CHAPTER 241 - FAMILY COURT--NEW CASTLE COUNTY ESTABLISHMENT
AN ACT CREATING A FAMILY COURT FOR NEW CASTLE COUNTY.
Be it hereby enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Delaware in General Assembly met (two-thirds of all members elected to each House thereof concurring therein):
SECTION 1. Purpose, Basic Principle and Construction:--The purposes of this Act are to secure for each child under its jurisdiction such care, guidance and control, preferably in his own home, as will serve the child's welfare and the best interests of the State; and when such child is removed from his own family to secure for him custody, care and discipline as nearly as possible equivalent to that which should have been given by his own parents, and to give original and exclusive jurisdiction to one Court in which matters pertaining to a family, as hereinafter defined, may be adjudicated, the said Court to have jurisdiction over both civil and criminal matters, as hereinafter set forth; and to provide for investigation of circumstances, and such probation work as may remove the necessity for committing persons to the corrective institutions of the State, to the end that the home shall, if possible, remain unbroken and the legal duty and responsibility existing between man and wife, and parent and child, shall be recognized. The sections of this Act shall be liberally construed that these purposes may be carried out.
SECTION 2. Court Established:--There is hereby created and established a Court of Record which shall be known by the name, style and title of "The Family Court for New Castle County, Delaware". This Court shall be composed of, be in charge of and be presided over by a Judge, who shall be appointed and who shall serve as herein provided.
SECTION 3. Definitions:--When used in this Act without modification, the word "Court" shall mean the Family Court established by this Act. The word "Judge" shall mean the Judge of the Family Court and shall include the Deputy Judge as hereinafter provided. The word "child" shall mean a person who has not yet attained his eighteenth birthday.
The words "delinquent child" shall mean any child who violates any law of this State, or any charter, ordinance or regulation of a sub-division thereof, or who by reason of being wayward or habitually disobedient is uncontrolled by his parent, guardian or custodian, or who is habitually truant from home or school, or who habitually so deports himself as to injure or endanger the morals or health of himself or others.
The words "neglected child" shall mean any child who is abandoned by his parent, guardian or custodian; or whose parent, guardian or custodian cruelly abuses or willfully neglects him or refuses to provide proper or necessary subsistence, education or other care necessary for his health, morals or wellbeing; or who is found in a disreputable place, or who associates with vagrant, vicious or immoral persons, or who engages in an occupation forbidden by the law of this State, or by any charter, ordinance or regulation of a sub-division thereof, or injurious to the health or morals of himself or others.
The words "dependent child" shall mean a child who is homeless or destitute or without proper support or care through no fault of his parent, guardian or custodian; or who lacks proper care by reason of the mental or physical condition of the parent, guardian or custodian.
The word "family" as used in this Act shall be construed to mean husband and wife, parent and child, guardian and ward, and also any group of persons residing together in one home or household and under one head or management, who are related or connected by blood, marriage or operation of law.
SECTION 4. Jurisdiction:--The Court shall have exclusive original jurisdiction in all proceedings in New Castle County;
(a) Concerning any child residing in New Castle County who is alleged to be delinquent, neglected or dependent;
(b) Concerning any child residing in said county charged with having violated any law of this State or any charter, ordinance or regulation of a sub-division thereof;
(c) For the enforcement of any law, regulation or ordinance for the education, protection, care or support of children;
(d) For the prosecution and punishment of persons within a family charged with ill treatment, abuse, abandonment or neglect of children, or with contributing to their delinquency, neglect or dependency, or with any other offense, except felonies, against children;
(e) Involving offenses, except felonies and wife-beating, committed by one member of a family against another member of said family, and of criminal cases, except felonies, in which one member of a family is complainant against another member of said family;
