In juvenile delinquency cases, a child (less than 18 years old) is alleged to have broken a law ranging from being out past curfew to a charge of murder. Special court procedures have been created to deal with children who break the law that are separate from the adult criminal process.
An allegation of a Juvenile crime can have a devastating affect on your child’s reputation, livelihood and over all well-being. It is crucial that a juvenile be handled with extreme care and caution by an experienced Juvenile Defense Attorney. At Sevens Legal, our Juvenile defense attorneys work to help prevent young people from getting entangled in the court system. Sevens Legal woks with case officers, judges and law enforcement in developing alternates to juvenile detention, heavy fines or, being charged as an adult.
Vandalism and graffiti charges
Shoplifting and other petty theft charges
Simple assault (especially due to fighting incidents)
Underage drinking violations
Joyriding a car
Juveniles are not prosecuted for committing crimes, but rather delinquent acts. When the delinquent acts are very serious, they may be considered crimes and the juvenile may be tried in the adult system. Juveniles don’t have a right to a public trial by jury. For a juvenile charged with a crime, the trial portion of the case involves a judge hearing evidence and ruling on whether or not the minor is delinquent. This is called an adjudication hearing. Once the juvenile has been deemed delinquent, the court will determine what action should be taken. This stage differs from the adult system in the purpose of the action. In the adult system, the goal is to punish. In the juvenile system, on the other hand, the goal is to rehabilitate and serve the minor’s best interest. Juvenile courts are often more informal than those for adults. For example, rules about the admissibility of evidence may be more lenient.
Juvenile courts deal with two types of offenses. Minors charged with “status offenses” are accused of doing something that would have been legal but for the minor’s age when doing the act. This can include minor in possession of alcohol or driving a vehicle before the minor has been issued a license to drive a motor vehicle. This is a less serious category of charges than “delinquency crimes,” which are offenses committed by a minor that would be crimes regardless of age.
When a minor is facing a juvenile criminal case he is not entitled to a jury trial. A juvenile court judge or commissioner will decide his guilt or innocence. The burden of proof is the same as in adult court; the prosecutor must present enough evidence to convince the judge “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the juvenile is guilty of the crime. Unfortunately in juvenile criminal cases there is no such thing as bail. The court decides to either release the minor to his parents pending the outcome of the case or the minor is detained in juvenile hall. Due to the serious nature of criminal charges in juvenile court the minor has the right to have a lawyer defend him at all stages of the proceeding.
When a juvenile over age 14 is accused of certain serious crimes the prosecutor may decide to try him as an “adult”. When a juvenile is facing such a charge it is critical that they retain the services of an experienced juvenile criminal defense attorney. In a case where a juvenile is tried as an adult this means that if he is found guilty he can face “adult consequences” which can mean many years in prison.
Minors taken into custody must be brought to court within 48 hours of their arrest and be advised of the charges against them. At the first court hearing, called the detention hearing the court will decide whether to release the minor to his parents or to detain the minor in custody pending the trial. It is important that the juvenile had a lawyer at the outset of his case so the lawyer can prepare for the detention hearing and try to convince the court that the minor will not be a risk to the community if his parents are allowed to supervise him under strict conditions.
At Sevens Legal we are known for our overwhelmingly high standards in representing juveniles and their specific case. It is our passion that allows use to get the best results for all juvenile cases and in working with judges and other court officials, we guarantee the best possible outcome. If you have any questions regarding a juvenile crime, please call for a free consultation.