Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
What is Juvenile Law?
Ask a Juvenile Law Attorney for Legal Advice
Juvenile law refers to the statutes that govern how minors should be treated after committing a crime. Unlike the court system for adults who have broken the law, juvenile court is civil and offenders are considered delinquent rather than criminal. In most states, the maximum age for a person to qualify for juvenile court is 17. Most states consider children under the age of 7 exempt from having to be held accountable for delinquent acts in juvenile court. In most cases, if a child under the age of 7 commits a delinquent act, the parents are considered responsible. The corrective actions available to be enforced on a delinquent juvenile can vary based on what the judge deems to be in the child’s best interest. The proceedings of a juvenile court are entirely separate from those of a criminal court, and may result in the court retaining legal authority over a delinquent juvenile for a specific period of time.
Counseling and curfew are two ways that a minor delinquency may be corrected. However, sentencing for a juvenile violation could range from house arrest to time mandated to be spent in a juvenile detention facility. If your child has been accused of a crime, contact a juvenile law attorney to learn more about your options as well as the process for a juvenile court hearing. Other issues handled in juvenile court include juvenile dependency cases in which a minor child was abused or neglected by their guardians and needs to be removed from that home environment.
What are the Statistics on the Juvenile Justice System?
By far the most common offenses perpetrated by juveniles are property offenses such as theft or property damage. Other common offenses are simple assault, drug abuse, and disorderly conduct. Aggravated assault and violent crimes are among the least common violations perpetrated by minors, although they do occur. To understand how the juvenile justice system works, it may help to take a look at some related data.
Let’s go over some important juvenile law statistics according to Youth.Gov:
- Approximately 2.1 million youth under the age of 18 are arrested in the United States each year.
- Approximately 1.7 million delinquency cases are heard in juvenile courts annually.
- In less than 1% of all juvenile cases, some juvenile offenders may be tried as an adult if a crime is particularly violent.
- In 2008, property offenses made up 37.5% of charges for youth between the ages of 12 and 17, followed by public order offenses at 27.1%, offense against persons at 24.3%, and drug law violations at 11.2%.
- About 57% of youth decided to be delinquent are placed on probation.
- Approximately 86,900 youth under the age of 21 are detained or confined in public and private detention centers or correctional institutions.
- Detained or incarcerated juveniles may be subject to various negative circumstances, including overcrowding, physical and sexual violence, trauma, risk of suicide, and death.
- Girls are the fastest growing population to enter the juvenile system in recent years, although boys are more likely to be detained for delinquent offenses.
- Minority youth are more likely to be detained and committed than non-Hispanic white youth.
- The average rate of rearrest for a delinquent or criminal offense for someone in the juvenile justice system is around 55%.
- Nearly 50% of the students who enter juvenile detention or correctional institutions have an academic achievement level below their age-determined grade average.
- Students who are suspended or expelled are more likely to be involved in the juvenile justice system the next year.
- 65%-70% of youth involved with the juvenile justice system have a diagnosable mental health disorder, with almost 30% of those experiencing severe mental health disorders.
Juvenile Law Attorneys Can Help
The attorneys that handle these cases are well-versed in both the law and sentencing for juvenile delinquents. Additionally, these attorneys might be able to help ensure that your child’s record remains sealed from the public record. Children have additional privileges that an adult in their situation might not, such as the right to have their parents present during police questioning and the right to confidentiality from the public. These attorneys can also be appointed to defend the interests of a minor child amidst contentious divorce proceedings of the parents.
Due to the separation of the juvenile justice system from that of the civil and criminal court system utilized for adults, it’s imperative to reach out to a juvenile law attorney to learn how the process works and what kind of defense is available for your child. While the goal of the judges handling these cases is to make whatever decision is best for the child, a juvenile can benefit greatly from proper representation by someone who knows the system as well as what kind of sentencing is available.
To learn more about the juvenile justice system or for help with a juvenile defense, seek legal counsel.