(f) Wherein any husband shall, without just cause, desert or willfully neglect or refuse to provide for the support and maintenance of his wife in destitute or necessitous circumstances or wherein any parent shall, without lawful excuse, desert or willfully neglect or refuse to provide for the support of his or her child or children, under the age of sixteen years, whether born in wedlock or otherwise, as set forth in Paragraphs 3527 Sec. 2. to 3539 Sec. 14. inclusive of Chapter 87 of the Revised Code of Delaware of 1935;
(g) Concerning maintenance of illegitimate children as set forth in Paragraphs 3558, Sec. 11 to 3572, Sec. 25, inclusive and 3575, Sec. 28, of Chapter 88 of the Revised Code of Delaware of 1935;
(h) Concerning children of immoral or negligent parents as set forth in Article 3 of Chapter 88, Paragraphs 3554 to 3557 inclusive of the Revised Code of Delaware of 1935;
(i) Concerning liability of relatives for the support of an inmate of the State Welfare Home or a poor person as provided by Paragraph 1634 Sec. 31. of Chapter 54 of the Revised Code of Delaware of 1935;
(j) Relative to cruel treatment of children, disposition of children for certain purposes and the appointment of a guardian for any minor upon conviction of person having control thereof and the right of entry and investigation, as provided by Paragraphs 2546 Sec. 48 to 2549 Sec. 51. inclusive of Chapter 70 of the Revised Code of Delaware of 1935;
(k) Relative to the charge and custody of minor children when the parents shall live in the state of separation without being divorced, as provided by Paragraph 2550 Sec. 52. of Chapter 70 of the Revised Code of Delaware of 1935;
(1) Relative to the offense of abducting, taking or conveying away, without color of right, of a minor child under twelve years of age, as provided by Paragraph 2553 Sec. 55. of Chapter 70 of the Revised Code of Delaware of 1935;
(m) Relative to the offenses of aiding escape or harboring, etc., of one committed to or on parole from Woods Haven School for Girls, the Ferris School for Boys, or the Kruse School, as provided by Paragraphs 2513 Sec. 15, 2524 Sec. 26. and 2531 Sec. 33. of Chapter 70 of the Revised Code of Delaware of 1935;
(n) All violations of the law regulating child labor, as provided by Paragraphs 3601 Sec. 11, to 3629 Sec. 39. of Article 3 of Chapter 90 of the Revised Code of Delaware of 1935;
(o) Relative to the unlawful placing or admitting a resident dependent child without the written consent of the State Board of Welfare and the unlawful bringing or sending a non-resident dependent child into this State without the written consent of the State Board of Welfare, as provided by Paragraphs 1125 Sec. 11. and 1126 Sec. 12. of Chapter 41 of the Revised Code of Delaware of 1935;
(p) Relative to the sale or furnishing of cigarettes to a minor under seventeen years of age, as provided by Paragraph 3991 Sec. 96 of Chapter 100; the sale of deadly weapons to a minor, as provided by Paragraph 233 Sec. 199 of Chapter 6; permitting minors under eighteen years of age to be present at games of chance, as provided by Paragraph 4064 Sec. 169. of Chapter 100; admitting a minor under eighteen years of age to, or permitting him to remain in certain places of amusement where intoxicating liquors are sold, etc., as provided by Paragraph 2552 Sec. 54. of Chapter 70; and the unlawful sale or delivery of certain drugs to a minor under sixteen years of age, as provided by Paragraph 949 Sec. 14 of Chapter 28--all of the Revised Code of Delaware of 1935;
(q) Now within the jurisdiction of the Juvenile Court for the City of Wilmington and New Castle County, as now provided by law pursuant to the provisions of Article 2 of Chapter 116, Paragraphs 4327 Sec. 12. to 4345 Sec. 30. inclusive of the Revised Code of Delaware of 1935, which jurisdiction by this Act is extended to all children until such children shall have attained their eighteenth birthdays.
And further, the Court shall have concurrent jurisdiction in New Castle County,
(a) Relative to admissions and commitments to the custody of the Delaware Commission for Feeble Minded, as provided by Article 12 of Chapter 70 of the Revised Code of Delaware of 1935;
(b) Of the offense of lewdly and lasciviously playing or toying with a female child under the age of sixteen years, as provided by Paragraph 5168 Sec. 12. of Chapter 149 of the Revised Code of Delaware of 1935;
Said Court also shall have jurisdiction, power and authority to receive, hear, try and dispose of all cases, arguments, motions, petitions, matters and business as, by certificates of the Judges of the Superior Court, Court of General Sessions or Orphans Court for New Castle County, May be assigned or transferred to it by any of said Courts, pursuant to rules of said Courts made for that purpose.
