When a juvenile is charged with a crime, both the child and the parents go through an enormously stressful ordeal. Some parents might feel anger toward their child, while others might want to protect them at any cost. The penalties for juvenile crime depend on the state and the severity of the action. It’s vital that your family has an experienced lawyer representing your child if they have been charged with a crime.
Many things can change depending on the circumstances. For example, different court systems might have different definitions of a juvenile. In addition, there are important differences between juvenile defense attorneys and adult ones. It can be overwhelming to know where to start when finding an attorney.
Juvenile refers to a person under age 18 in most of the US. Once a person reaches age 18, they are considered an adult. Criminal offenses cannot technically be committed by juveniles, at least as far as the law is concerned. But there might be exceptions. Being charged with a crime might have serious ramifications for a young person’s life, including making it difficult to finish school, get a job, or pursue higher education.
Finding a good attorney means that you’ll know about the options available to you. A good lawyer might also reduce the chances of the juvenile having a repeat offense. Juvenile attorneys are specifically licensed to represent juveniles in federal and state courts, as well as in other legal matters.
With juvenile law, the majority of the law is abstract. This is a sharp contrast to adult penal codes, which have very strict definitions of crimes. Since juvenile law doesn’t have a lot of specifics, it’s a difficult area to understand.
What to Look For in a Lawyer
There are some basic considerations to take into account as you try to decide on an attorney for your child:
- The attorney must have a license to practice juvenile law.
- It’s a good idea to look up whether there have ever been misconduct sanctions imposed upon them.
- It’s also a good idea to find out about the lawyer’s reputation, including whether their past clients recommend them.
If the lawyer is properly licensed, has no past sanctions, and has a good track record, they might be the right choice. You can find several lawyers that meet these qualifications and then narrow them down through a more in depth selection process.
The three most important things to consider are the lawyer’s reputation, knowledge, and experience.
Juvenile court proceedings are very different from adult ones. The laws governing juvenile crime are also much more abstract. Because of this, juvenile defense strategies are very different from adult ones. The more experience a lawyer has working in juvenile court, the better they’ll be able to handle your child’s case.
All lawyers go through law school and pass a rigorous test called a bar examination. But not every lawyer ends up with the same breadth of knowledge. A knowledgeable juvenile attorney will know things like:
- What potential consequences a person might face if convicted
- What important aspects of a local judge’s character might influence the ruling
- What strategies the prosecutors are most likely to employ
- What programs and treatments are available as an alternative to imprisonment
One of the biggest priorities of a good juvenile lawyer is making sure that the defendant is kept out of prison and has their record protected.
The lawyer’s reputation is your final consideration. An ideal choice will have past clients that have experience with similar circumstances to your child.
When you reach out to contact a potential attorney, have as many case facts available as possible. They might also need to know about any prior history the juvenile has with both good achievements and criminal history.
A person below age 18 has the right to an attorney just like an adult. The right to counsel was federally established by a Supreme Court case in 1967.
Minors don’t have the right to be tried by a jury, unlike adults. However, there are some states that have chosen to allow jury trials for minors. Most juvenile cases will be tried by a judge.
As with adult cases, the prosecutor must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the crime was committed by the juvenile. A defense attorney may be able to poke holes in their case if they are not able to prove every element of the crime.