Just because someone has been accused of a crime as a juvenile does not necessarily mean that he or she will be able to avoid serious consequences associated with adult crimes. Every state maintains special courts typically referred to as juvenile courts to handle minors who have been accused of violating criminal statutes. Juvenile offenders are frequently accused of committing a delinquent act.
A juvenile case usually begins when a probation officer or a prosecutor initiates a civil petition that charges the juvenile with violation of a criminal statute and requesting that the court determine that the juvenile is indeed delinquent. If a determination of delinquency is made, the offender will then come under the broad powers of the court. Not every case heard in juvenile court, however, has to do with delinquency.
Cases involving offense status and dependency may also be included in these courts. Some of the most common cases heard in juvenile courts include simple assault, disorderly conduct, theft, drug abuse and curfew violations. Only 3% of cases that are heard in juvenile court on an annual basis involve murder, robbery, rape, aggravated assault, or other violent offenses. The constitutional rights of juveniles are quite different from adults who have been accused of committing a crime. There is a broad level of discretion applied to prosecutors and take officials and the police as well as judges when it comes to handling juvenile cases.
Sometimes these cases are transferred to adult court in a procedure known as a waiver. Understanding the specific procedures associated with juvenile court and ensuring that you have someone to protect your interests is extremely important. This is why you need to hire a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney now to protect your rights and interests going forward.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney/client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.