All rulings, decisions, judgments or determinations of any character made by the Judge in any cause or matter assigned or transferred to it as herein provided shall be certified by said Judge of the Family Court to the Court from which same was assigned or transferred and upon approval thereof by said last mentioned Court, with or without any further proceeding, shall be entered in said last mentioned Court as the ruling, decision, judgment or determination thereof.
Such jurisdiction shall extend to and include any amendment, supplement or addition heretofore, or hereafter, made in relation to the matters and offenses above specified and shall include the right and authority to inquire of, hear, try and finally determine all such proceedings and to impose judgment by probation, fine or imprisonment, agreeable to the laws of this State, or to any charter, ordinance or regulation of a subdivision thereof in New Castle County.
The Court shall have authority to punish contempt, and to issue all process necessary for the exercise of its jurisdiction, which process may be executed in any part of the State, and it shall be the duty of any sheriff, county, town or city constable, or police officer, within his respective jurisdiction, to execute the same when placed in his hands and to make proper return thereof, and any failure properly to execute the same and to make return as directed shall be punishable as a contempt of said Court.
The Court shall have the authority and jurisdiction of a Conservator of the Peace within New Castle County, and said Court shall have the jurisdiction and authority, as a committing magistrate, to commit for trial at the proper Court all persons charged with a breach of any of the laws of this State or with a breach of any charter, ordinance or regulation of a sub-division thereof; it shall commit or bind the defendant for his appearance at the proper Court to answer the charge and may bind the witnesses for their appearance and may require surety of them as deemed necessary. The process issued by said Court, sitting as a committing magistrate, shall be the same as is issued by a Justice of the Peace in like cases, and all process shall be directed and shall be executed in like manner as other process issued out of the Court.
Said Court shall have no jurisdiction, other than that of a committing magistrate, in cases wherein a child, as herein defined, is charged with the commission of a capital felony.
SECTION 5. Appointment of Judge:--Upon the approval of this Act the Governor, by and with the consent of a majority of all members elected to the Senate, shall appoint and commission a Judge who shall hold office for a term of six years, or until a successor is appointed, and who shall have power and authority to hold and preside over the Court.
The Judge shall be a person duly admitted to the practice of law in the State of Delaware who, in the opinion of the Governor, shall be qualified to be a Judge of the Court by his acquaintance with social problems and understanding of child psychology. Said Judge shall be eligible for re-appointment. During his tenure of office the Judge shall be permitted to engage in the practice of law excepting matters within the jurisdiction of the Family Court.
If a vacancy shall occur by expiration of term or otherwise, the Governor shall fill said vacancy as aforesaid for the full term.
The salary of the Judge shall be Six Thousand Dollars ($6,000.00) per annum.
On or before August 1, 1945, and on or before August first in each year thereafter, the Judge shall submit to the Governor a written statement recommending a particular member of the bar of New Castle County, Delaware, except the supervisor of probation, for appointment as Deputy Judge of the Court. On or before September 1, 1945, and on or before September 1st of each year thereafter, the Governor shall appoint a Deputy Judge for the period of one year or until his successor shall have been appointed and qualified.
It shall be the duty of the Deputy Judge to hold Court during the absence, disability or disqualification of the Judge. The Deputy Judge shall be eligible for re-appointment.
When holding the Court, the Deputy Judge shall receive a salary of Twenty-five Dollars ($25.00) per day, payable in the same manner as all other expenses of the Court.
SECTION 6. Power of Judge:--The Judge shall have full power to adopt a seal, make and publish general rules regulating the practice and proceedings of the Court and the keeping of its records, including a schedule of costs and fees, and providing for such deposits as may be deemed necessary, and, subject to the provisions of this Act, shall have all the powers of a Court of Record possessed by a Court of general jurisdiction of this State.
SECTION 7. Clerk:--The Judge shall appoint a suitable person to act as Clerk of the Court, who shall hold the office of Clerk at the pleasure of the Judge, and shall receive an annual salary of twenty-fou* hundred dollars ($2,400.00). The Clerk shall have care of the records of the Court and he shall receive all fees, fines and costs arising out of any proceeding had in the Court, and shall pay the same over, one-half to the Mayor and Council of the City of Wilmington and one-half to the Levy Court of New Castle County, as prescribed by law.
The Clerk before entering upon the duties of his office shall give bond to the State of Delaware in the sum of three thousand dollars ($3,000.00), with sufficient surety, to execute faithfully all the duties of his office during his continuance therein, such bond to be approved by the Judge; and should the Clerk so appointed fail to give bond as required within ten days from the date of his appointment, the Judge shall make a new appointment.
