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What Happens If My Child Has To Appear in Juvenile Court?

The criminal system is divided into two parts: the juvenile system and the adult system. This differentiation is extremely important. Those under the age of 18 are not legally considered adults, and the punishments for many accused crimes hinge on the premise that the accused is over the legal age of 18. Those under 18 are seen as not fully understanding the extent of their actions, and unless a special request is enacted to try the youth as an adult, they will be facing the juvenile court system. Knowing what to expect if your child has committed a crime can help you know how to best proceed.

What should I know about juvenile court?

The juvenile court system is intended to deal with youthful offenders that have committed some sort of crime. These offenders are not said to have committed a criminal act, but rather have committed a delinquent action. Since this is not a formal criminal charge, the punishments leveled at youthful offenders are oftentimes aimed at rehabilitation instead of punishment.

According to estimates from the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, nearly half of all youthful offenders are charged with:

  • Theft
  • Simple assault
  • Curfew violations
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Drug abuse

However, more serious cases can be heard by the juvenile courts as well. If the child is tried as a youthful offender, the court can decide to handle the case any number of ways to its resolution. No matter what, juveniles are entitled to legal rights that adult offenders are not privy to, such as the inability to have their case heard by a jury.

To start a juvenile case, a civil petition that charges the juvenile with a crime will be filed with the court. The court will proceed by determining whether or not a crime has taken place and what should be enacted as a result. The effect of this civil case is wide-ranging, since it is up to the judge to determine what will best rehabilitate the child. This often ranges from establishing a curfew the child needs to follow to being placed under house arrest.

Anyone that has been accused of a crime, especially as a youthful offender, needs the help of a criminal defense attorney. Your rights are too precious to go unprotected, and children are especially in need of having their rights upheld. The St. Louis team of attorneys at Millikan Wright, LLC consists of former police officers and criminal prosecutors, meaning we know how the other side operates. Trust us with your child’s defense- call today to get started!

Categories: Criminal Defense

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