Overview of Nevada's Juvenile Justice System

Juvenile Justice System Established

Nevada’s formal juvenile justice system is established for the most part by Chapter 62 of the Nevada Revised Statutes (N.R.S.). With the following exceptions, Chapter 62 applies to any person less than 18 years of age or any person less than 21 years of age who commits an act of delinquency before reaching the age of 18 years. The exception relates to a person under the age of 18 years charged with:

  • Murder or attempted murder or any related crime arising out of the same facts as a murder or attempted murder; or
  • If the child has been previously adjudicated delinquent for committing an offense which would have been a felony if committed in this state by an adult and the child was 16 years of age or older at the time of the alleged offense; or
  • A sexual assault involving the use or threatened use of force or violence against the victim; or
  • Any offense involving the use or threatened use of a deadly weapon or an attempt to commit such an offense

Juveniles Certified for Treatment as an Adult

Nevada’s law also provides that a child 14 years of age or older who is charged with an offense which would be a felony if committed by an adult may be certified for treatment as an adult, but no child under the age of 14 may be so certified. Certification as an adult must be made by the juvenile court, but the juvenile court may retain jurisdiction in lieu of certification at it’s discretion except as noted in. The juvenile court may also retain jurisdiction over an adult who is charged with a delinquent act committed before his 18th birthday.

    Wide Array of Services for Children

    As a practical matter, children under the age of 8 are diverted to a wide array of services provided by the Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) of the Nevada Department of Human Resources. Children between the ages of 8 and 12 may be committed to the custody of DCFS for suitable placement in a public or private institution or agency authorized to care for children or otherwise placed by the juvenile court. It is not until a child reaches the age of 12 that they may be committed to one of the two staff secure institutions operated by the State. A third facility opened in June of 2000 was closed in January of 2002 as the private providers contact was terminated. Funding to re-open the facility was approved by the 2003 Legislature and re-opened as a state run facility in January 2004.