On March 15, 2022, the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office reported on its Daily Incident Report that on February 25, 2022, they investigated a complaint of an assault at Stone Bridge High School. The report stated that “Assault: The complainant reported that she was assaulted by another student at Stone Bridge High School and was not allowed to leave a bathroom. Petitions were issued by Loudoun County Juvenile Court Services and received for service on March 8. The juvenile was served the petitions on March 11 for Assault, Strangulation, and Abduction by Force.” At this time, the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney does not have any information beyond that reported to the public. Until the case proceeds through the court, the Commonwealth’s Attorney will not opine on the facts as it may jeopardize the integrity of the process and invade the protections afforded to juveniles, both the victims and the accused.
To answer frequent inquiries of “how does the juvenile court process work?,” we provide the following information: The process for charging a juvenile with a crime begins with allegations made to law enforcement. If the officer determines that there is probable cause, the matter is presented by law enforcement to the Juvenile Court Services Unit for consideration of criminal charges. If criminal charges are to be lodged, a petition is filed with the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court and a court date is set for the juvenile to appear for an arraignment. Once the petition is served on the juvenile, the court sets a court date for an arraignment hearing. At the arraignment, the court can address conditions to be placed on the juvenile. The conditions can include contact limitations with the victim, preventing an interim return to the incident school, and other restrictions as the court deems appropriate. The Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney does not have the authority or ability to transfer students into schools. At most, there can be a recommendation that the juvenile does not have contact with the victim, and if they attend the same school, that would require the student to be removed from that school. Decisions regarding school attendance and transfers rest with the school system. Traditionally, after the arraignment hearing is when law enforcement provides the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney with an incident report. At the arraignment hearing, the court addresses the issues of counsel for the accused and the setting of a trial (adjudicatory hearing). If there is a determination of delinquency (equivalent to a finding of guilt for adults), then the court sets a disposition (sentencing) hearing.
Please note, the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney does not have investigatory resources and relies wholly on the law enforcement agencies within Loudoun County and their investigations for the basis of prosecuting criminal offenses in Loudoun County. We are proud of the work they do and support them in their efforts.
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