Juvenile crimes are essentially crimes committed by a person under the age of 18. If your child has been accused of committing a juvenile crime and is facing a trial, here are some things to expect.
Case Referred to Juvenile Court
After a police officer refers a case to juvenile court, the prosecutor or juvenile court intake officer takes over. The prosecutor or juvenile intake officer is able to dismiss the case, handle the matter informally, or “petition the case,” which means filing formal charges. In determining which route to take, the prosecutor or intake officer will consider:
- the severity of the offense
- how old the minor is
- if the minor has a previous record
- how strong the evidence against the minor is
- the minor’s gender (boys are more likely to be charged than girls)
- the minors’s social history, and
- if the minor’s parents are able to control the minor’s behavior. If abuse or neglect is suspected, the juvenile court judge may choose to initiate proceedings to remove the minor from parental or guardian custody.
On average, roughly 20% of the cases that are referred to a juvenile court intake officer or prosecutor are dismissed. Twenty-five percent are handled informally. The remaining cases go through formal proceedings.
What is an Informal Proceeding?
During an informal proceeding the minor appears before a probation officer or judge. No formal charge is given to the minor. These are the types of penalties a minor faces during informal proceedings:
- a stern lecture
- required attendance at counseling
- attendance at after-school classes
- repayment to the victim for damages
- payment of a fine
- performing community service work, or
- entering probation.
Working with a Juvenile Crime Defense Lawyer
If your child has been charged with committing a juvenile crime you’ll want to immediately contact a juvenile defense attorney that can help you build your case. Conviction can carry serious penalties, as well as create a record that will follow a child for the rest of his or her life.
Source: Nolo, Juvenile Delinquency: What Happens in a Juvenile Case? 2014
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