The Clerk may administer all necessary oaths; he shall enter the judgments, issue commitments and execution to enforce the same, and make up and keep the records of the Court in all cases therein under the direction of the Judge. The Clerk shall issue all process under his hand and the seal of the Court and test the same in the name of the Judge, signing it by his title of office, and shall tax costs.
He may issue warrants, upon complaint filed in writing, and upon oath, in all cases within the jurisdiction of and returnable before the Judge.
He may take bail from persons arrested when the Court is not in session, subject to revision by the Court, and shall also, under like direction of the Judge, do all other acts necessary to carry out the jurisdiction and process of the Court.
SECTION 8. Salaries of Director and Probation Officers:-- Subject to the provisions of Section 10 hereof, the Judge shall select and appoint a Director, who shall be supervisor of Probation and who shall receive a salary of not less than four thousand dollars ($4,000.00) annually, and such probation officers, each of whom shall receive a salary of not less than eighteen hundred dollars ($1,800.00) annually, and other employees as he shall deem necessary, and shall fix all salaries therefor, subject to the limitations herein, and shall determine all necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties; provided, however, that the total Budget of the Court shall not exceed the sum of forty-two thousand five hundred dollars ($42,500.00) for any year.
SECTION 9. Payment of Expenses:--The Judge shall annually submit a budget to the Mayor and Council of the City of Wilmington and to the Levy Court of New Castle County showing and enumerating the salaries and estimated expenses of operating the Court, within the limits set forth in this Act and in accordance therewith. One-half of this budget shall be paid by the said Mayor and Council and one-half by the said Levy Court. The aforesaid budget shall be submitted not later than the first day of May of every year. A Budget of estimated salaries and expenses for the year July 1, 1945, to June 30, 1946, shall be submitted as soon as this Act is approved and the Judge shall have been appointed. All salaries of the Court shall be paid semimonthly and all expenses paid monthly unless some regulation or ordinance of the Levy Court of New Castle County or of the Mayor and Council of the City of Wilmington shall decree otherwise.
SECTION 10. Appointment of Probation Officers and Other Employees:--The Director and probation officers of various classifications shall be appointed by the Judge of the Family Court. The Judge shall satisfy himself as to their education, ability, experience, personality, knowledge of and general adaptability to probation service. The word "experience" as used in this Section shall include knowledge gained in the supervision over or care of children and from personal contacts with adults and children. The Director, all probation officers and all employees of the Family Court shall hold office at the discretion of the Judge.
It is expressly provided, however, that at the time of the establishment of the Family Court, the Judge, notwithstanding the foregoing provisions, may continue as employees of the Family Court in corresponding positions or as Clerk of the Court any or all persons employed in the Juvenile Court of the City of Wilmington and New Castle County and in the probation office under the Desertion and Support Law, so employed on June 30, 1945.
SECTION 11. Duties and Powers of Probation Officers:--The Director, under the supervision of the Judge, shall have charge of probation and the general administration of the work of the Court offices. He shall furnish to any person placed on probation a written statement of the conditions of probation and shall instruct him regarding them. He shall keep himself informed concerning the conduct and condition of each person under his supervision and shall report thereon to the Judge as he may direct. Each probation officer shall use all suitable methods to aid persons on probation and to bring about improvement in their conduct and condition. Full records shall be kept of all probation work and accurate and complete accounts of moneys collected and reports thereon shall be made as the Judge may direct. Receipts shall be given to all persons paying any money to the Court. Probation officers for the purpose of this Act shall have the powers of Conservators of the Peace, and also the power and authority to serve and return any writs or process issued by the Court.
When any complaint has been made or petition filed with the Court, it shall be the duty of the probation officers to make an investigation of such case, to furnish to the Court such information and assistance as the Judge may require, and to take charge of any child before and after hearing or trial, as may be directed by the Court.
SECTION 12. Petition; Summons; Warrant:--Any reputable person having knowledge of a child within said County who appears to be either neglected or dependent or delinquent, may file with the Clerk of the Court, a petition in writing setting forth the facts, verified by affidavit. The proceeding shall be entitled: "The State of Delaware in the interest of (naming child), a child under eighteen years of age".
