Frequently Asked Questions

What is a FINS Petition?
FINS (which stands for FAMILY IN NEED OF SERVICES) is a legal document (Petition) filed with the Juvenile Office and Prosecuting Attorney, alleging the following (but not limited to):
  • Being habitually and without justification absent from school while subject to compulsory school attendance. (TRUANCY) *Note: Petition to be filed ONLY after number of absences exceeds school policy)
  • Being habitually disobedient to the lawful commands of parent, guardian, custodian, or school officials. (DISOBEDIENCE)
  • Having absented themselves from the home without sufficient cause, permission, or justification. (RUNAWAY)
  • Delinquent acts or crimes committed by a Juvenile under the age of 10 years old.

Who can file a FINS Petition?
FINS are typically filed by school officials, parent(s) or guardian(s), and law enforcement.

FINS can be filed by ANY adult; or ANY member 10 years old or older of the immediate family alleged to be in need of services.

How do I file a file a FINS Petition?
Contact the Juvenile Intake Officer.

Submit a written statement of the facts, school records, etc. (ie. documentation for filing the Petition), which MUST be submitted with the Petition.

The person stating these facts MUST be available for the first Court hearing to testify to the facts presented. Failure to appear at the Court hearing may result in dismissal of the FINS Petition.

Who must be notified when a FINS Petition is filed?
Both parents, even if divorced or separated.
The child or children as stated in the Petition.
Custodial adult(s) with whom the child or children are residing (domestic partners, relatives, roommates, etc.).

What can the Court do with a FINS Petition?
If a Juvenile is found by the Court to be a member of a FINS, the Judge can place Juvenile on formal supervision and order services including out patient counseling, drug rehabilitation, residential treatment, and parent training classes. Such services and dispositions are intended to correct behavior and prevent any future problems.

The Judge may also order that a DHHS protective services case be opened.

Probation Officer is assigned to enforce Court’s Orders and supervise compliance with Terms and Conditions of Supervision (i.e., school attendance/discipline referrals, drug tests, counseling appointments, obeying parents, etc).

What can happen if a Juvenile violates Court Order or Terms and Conditions?
Judge can find a Juvenile in Contempt of Court and order further sanctions/ requirements/conditions and services, such as:
  • Extend Period of Formal Supervision
  • Community Service
  • Intensive Supervision & Tracking
  • Electronic Monitor
  • Counseling (Individual and/or Family)
  • Turning Point Theft Offender Program
  • Boot Camp
  • Group Home
  • Residential Treatment
  • Sentence to Juvenile Detention Center

Can parent(s) or guardian(s) be held accountable or punished by the Court?
Judge may find parent(s) or guardian(s) in Contempt of Court if they willfully violate a Court Order OR fail to ensure the Juvenile comply with his/her Orders. The Judge may punish parent(s) or guardian(s) by sentencing them to perform community service, jail time, or fined.

According to A.C.A. 9-27-325 (e)(2), the Court may order the father, mother, or child to submit to scientific testing for drug or alcohol abuse. Parent(s) may be held in Contempt for refusing to submit to a Court ordered drug screen.

Does a FINS change custody or guardianship between parent(s), relative(s), etc.?
Juvenile Division is not the proper Court to change custody of a child between family members. Custody proceedings are typically handled in Domestic Relations.

In some cases the Judge may order temporary custody to another party if the need arises and can order a Juvenile be placed in the custody of DHHS.

Does the Juvenile or parent(s)/guardian(s) need an attorney?
It is the family’s right to hire private counsel. If they do not retain an attorney in the case, the Juvenile will be appointed to the Public Defender for a fee of $25 per case.

Please note the Public Defenderrepresents the Juvenile and NOT the parent(s) or guardian(s). The interests of the parent(s) or guardian(s) may differ from those of their child.

If the parent(s) or guardian(s) are ordered by the Court to appear and show cause as to why they should not be held in Contempt, they can either represent themselves or hire a private attorney. The Public Defender is not appointed to parent(s) or guardian(s) in Juvenile Court.