Groups » What to Expect If Your Child Is Facing Juvenile Criminal Charges

Juvenile crime is one of the most serious challenges that cripples society at large. Children and youth often commit offenses and crimes under the influence of one or more social, economic, or psychological reasons. In the United States, law-enforcement agencies, schools, local communities, and parents of adolescents work together to help the juvenile justice system monitor criminal acts by minors.

The home environment plays a key role in a child’s upbringing. If a child observes violent and disturbing behavior among his/her family members, he/she is likely to imbibe that, which could lead to offensive behavior. However, home environment is not the only factor that drives a child to commit a crime. The company that he/she keeps (i.e., his/her study group, friends, or even the neighborhood) can instill violence in his/her nature and influence him/her to commit crime(s).

According to a study published by the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, unlawful behavior by adolescents can be linked to unresolved instincts and emotional drives in their psyche. Even personality disorder theories can be associated with this behavior. The study highlights that adolescents may reflect criminal tendencies because of weak superego (superego lacuna) and the inability to control primitive and strong early childhood urges.

Criminal offenders between the age of 10 and 18 fall under the juvenile justice system. The upper limit of the age eligibility, however, is determined by the juvenile laws of the state. A lot of the crimes committed by children or young adults may be the same, but juvenile offenders are subject to different laws and procedures than adults charged with the same crime.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, law enforcement agencies in the country arrested approximately 1 million law-breaking citizens under the age of 18 in the year 2014.

The following points can help you become aware of the intricacies of a juvenile criminal case if your child or young family member is facing juvenile criminal charges.

1) Stay Calm When Dealing with Police

Juvenile crimes are not limited to activities like vandalism and shoplifting, but include more serious crimes such as sexual assault, drug sales, and even murder. If your child has been accused of a criminal offense, then he/she can be arrested only if the police have an arrest warrant to do so.

One of the most common mistakes made by minors is that they begin talking about the case to the police even before getting legal representation. You and your child can always decline from making an oral/written statement to law enforcement authorities, as they can use anything said by you against you in court.

Every juvenile case reported to the police need not see the courtroom for ruling. A police officer may deal with the situation in several ways. The minor may just be detained after being issued a stringent warning and then released under the custody of a parent or guardian. However, if the police officer considers the offense to be serious, then he or she can place the juvenile in custody and refer the case to juvenile court.

2) Seek Legal Representation

Juvenile cases fall under a different set of laws and involve distinct proceedings than the adult’s judicial system. There is a huge risk of damage to the minor’s future if the case is not handled with utmost care and attention.

A juvenile-crimes lawyer can help expunge your child’s delinquency record as well. Before you let the law enforcement gather evidence to charge your child, you need to seek legal aid to handle the case.

In the words of a prominent Las Vegas Juvenile Crimes Lawyer, “An attorney will be committed to helping minors navigate the legal system after an alleged crime and getting the best possible outcome regarding the situation, whether it is a dismissal of charges, reduced charges, a reduced sentence, or a not guilty verdict.”

3) Avoid Misrepresentation of Credentials

It is an offense for a juvenile or his/her attorney to knowingly and willfully mislead the court about his/her age or other credentials. You need to refrain from submitting any forged documents or false information to the court.

Doing so may not directly affect the legal proceedings, but if any contradictory evidence is obtained during the lawsuit, then the information may be used against the child, who will then be subject to rules of evidence applicable in adult proceedings.

4) Prepare for Juvenile Court Hearing

Once the criminal case has been referred to the juvenile court, a prosecutor or an intake office will handle the proceedings that follow. Based on the evidence and documentation presented by the police officer, the prosecutor/intake officer may decide to dismiss the case, informally handle the matter, or press formal charges on the minor.

This decision primarily depends on the severity of the offense, the minor’s age, past criminal record, the strength of the argument, and the case evidence.

In case you file for a petition in the juvenile court, then your child will be arraigned in front of a juvenile court judge. Your attorney will brief you about the defense strategy that he/she is going to use in the court.

Being the parent/legal guardian of the minor, you may be called to testify. Rehearse with your attorney for any tactful questions that may be raised by the opposing counsel in court.

5) Appeals and Post-Disposition Changes

After the prosecutor and your attorney have presented their arguments, the judge will announce a ruling in the court. If you are not satisfied with the judgment, you may re-appeal to a higher court to overturn the juvenile court’s disposition order after a delinquency finding. Your attorney needs to be prepared with additional arguments to support the defense strategy, in case of a re-appeal.

Juvenile criminal cases represent the harsh reality of our society. Along with stricter law enforcement, the country needs to promote a harmonious environment in society to reduce the crime rate among children. Young adults are the torchbearers of the future and need to be nurtured in the right manner to become good leaders. This post will help you know how to protect the future of your child/ family member in case they stray from lawful conduct.

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