If an individual is accused of a crime when they are under the age of 18, they will most likely be tried as a minor. They will be subject to different rules and procedures than an adult offender, but accusations are still just as serious. If your child or someone you care about has been detained for a crime, it is in your best interests to know everything possible about the charges, penalties, and legal procedures you will be facing. It is also in your best interests to have a legal representative on your side who has experience in juvenile crime cases. You do not want to put their future in jeopardy merely because they did not have the help they needed.
The juvenile justice system varies in several aspects than the normal court system. It usually tries minors over the age of 7 and under the age of 18. A child who is seven years old or younger cannot usually be tried at all, though their parents may be held responsible for what happened. Also, even if a child is under 18, prosecutors are increasingly trying to get them tried as an adult so that their penalties will be even more severe. If a minor has committed a crime like DUI, drug possession, or a sex crime, they can be detained by law enforcement and warned about the seriousness of the crime and where it can lead. They can detain them until their parents or guardians come to collect them, or they can choose to hand them over to a juvenile court officer. Whatever the case, it is important to avoid formal charges in these instances. A conviction could be on their permanent record and affect their chances of getting a job or being accepted in a university.
Whether or not the minor is formally charged will depend on several factors. First is how severe the crime is. For example, marijuana possession and murder are two very different crimes and this will be reflected in the penalties. Second, officers will look at the attitude of the offender. If they are truly sorry for what they have done and have never been in trouble with the law before, they are less likely to receive formal charges. Also, if the evidence of wrongdoing is slim and the minor has an attorney, they might decide not to press charges. If your child has been detained and may be facing formal charges, you should retain the help of an attorney. By having an experienced professional on your side, it is less likely that formal charges will be given. They could also help protect the minor from being charged as an adult.
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Thomas A D’Amore