In Georgia’s Troup County Juvenile Court, the attorney prosecuting a 15-year-old defendant amended the teenager’s petition orally, claiming that one of the charges should be listed as a felony. The trial court allowed the lawyer to make this adjustment after the hearing had begun, affording no notice to the defendant or the defendant’s parents or guardians.
The Juvenile Court supported its decision by referencing O.C.G.A. §15-11-523 (c), noting that the petition cannot be changed once jeopardy attaches to add “new charges of delinquency.” The Court suggested that the oral amendment reflected a correction to the original petition rather than the addition of a new allegation.
The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s order, claiming that correcting a charge to a designated felony materially changed the petition and required the petition, according to subsection (b) of the above-referenced statute, to be served like a summons with regard to O.C.G.A. §§ 15-11-530 and 15-11-531. The Court felt that the trial court did not interpret the statute fully and failed to notify the defendant or the defendant’s parents or guardians in a timely manner.