Parents whose children have been charged with a juvenile crime are often angry. They know that their children will not be well-served by serious punishment. An attorney working in juvenile crime defense can inform them about the relevant laws and work with them to get the best possible outcome.

Selecting a juvenile crimes attorney should be based mostly on the attorney's experience in juvenile defense. However, your ability to work effectively and comfortable with the attorney is also an important factor.

The Law and Juvenile Crimes

You can retain a juvenile crimes lawyer at any stage of a case, whether it is during the investigation or the day before arraignment. You also have the legal right to represent yourself, but it is often a bad idea, the laws can be complicated and even counter-intuitive. You need an attorney with specific experience with the unique aspects of juvenile charges.

Juvenile courts have their own special rules and procedures, and the process is very different than that of criminal court for adults. Juvenile crime is called an act of "delinquency" and requires juvenile court intervention to correct the delinquency. Delinquency covers every kind of offense prosecuted in juvenile courts, including:

  • Status offenses such as run away and curfew violations
  • Underage drinking
  • Drug charges
  • Shoplifting, larceny, theft

Juvenile courts handle cases involving children. However, in cases of violent felonies such as murder, the state may choose to try the juvenile as an adult. In many cases the decision to try the juvenile as an adult will depend on the judge's discretion. However, some crimes can immediately be charged in adult court. You need professional help with serious crimes.

Juvenile Rights

Juvenile rights are different from adult rights. For example, juveniles do not have a right to a jury trial. Notwithstanding, juveniles are entitled to have full notice of all charges against them, the right to a fair hearing, and the right to confront hostile witnesses.

Rehabilitation over Punishment

Since a judge, not a jury, will determine the fate of a juvenile defendant, it is common for the court to favor "rehabilitation" over "punishment." The rehabilitation offered, ranges from incarceration to participation in community service activities.

In many juvenile cases, it is possible to obtain an informal adjustment for the juvenile. An informal adjustment is essentially a probationary period, in which the charges are suspended as the child does volunteer work. If the child manages to stay out of trouble during that period, the case will be dismissed and the child will have no record.

Parents' Liability for Their Children's Acts

Normally, parents aren't financially liable for the negligent or clumsy acts of their children. Courts seem to recognize that parents cannot prevent most accidents and mishaps of childhood. However, parents may be liable under Idaho law for certain acts of their children. You will need competent legal help in cases of this nature.