Upon the filing of the petition, and after such investigation as may be necessary has been made by a probation officer, by any institution receiving state aid, or any other welfare agency as the Judge may direct, a summons or other process may issue requiring the person having custody or control of the child, or with whom the child may be, to appear with the child at a place and time stated in the summons or other process, which time and place shall be discretionary with the Judge. If, in the opinion of the Judge, the best interests of the child require a summons returnable forthwith, such summons or other process may issue.
The parents of the child, if living, and their residence, if known to the petitioner, or its legal guardian, if there be one, and his residence, if known to the petitioner, or if there be neither parent nor guardian, or if his residence is not known, then some near relative, if his residence is known to the petitioner, shall be notified of the proceedings and in any case the Judge may appoint some suitable person to act in behalf of the child. A summons or other process of this Court may be served by any Probation Officer, Sheriff, County, Town or City Constable or Police Officer within his respective jurisdiction within the State of Delaware, either by reading the same to the person to be served, or by delivering a copy thereof to the person, or by leaving a copy thereof at his usual place of abode, in the presence of an adult person.
The return of such summons or other process, with the endorsement of service by the Probation Officer, Sheriff, County, Town or City Constable or Police Officer, in accordance herewith, shall be sufficient proof thereof. If the person summoned as herein provided, shall fail, without reasonable cause, to appear and abide the order of the Court or to bring the child, he may be proceeded against as in case of contempt of court. In case the summons cannot be served, or the party fails to obey the same, and in any case where it shall be made to appear to the Court that such summons will be ineffectual, a capias may issue on the order of the Court, either against the parent or guardian or the person having the custody of the child, or with whom the child may be, or against the child, or both.
SECTION 13. Custody of Child Pending Hearing:--Until the determination of the case the Court, or the Director, may release the child upon his own recognizance, or upon recognizance of either parents, or of the person having the custody of the child, to appear before the Court at such time as may be therein fixed, or said Director may cause the child to be placed in the Detention Home, or with some person, institution or agency for the care of children, selected by the Judge, to be safely kept until the date set for appearance before the Court; or the child may be detained pending a hearing in manner ordered by the Judge; provided, however, that no child as defined in this Act, except by specific order of the Judge shall be incarcerated in the county workhouse or city police station or any jail. Any officer or person who knowingly violates the above provision shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, fined in a sum not to exceed one hundred dollars ($100.00).
SECTION 14. Criminal Prosecution of Children Forbidden; Exception:--When any child is arrested with or without warrant he shall not be taken before the Municipal Court of the City of Wilmington, the Court of Common Pleas for New Castle County, or before a Justice of the Peace, Alderman or any other Magistrate, but shall be taken to the place of detention designated by the Judge of the Family Court or directly before the Family Court, which Court shall proceed to take jurisdiction of the case. No child, as defined by this Act, shall be charged with, or prosecuted for, any crime or unlawful act, other than a capital felony, in any Court in New Castle County, other than the Family Court established by the provisions of this Act, where he shall be proceeded against as a delinquent child as hereinbefore defined. Any child so arrested shall have the right, given to any person, to give bond or other security for his appearance for trial before the Court.
Any person, school, association or institution of this State (except the Detention Home for Juveniles of the State), to which a child is sent, pending hearing, for board, care and safe keeping under order of the Court, shall be entitled to receive for such services a sum not to exceed one dollar ($1.00) per day for each and every day; the said sum to be paid one-half by the Mayor and Council of the City of Wilmington and one-half by the Levy Court of New Castle County. The Judge shall have power to order the parent, or guardian, or anyone having the care or custody of the child, to pay the sum for services as aforesaid; and if said person, without reasonable cause, refuses to pay for such services so ordered by the Court, then he may be proceeded against as in a case of contempt of court.
SECTION 15. Hearing; Adjudication; Evidence:--On return of the summons or other process, or on the appearance of the child, with or without summons or other process, in person, before the Court, or as soon thereafter as possible, the Court shall proceed to hear and dispose of the case.
No adjudication upon the status of any child in the jurisdiction of the Court shall operate to impose any of the civil disabilities imposed by conviction nor shall any child be deemed a criminal by reason of such adjudication, nor shall such adjudication be deemed a conviction.
