Special Concerns Regarding Juvenile Delinquency
Juvenile delinquency is a separate specialty of some criminal defense attorneys; if you or your child is facing criminal charges as a juvenile, it is imperative that you speak with an attorney who has experience handling juvenile delinquency cases.
What are juvenile crimes?
Juvenile crimes are illegal acts committed by people under the age of 18; some of those crimes would be crimes for anyone if committed, e.g., murder, rape, and larceny.
On the other hand, other offenses are against the law only because the person committing the acts is under the age of 18. These are called “status offenses” and include the following infractions:
- Curfew violation
- Driving without a driver’s license (as a person under the legal driving age)
- Running away from home
- Underage drinking
Normally status offenses are not handled in the juvenile justice court system but by social services, so you may not need the assistance of a criminal defense attorney; however, if you or your child is charged with a crime, whether it’s a misdemeanor or a felony, you absolutely should contact an attorney for advice on your particular situation.
How is the juvenile justice system different from the ordinary criminal justice system?
Juveniles charged with crimes generally have more rights than an adult defendant, including the fact that information contained in court records is to remain sealed; moreover, those records are usually expunged when the juvenile reaches the age of majority, thereby clearing his or her record.
What are possible sentences for juvenile delinquency adjudications?
Possible sentences of adjudications of juvenile delinquency vary greatly by state and by crime. For status offenses, juvenile offenders may be looking at something as minor as a suspended driver’s license or monetary restitution.
When crimes are involved however, the possibility that a juvenile delinquent could be placed in a juvenile detention center — even until he or she reaches the age of majority — is very real. Be sure you know all of your or your child’s rights regarding the entire juvenile delinquency process; your best bet is to speak with a local criminal defense attorney with experience in the juvenile justice system.