The Juvenile Justice system is set up to be a rehabilitative system, which is different than the adult system, which is set up to be punitive. However, children as young as eight years old can still be arrested, charged and incarcerated just as an adult can. In fact some juveniles, depending on the crime that is alleged and their age, can transferred from juvenile court and tried as an adult. Further, the punishment that juveniles can receive is similar to adults and in some cases can be even more harsh. For example, youth still receive similar punishments such as incarceration, monetary fines and fees, drug and alcohol testing/counseling, mental health counseling, classes, community service and lengthy probation.
Children can also receive many benefits to having their case handled in juvenile court. There are alternatives resolutions to cases that may be available in lieu of a guilty plea or conviction. And, juvenile records are often being sealed upon completion of probation or by a petition to the court.
The area of juvenile law is changing rapidly. The more scientists learn about adolescent brains, the science generally becomes incorporated into laws over time. The Supreme Court of the United States has reviewed and decided many cases over the last several years that address brain science and adolescent development. Our state legislature is frequently changing/rewriting the statutes as they relate to juveniles. With respects to juveniles and the juvenile justice system, this is a rapidly changing area of law and a very specialized area of law. You need an attorney with significant juvenile law experience, not just not just criminal law experience. Most criminal defense attorneys are not aware of all of the different ways youth can be represented and protected throughout their case.
It is often said that “kids make mistakes”. Yet, those mistakes still can have significant consequences on their lives outside of a court room. A criminal conviction in juvenile court can effect housing opportunities, gun rights, college admission, military admission, drivers license and and their financial credit. A criminal conviction for a young person can change the trajectory of the their entire life. It is important to have an attorney who really knows and understands all of the nuances of the juvenile court and how it works.
Our attorneys have litigation experience in all areas, including very significant and lengthy practice in juvenile court. We have helped thousands of kids move past criminal charges, and forward to promising futures. DiNenna & Associates, we can help you in juvenile court with the following type of cases