The disposition of any child under the provisions of this Act, or any evidence given in such case shall not, in any civil, criminal or other cause or proceeding whatever, in any court, be lawful or proper evidence against such child for any purpose whatever, except in subsequent cases concerning such child within the Family Court.
SECTION 16. Disposition of the Child:--The Court may continue the hearing from time to time and may commit the child to the care of a probation officer and may allow said child to remain in the child's own home, subject to the supervision of a probation officer as often as may be required, and subject to being returned to the Court for further proceedings whenever such action may appear necessary; or the Court may cause the child to be placed in a suitable relative's home, subject to the supervision of the court; or the court may commit the child for foster home placement to the State Board of Welfare or to any licensed private child-placing agency in the State in case provision is made by voluntary contribution or otherwise for the payment of the board of such child; or the Court may commit a delinquent male child to the Ferris School for Boys or a delinquent female child to the Woods Haven School for Girls or to the Kruse School; or the Court may commit the child to any other institution within the State, incorporated under the laws of the State, that cares for children, or which may be provided by the State, County, or Municipality, suitable for the care of such children, or to any association or agency, or to a religious institution of the child's religious faith or of the religious faith of his parents, established for the care of children; provided, however, that it shall be unlawful to send or commit any but a delinquent child to the Ferris School for Boys, or to the Woods Haven School for Girls, or to the Kruse School.
When jurisdiction shall have been acquired by the Court in the case of any child, such child may be continued under the jurisdiction of the Court until he becomes twenty-one years of age. In no case shall the commitment of a child under the provisions of this Act extend beyond his twenty-first birthday.
A child committed to any institution or agency, shall be subject, in conformity with the provisions of this Act, to the control of the Board of Managers or Trustees of such institution or agency, under the laws of the State governing such institution or agency.
SECTION 17. Physical and Mental Examinations and Treatment:--The Court may cause any person within its jurisdiction to be examined by a physician or psychologist.
Whenever a child concerning whom a petition has been filed appears to the Court to be in need of nursing, medical or surgical care, the Court may order the parent or other person responsible for the care and support of such child to provide such care in a hospital or otherwise. If such parent or other person fails to provide such care, the Court may, after due notice, enter an order therefor, and the expense thereof, when approved by the Court, shall be paid as are other expenses of the Court; but the Court may order and decree that the person having the duty under the law to support such child pay part or all of the expenses of such care. The Court may, after giving the parent a reasonable opportunity to be heard, order and decree that such parent shall pay in such manner as the Court may direct such sum, within his ability to pay, as determined by the Court, as will cover in whole or in part such care of such child, and if such parent shall willfully fail or refuse to pay such sum, a transcript of such Court decree or order shall be entered in the Prothonotary's Office of New Castle County in the same manner as any other judgment of record and execution process may issue as in any civil case.
SECTION 18. Appeal:--Any order of the Court relative to the custody of any child shall be subject to review, and his parent, guardian, next friend or any interested person or agency, at any time within thirty days after the date of such order, upon giving security for costs_ as herein provided, may appeal to the Resident Associate Judge of New Castle County, who shall rehear the case; and for that purpose shall cause said child to be brought before him, and also the witnesses on behalf of the State and the custodian, and upon such rehearing, the Resident Associate Judge shall make such order in the matter as he shall deem proper, and such judgment shall be final.
Such appeal shall not be allowed unless such parent, guardian, next friend or interested person or agency shall give bond to the State of Delaware in such amount, and with such surety as shall be approved by said Resident Judge, conditioned for the payment of the costs of such appeal and rehearing. The taxing of costs shall be within the discretion of the Resident Judge.
SECTION 19. Non-Support; Paternity:--The Family Court shall have original, sole and exclusive jurisdiction within New Castle County to inquire of, hear, try and finally determine all offenses and proceedings in desertion or non-support causes pursuant to the provisions of Article 1 of Chapter 87 of the Revised Code of Delaware of 1935, and in causes relative to illegitimate children pursuant to the provisions of Article 4 of Chapter 88 of the Revised Code of Delaware of 1935.
