If your child is charged with a crime but is under the age of 18, he or she will likely face consequences from the juvenile justice system. State and federal laws can be very strict and limiting, and the penalties for breaking such regulations can be severe for adults and children alike. As a parent or guardian, it is important that you understand how juvenile cases are handled differently from standard criminal cases and in what way they may be similar.
The Difference in Formality: In juvenile courts, the children accused of committing offenses are not typically required to act as formally as those tried in standard courts. The court makes allowances for children and will usually be more lenient in how children may act or carry themselves.
Rehabilitation Rather Than Punishment: Whereas the purpose of the adult courts is to punish wrongdoers accordingly, the juvenile justice system seeks to rehabilitate troubled kids and teens. To this end, the court system will aim to penalize children guilty of certain offenses with community service, rehabilitation programs, counseling, or time in a correctional facility. The goal is to correct the bad behavior and prevent children from ending up in jail in the future.
The Right to an Attorney: Whether you are tried in adult court or juvenile court, your right to an attorney remains the same. Anyone tried with a crime or offense is entitled to legal representation. However, whereas adults have the right to a public trial, all juvenile court decisions are made by the judge in an adjudication hearing.
It is also important to note that, while anyone under the age of 18 can be tried in juvenile court, there is also a chance that a child may instead be tried as an adult. Typically individuals under the age of 18 are only tried by the adult justice system if their crime was violent or particularly serious, or if they are very close to the age of 18.
For a free consultation, contact the Law Office of Kevin Cahill.