Tennessee Code Annotated

Title 37: Juveniles

Chapter 1: Juvenile Courts and Proceedings

Part 1: General Provisions

TCA 37-1-129: Hearings -- Judicial Diversion -- Findings -- Disposition of child.

(a) (1) If a child alleged to be delinquent or unruly enters a plea of guilty or no contest, the court may defer further proceedings and place the child on probation upon such reasonable conditions as it may require without entering a judgment of guilty and with the consent of the child. Probation conditions shall not include a period of detention or placing the child in custody of the department. A child shall not be placed on judicial diversion if the delinquent act alleged is an offense described in § 37-1-153(b) or if the child has previously been adjudicated delinquent for such an offense.

(2) A judicial diversion agreement shall remain in force for a maximum of six (6) months unless the child is discharged sooner by the court. Upon application of any party to the proceedings, made before expiration of the six-month period and after notice and a hearing, judicial diversion may be extended by the court for an additional six (6) months.

(3) If a violation of any of the terms of judicial diversion probation is alleged, the child shall be given notice of the violation and an opportunity to be heard concerning the alleged violation. If, after a hearing, the court determines that a violation has occurred, the court may enter an adjudication of guilty and proceed to a dispositional hearing. If no violation is found, the court may continue the period of probation or may dismiss the petition.

(4) If, during the period of probation, the child does not violate any of the conditions of the probation, then upon expiration of the period, the court shall discharge the child and dismiss the proceedings against the child.

(b) (1) If an adjudicatory hearing is held, the court shall make and file its findings as to whether the child is a dependent and neglected child, or, if the petition alleges that the child is delinquent or unruly, whether the acts ascribed to the child were committed by that child. If the court finds that the child is not a dependent or neglected child or that the allegations of delinquency or unruly conduct have not been established, it shall dismiss the petition and order the child discharged from any detention or other restriction theretofore ordered in the proceeding.

(2) If the petition alleged the child was dependent and neglected as defined in § 37-1-102(b)(12)(G), or if the court so finds regardless of the grounds alleged in the petition, the court shall determine whether the parents or either of them or another person who had custody of the child committed severe child abuse. The court shall file written findings of fact that are the basis of its conclusions on that issue within thirty (30) days of the close of the hearing or, if an appeal or a petition for certiorari is filed, within five (5) days thereafter, excluding nonjudicial days. If the court finds the child is dependent and neglected, a dispositional hearing shall be held. In scheduling the hearing, the court shall give priority to proceedings in which a child has been removed from the child's home before an order of disposition has been made.

(3) If the petition alleged the child was delinquent or unruly and the court finds that the child committed the alleged delinquent or unruly acts, the court shall further determine whether the child is in need of treatment or rehabilitation and make and file its findings thereon. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, evidence of the commission of acts that constitute a felony or that reflect recidivistic delinquency is sufficient to sustain a finding that the child is in need of treatment or rehabilitation. If the court finds the child is in need of treatment and rehabilitation, a dispositional hearing shall be held. If the court finds the child is not in need of treatment or rehabilitation, it shall dismiss the petition and discharge the child from any detention or other restriction. If the court continues its determination of whether the child is in need of treatment and rehabilitation or the dispositional hearing, it shall make an appropriate order for detention of the child or the child's release from detention, subject to supervision of the court during the period of the continuance. In scheduling the hearings, the court shall give priority to proceedings in which a child is in detention or has otherwise been removed from the child's home before an order of disposition has been made.

(c) (1) Any order of the court that places custody of a child with the department shall empower the department to select any specific residential or treatment placements or programs for the child according to the determination made by the department, its employees, agents or contractors.

(2) The court may review the residential or treatment placement of a child placed in the department's custody, and within ninety (90) days of the placement, the court may, on its own motion, order a hearing to receive evidence and testimony with regard to the appropriateness of the child's residential or treatment placement. The court shall provide notice of the hearing to the department, to the child's biological parent or parents, and any other person who has been primarily responsible for the care of the child during the twelve (12) months prior to the child's placement in the department's custody. The court shall allow thirty (30) days from the time such notices are sent before the hearing date is set. The court shall issue a placement recommendation based on a preponderance of the evidence to the department within ten (10) days after the conclusion of the hearing. Upon receiving the court's recommendation, the department shall issue a determination as to the child's placement within fifteen (15) days. The department shall notify the court, the child's biological parent or parents, and any other person who has been primarily responsible for the care of the child during the twelve (12) months prior to the child's placement.

History: Acts 1970, ch. 600, § 29; 1977, ch. 482, § 3; T.C.A., § 37-229; Acts 1986, ch. 837, § 2; 1987, ch. 240, § 1; 1989, ch. 277, § 1; 1989, ch. 278, § 42; 1996, ch. 1079, §§ 73, 89; 1997, ch. 479, § 1; 2004, ch. 859, § 1; 2010, ch. 820, § 1; 2012, ch. 1016, § 1; 2016, ch. 600, § 4.