How Can an Attorney Help With Juvenile Charges?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Samuel E. Bassett with Minton, Bassett, Flores and Carsey.
Juvenile charges may arise when someone under the age of 18 commits a crime. In this scenario, juvenile law applies (i.e. the statutes that govern how minors can be treated after committing a crime). Depending on the state, a child or teenager may be charged for a criminal offense between a certain range of ages. For example, in Texas, criminal offenses may be heard in juvenile court for children and teenagers between the ages of 10 and 17. For criminal offenses committed below a state’s minimum age, the parents will typically be held responsible. For children over the minimum age, a judge will decide in juvenile court what sort of corrective actions are in the child or teenager’s best interest.
Although not typically as severe as adult charges, juvenile charges can seriously inhibit a child’s future opportunities, academic, employment, and more. Additionally, a juvenile convicted of a criminal offense will be assigned some kind of penalty, which can vary from case to case. Counseling, curfew, and even juvenile detention are common penalties in the event of a juvenile crime conviction. However, a juvenile defense attorney may be able to have a child’s charges reduced or even dropped depending on the situation, and may later be able to assist with expungement of any conviction to clear the individual’s record. In fact, a juvenile defense attorney can even advise the child and their family about what steps they can take for the best chance at a complete expungement.
Some charges are more common than others in juvenile court, including:
- Disorderly conduct
- Underage drinking
- Drug use or possession
- Driving under the influence
- Improper use of a motor vehicle
- Probation violations
Juvenile defense attorneys can help make sure a child’s record is sealed from public record.
Minor defendants typically have certain rights that adult defendants do not. One of the most important differences is that juvenile criminal records may be sealed from public record, typically with the help of an attorney. Additionally, minors have the right to have their parents present during police questioning as well as the right to confidentiality from the public; if law enforcement violates either of these rights during or following the minor’s arrest, an attorney may be able to argue that the charges should be dropped or reduced due to the miscarriage of justice. Juvenile law is unique in this and other ways from typical criminal law, so it’s important to confer with an experienced juvenile defense attorney if your child is facing charges. Additionally, unlike standard proceedings, the judge’s main priority in a juvenile crime case is to make whatever decision is in the best interest of the child; an attorney may be able to represent the child and their family to more effectively communicate the child’s needs, as well as what sort of approach is more likely to result in a behavior change for the individual in question.
To learn more about what juvenile defense attorneys do, or to discuss your child’s case, reach out to a juvenile defense lawyer in your area.