SECTION 20. Duties of Other Judges:--It shall be the duty of the Municipal Court for the City of Wilmington, the Court of Common Pleas for New Castle County, every Justice of the Peace. or other committing Magistrate, whenever any person is brought before said Court or officer, charged with any criminal matter or offense properly cognizable in said Family Court, to inquire into the same, and if it shall be found that there is probable ground for the charge, the accused person shall be held in bail for his or her appearance at a session of the said Family Court not more than four days after said hearing, and in default of bail the person accused shall be committed to the custody of the High Constable of the City of Wilmington, to be by him delivered to said Family Court at the next session thereof. All bail bonds shall be forthwith forwarded to the Clerk of the Family Court at Wilmington.
The said Municipal Court, Court of Common Pleas, and Justices of the Peace or other committing Magistrates, shall also bind material witnesses for their appearance at such a session of the Family Court without surety unless it is probable that any such witness will not appear and that loss of his testimony ought not to be risked, in which case the Judge or magistrate may require surety and may commit the witness if surety be not given for his appearance at the trial of the accused, concerning whose alleged offense said person is a material witness.
SECTION 21. Issuance of Warrant in Absence of Clerk:-- In the absence from his office of the Clerk of the Family Court, the House Sergeant on duty, as such, at the Police Station in the City of Wilmington, is authorized and empowered to issue, under his hand and seal; a warrant or warrants for the arrest of any person or persons charged, on oath or affirmation before him, to be guilty of any offense or crime within the jurisdiction of said Family Court, and said House Sergeant is hereby authorized and empowered to administer any such oath or affirmation.
Warrants issued as provided in this Section shall be in the same form, directed in the same manner, confer the same authority and immunity upon the officer or officers executing the same, returned in the manner and in all respects as lawful and effectual as if the said warrants had been issued by the Clerk of the Family Court as herein provided.
At all times, a Justice of the Peace outside of the City of Wilmington, when he deems it more convenient to the complainant, or necessary for the preservation of peace and good order within his jurisdiction, is authorized and empowered to issue, under his hand and seal, a warrant or warrants for the arrest of any person or persons charged, on oath or affirmation before him, to be guilty of any offense or crime within the jurisdiction of the Court, and upon such person, arrested under a warrant so issued, other than a child who has not attained his eighteenth birthday, being brought before him, he shall proceed as provided by Section 20 of this Act. If the child so arrested is a child who has not yet attained his eighteenth birthday, said child shall be taken to the place of detention designated by the Judge, or directly before the Family Court as provided by Section 14 of this Act.
In the absence from his office of the Clerk, the House Sergeant on duty, as such, at the Police Station in the City of Wilmington, shall have the power and authority to fix the amount of, approve, receive and take bail for the appearance of any person or persons under arrest or detention at the next ensuing session of the Court. Bail Bonds taken as authorized by this Section shall be as binding, effective, and subject to the same liability and proceedings as if the same had been taken by the Clerk of the Court.
The said bail bonds shall be filed with the Clerk of the Court before or at the session of the Court next ensuing.
The House Sergeant, in like circumstances, shall also have the power and authority to issue subpoenas on behalf of a person arrested returnable, if so requested, at the next session of the Court.
The Clerk of the Court, or in his absence, said House Sergeant, is authorized to accept from any person, who shall have been arrested for any offense cognizable before the Court, cash bail for the appearance of the person so arrested. After the acceptance of the cash bail if the person depositing it fails to appear and answer the charge upon which he was arrested, the Judge shall declare the said money forfeited, and order that after all witness fees are paid, the bail shall be disbursed as are other costs and fines collected by the Court, as provided by Section 27 hereof.
SECTION 22. Appeal to General Sessions:--From any order, ruling, decision or judgment of the Court there shall be the right of appeal in form and in manner provided herein or by law; and in every case in which the sentence shall be imprisonment exceeding one month, or a fine exceeding one hundred dollars, and in such other cases as provided by law, there shall be the right of appeal to the Court of General Sessions, provided such appeal is taken within fifteen days from the date of conviction, or within such time as provided by law. If not otherwise provided by law, the appellant shall give bond to the State of Delaware in such sum and with or without surety as the Judge shall determine, with condition that the obligation shall be void if the appellant shall, appear at the time named therein in the Court to which the appeal is taken and shall prosecute the appeal with effect and not depart the Court without leave, otherwise to be and remain in full force and virtue.
SECTION 23. Prosecutions by Information:--Prosecutions in the Family Court shall be by information, without indictment by Grand Jury or trial by Petit Jury.
