Crimes committed by children are very common. Any child who has not yet reached his or her 18th birthday is considered a minor or underage. In some cases a child may be prosecuted as an adult. If this is the case, you will be told. Even crimes committed by juveniles need to be taken seriously. Almost any crime that can be committed by an adult may also be committed by someone who is underage. The first thing to do is to seek help from an experienced attorney. Some crimes are more serious than others and of course, the more serious the crime, the more severe the punishment. A lawyer will be able to discuss the particular offense that was committed and help determine the best way to proceed.

What Should I Expect If My Child is Arrested?

Many times a child will be allowed to be remanded to his or her parents. This is often true of theft crimes such as shoplifting. Shoplifting is one of the most common crimes committed by those who are underage. If your child was stopped for shoplifting the store may decide to press charges. In this case, the police will be called and the legal process begins. The police and store may determine how to proceed with the case. Some of the criteria that will determine how to proceed may include such things as the age of your child, the severity of the crime, and whether your child has had any previous legal problems. For the least severe crimes, such as shoplifting, the police may allow you to immediately take your child home after being processed. Typically, a court date will be set, which you will need to attend with your minor child.

Do I Need an Attorney for my Underage Child?

Some parents think that they will be able to assist their child in court and therefore don’t see a need to hire a lawyer. This can be a big mistake. An experienced attorney will help to resolve the issues in the best possible way. The most important part of the case is to try to keep the crime off of your child’s record once they reach majority. This is essential because a criminal record can negatively impact the ability to get into the college of their choice and to get a job in the future. It is worthwhile to hire an attorney to represent your child in the legal matter in order to get the best possible outcome. Your lawyer will also help you navigate the complex legal system and help you understand the process.

What will Happen Next?

In some cases, the police will work to resolve the situation without your child having to go to court. In this situation the police will work out a resolution that may include community service time. Once the juvenile has successfully completed the work the matter is considered resolved and the actions against your child will end. If the crime is more serious, your child will need to go to court. Your attorney will represent your child in court and will work to get the best result possible. In many cases, a first offense may result in a mild sentence that may include fines, probation, and community service. Probation means that your child will need to report periodically to a probation officer to make sure that he or she remains out of trouble. Additional criminal offenses while on probation may bring more severe penalties. Florida operates three maximum-risk juvenile correctional facilities where boys and girls may stay for 18 months or more.

In all cases, the best possible result will be obtained with the assistance of an experienced attorney. The goal should be to try to get the criminal action resolved without a permanent criminal record. It is important for parents to hire an attorney with the background to handle the case.