Receiving a phone call informing you that your child is in police custody is generally life-changing. Although your first impulse might be to let your child suffer the consequences of the bad behavior that led to the arrest and detention, you need to ignore that reaction. There are serious implications for a juvenile arrest, detention and eventually trial. You need to retain a Juvenile Lawyer who can help you and your child find your way through the juvenile justice maze.
There are immediate consequences to your child’s behavior as well as an impact on his or her future. You want to do everything you can to protect your child’s constitutional rights including the due process right to a fair proceeding. Although juvenile court records are expected to not have an impact on the minor’s adult life, there may still be an impact on a minor’s future. If the case is not handled correctly, when your child reaches adulthood, he or she may discover there has been an impact on their ability to go to college, get a job, rent or buy a home and other serious consequences.
The Juvenile Justice System: An Overview
Although the juvenile justice system has some similarities to the adult system, there are important differences. This is just a brief overview of how the process works:
- A person who commits a crime before reaching the age of 18 is considered a minor and will be charged and tried in juvenile court.
- The case of a minor who is suspected of committing a serious offense may be transferred to adult court. The prosecutor makes this decision when filing the petition that begins the criminal case. Minors who have their cases sent to adult court are subject to the same penalties as are adults!
- Juveniles are not entitled to a jury trial. A juvenile court judge determines whether a minor is guilty or not. The prosecutor still must prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.
- If the judge decides your child is guilty of the charged offense, a disposition hearing will be held. This is equivalent to an adult sentencing hearing. The Department of Juvenile Justice will make a recommendation to the Court regarding the sentence that should be imposed on your child.
Depending on the severity of the offense, your child may be facing probation or juvenile prison.If you are the parent of a minor charged with a criminal offense, you can trust that the Law Office of James Davis has the experience and commitment you and your child need to guide you through the juvenile justice system. Contact us as soon as possible after your child is arrested.