Protecting Your Child's Future In Juvenile Crime Charges

Approximately 80% of juvenile court referrals involve the police. The remaining referrals are by concerned parents, school authorities, other professionals, or private citizens. Only about 50% of juvenile courts referrals receive formal intervention. The rest are dismissed for lack of evidence or handled informally, which is a common approach for first time offenders who commit nonviolent, non-serious crimes. In such cases, the youth is released into parental custody, and may be required to participate in counseling or informal meetings with a probation officer who may be used to monitor and control a child's behavior.

Formal interventions occur when a delinquency petition has been filed and the youth has been adjudicated (there was evidence to support the allegations of the petition). Formal interventions usually require the assignment of a probation officer who meets regularly with the youth, and other forms of specialized treatment are ordered, including institutional placements. Only about five percent of all juvenile court referrals result in institutionalization.

Juvenile court sometimes seems very informal, but the consequences of adjudication in juvenile court can be serious. Certain cases carry mandatory driver's license suspensions, fines, and very expensive treatment programs which must be paid for (in part or in whole) by the parent. In some of the more serious cases, jurisdiction in juvenile court can result in commitment/incarceration of the juvenile well into adulthood. In cases of alleged sexual abuse, adjudication in juvenile court can result in lifetime registration as a sex offender

What are the legal rights of adjudicated youth?

•· Youth have a right to know what they have been accused of;

•· Have a right to legal representation;

•· To questions witnesses;

•· Are guaranteed protection against self-incrimination;

•· Access to the transcript of the court proceedings; and

•· Have the right to appeal the conviction.

Common Juvenile Delinquency Warning Signs

•· The child was a victim of brain injury;

•· The child has a learning disability and is not receiving appropriate support;

•· The child has a severe emotional disturbance and is not receiving appropriate services to manage his/her disability;

•· The child is/has been abused by a family member;

•· The child is a witness to physical or verbal abuse between family members;

•· The child is living with family members who abuse drugs or alcohol;

•· The child lacks discipline;

•· The child has not formed meaningful relationships with family members;

•· The child is experiencing parental separation or divorce;

•· The child is living in poor neighborhood conditions;

•· The child is performing poorly in school;

•· The child identifies with peers who are a bad influence;

•· The child lacks interests, hobbies, and is not socially involved;

•· The child frequently moves.

Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Do not leave your child's future to chance.