When law enforcement officials catch your child breaking the law, it's hard not to panic. You may worry about their permanent record being tarnished or fear detention and possible incarceration. You may feel a combination of shame and concern that makes it hard to focus.
The best thing you can do to help your child and find peace of mind is seek immediate legal counsel. Morgan & Morgan has you covered. Our team of experienced juvenile law attorneys knows the system and will treat you and your family with the compassion you deserve as you navigate these uncharted waters.
The Juvenile Court System
The juvenile court does not work the same way as the adult court system. Its primary goal is rehabilitation, not incarceration.
Children between the ages of 7 and 17 are accused of committing delinquent acts, which are treated as civil matters rather than crimes under the state's penal code. Instead of sentencing the juvenile offender to prison time, the judge typically orders a course of action that will help the child and their family to avoid further problems with the law.
For instance, if a minor abuses alcohol, the court may require them to get alcohol counseling rather than punishing them for underage drinking. If a teenager steals or vandalizes property, the court may examine the minor's history and order family counseling to get at the root of why the child is acting out.
Children under the age of 7 are typically considered too young to form a "guilty mind" — i.e., to know the difference between right and wrong. If a young child causes monetary damages, their parents may be ordered to pay compensation.
Typical Juvenile Cases
Most cases that come through the juvenile court are classified as delinquency. Offenses against persons, property, drug laws, and public order are the most common.
The juvenile court also hears two other types of cases:
- Juvenile dependency cases involve minors who have allegedly been neglected or abused by their parents or guardians. The court is tasked with deciding whether these children should be removed from the environment and placed in foster care.
- Status offenses are violations that apply only to minors, such as truancy and running away from home.
When a juvenile offender commits a violent crime such as rape or murder, they may be ordered to be tried as an adult, meaning they must face the same criminal process as an adult who commits the same crime.
Morgan & Morgan Can Help
Has your child been arrested? Are you confused about how best to help them navigate this complex process? Morgan & Morgan understands how stressful this situation is. Our experienced juvenile law attorneys can help you understand the process and explain what your options are. Contact Morgan & Morgan by filling out a no-cost case evaluation today.