SECTION 24. Privacy of Hearings:--Within the discretion of the Judge all hearings of the Court shall be in private. The procedure thereof shall be private and informal in nature so far as the same may be lawful, and all actions relating to delinquent, neglected, or dependent children shall be heard separately, and at different times from those relating to non-support, domestic relations, the paternity of children born out of wedlock, and criminal cases.
SECTION 25. Sessions of the Court: - The Family Court shall be in session from day to day subject to such rules and regulations as the Judge thereof may promulgate; provided, however, that the Judge shall have full power to order adjournments of the sitting of the Court from time to time as he may deem advisable, but no period of adjournment shall be for more than two weeks.
In the absence of the Judge, or Deputy Judge, the Clerk thereof shall open and adjourn the Court from day to day except as above provided.
SECTION 26. Court Rooms:--The Court shall sit and hold court in the Public Building in the City of Wilmington, and it shall be the duty of the Public Building Commission for the City of Wilmington and New Castle County to select and set apart for the Family Court suitable rooms, properly furnished, for the use of the Court and its Officers.
SECTION 27. Fee for Process and Witnesses; Costs and Fines:--In all proceedings before the Court there may be allowed and assessed for the service of process and the attendance of witnesses a reasonable fee. Concerning costs of petitions, motions, rules and other matters not specifically provided for, the Court shall make such orders in each case as it shall deem proper. The Judge may order, assess, and impose costs and fines as provided by law, or by the sections hereof, and all sums for costs and fines when so assessed and collected shall be paid one-half to the Mayor and Council of the City of Wilmington and one-half to the Levy Court of New Castle County. No employee or officer of the Court shall be eligible to receive a witness fee.
SECTION 28. Consent to Juvenile Marriage:--The Judge of the Family Court, or the Resident Associate Judge of New Castle County, or such person as either said Judge may appoint, shall have the power and authority to sign the Consent Forms to marriages of minors as provided by Paragraph 3491 Sec. 7. of Chapter 85 of the Revised Code of Delaware of 1935 and, so properly to provide, said Paragraph 3491 Sec. 7. is hereby amended by repealing and striking out thereof the clauses, viz:--
"then the Judge of the Juvenile Court of Wilmington, or the person such Judge may appoint to sign Consent Forms, if the minor in question resides in Wilmington, or the Resident Judge of the County where the minor in question resides, if he is not a resident of Wilmington,"
and inserting in lieu thereof, the following:--
"then for New Castle County the Judge of the Family Court for New Castle County, or the Resident Associate Judge of New Castle County, or such person as either of said Judges may appoint, and for either Kent or Sussex County, the Resident Associate Judge."
SECTION 29. Certain Offices Abolished:--Upon the opening of the Family Court, on the First day of July, A. D. 1945, the special Court for the City of Wilmington and New Castle County, known as the Juvenile Court, and the offices of Judge, Chief Probation Officer, Probation Officers and all other officers and employees thereof are hereby abolished and terminated.
SECTION 30. Additional Powers of Judge:--The Judge may at any time, after due notice of hearing to the parties interested in the matter before the court, review, revise or revoke any prior order, ruling, decision, decree or Judgment of the Court with reference to the custody of a child or any order for his support or care.
All powers and duties heretofore vested in the Judge of the Juvenile Court of New Castle County and not in conflict with the provisions of this Act are hereby vested in the Judge of the Family Court.
SECTION 31. Savings Clause:--No offense committed and no penalty or judgment incurred under the provisions of any laws existing prior to the first day of July, A. D. 1945 shall be affected by this Act; and the provisions of said laws, as heretofore existing, shall be continued in full force and effect as to all such offenses, penalties or judgments.
SECTION 32. Cases Transferred cases within the jurisdiction of the Family Court as herein set forth, previously adjudicated in any court which are active cases on July 1, 1945, shall be transferred on that date to the Family Court and the records thereof shall become the records of the Family Court, which shall have authority to carry out such orders or judgments as were previously made therein.
SECTION 33. Invalid Sections Shall Not Affect Other Sections:--If any word, section, paragraph, clause, or sentence of this Act shall be declared invalid by any Court of competent jurisdiction, the remaining sections, paragraphs, clauses, and sentences shall not be affected.
Approved April 20, 1945.