If you have a minor child who has been charged with a crime, then it's vital that you learn as much as possible about the legal process as it relates to juveniles. The law treats juveniles very differently from adults in most instances. Here is a look at some of the key aspects of this important issue.
Juvenile courts are different from adult courts. Every state has a separate system to deal with juveniles who commit crimes. Typically, the juvenile court system is considerably more lenient than the adult court system. The focus is generally on rehabilitation. If punishment is necessary, the least detrimental punishment is preferred.
One crucial point in criminal law relating to minors is the age at which someone is considered to be a juvenile. This varies by state, with most states having an upper limit of 17 years of age, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. A few states have an upper limit of 16.
In some circumstances, however, a minor can still be tried in an adult court rather than a juvenile court. Often, very serious felonies by a minor, such as murder or manslaughter, are dealt with by the adult courts. In some instances, depending on the type of crime, the prosecutor can choose whether to file charges in juvenile court or adult court.
For very young children, such as seven or under, the law does not consider them to have any criminal responsibility due to their extreme youth.
Juveniles have some, but not all, of the constitutional rights of adults charged with crimes. For example, they have the right to remain silent when they are questioned by the police, and they also have the right to an attorney. If they cannot afford an attorney, one must be provided by the state.
Juveniles do not have some rights that adults have in criminal cases, however. For example, they do not have the right to a trial by jury, even though this right is given to adults charged with serious crimes.
Also, they do not have the right to bail. In many cases, however, the juvenile is simply released into the custody of their parent or guardian until a court hearing.
If you have a minor child who has been charged with a crime, then you will need expert help to see you and your youngster through this difficult time. Fortunately, there is help available. Consult with experienced criminal defense attorneys in your city to learn more.