977) (decided under former Code 1933, § 24A-2201) In re A.A.G., 143 Ga. App. 648, 239 S.E.2d 697 (1977);(decided under former Code 1933, § 24A-2201).

Timing of dispositional hearing.

- When a juvenile court, having concluded the adjudicatory hearing and having found a juvenile defendant guilty of contempt, proceeded immediately to a dispositional hearing at which the defendant had the opportunity to be heard and to give evidence, the defendant waived any assertion of error by not objecting to this proceeding. In the Interest of P.W., 289 Ga. App. 323, 657 S.E.2d 270 (2008) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-65).

Disposition made following finding of delinquency.

- Decision that the child is in need of treatment or rehabilitation, based upon clear and convincing evidence, is made following a finding of delinquency. A.C.G. v. State, 131 Ga. App. 156, 205 S.E.2d 435 (1974) (decided under former Code 1933, § 24A-2201).

Dispositional hearings held in county of juvenile's residence.

- Dispositional hearings must be held in the county of the juvenile's residence to meet state constitutional requirements. C.L.A. v. State, 137 Ga. App. 511, 224 S.E.2d 491 (1976) (decided under former Code 1933, § 24A-2201).

No need to repeat evidence presented during adjudicatory portion.

- There was no error in refusing to have the dispositional phase include a repetition of the same evidence and witnesses previously presented during the adjudicatory portion. D.C.A. v. State, 135 Ga. App. 234, 217 S.E.2d 470 (1975) (decided under former Code 1933, § 24A-2201).

Order for transfer for further disposition is not final appealable judgment.

- When, pursuant to former Code 1933, § 24A-2201 (see now O.C.G.A. §§ 15-11-400,15-11-440,15-11-478,15-11-581,15-11-582, and15-11-600), an order was entered adjudicating a juvenile guilty of an offense and, under the authority of former Code 1933, § 24A-1201 (see now O.C.G.A. §§ 15-11-401 and15-11-490) jurisdiction was transferred to the county of the residence for further disposition, that order was not a final judgment appealable under former Code 1933, § 6-701 (see now O.C.G.A. §§ 5-6-34 and5-6-35). D.C.E. v. State, 130 Ga. App. 724, 204 S.E.2d 481 (1974) (decided under former Code 1933, § 24A-2201).

French-speaking parent's stipulation to certain facts presented in a deprivation petition was sufficient evidence to support a finding that the parent's children were deprived and the parent's argument that the parent did not "understand" the meaning or significance of the stipulation was properly rejected. In re M.O., 233 Ga. App. 125, 503 S.E.2d 362 (1998) (decided under former O.C.G.A. § 15-11-478).

Merger doctrine inapplicable.

- Because of the unique nature of juvenile court proceedings and the fact that a disposition or adjudication order is not a conviction of a crime, the doctrine of merger is inapplicable in juvenile proceedings. In the Interest of I. H., 350 Ga. App. 394, 829 S.E.2d 437 (2019).

RESEARCH REFERENCES

Am. Jur. 2d.

- 47 Am. Jur. 2d, Juvenile Courts and Delinquent and Dependent Children, § 110 et seq.

C.J.S.

- 43 C.J.S., Infants, § 199 et seq.

U.L.A.

- Uniform Juvenile Court Act (U.L.A.) § 29.

ALR.

- Applicability of rules of evidence in juvenile delinquency proceeding, 43 A.L.R.2d 1128.

Applicability of double jeopardy to juvenile court proceedings, 5 A.L.R.4th 234.

Defense of infancy in juvenile delinquency proceedings, 83 A.L.R.4th 1135.

Applicability of rules of evidence to juvenile transfer, waiver, or certification hearings, 37 A.L.R.5th 703.

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