What Will Happen if My Child is Arrested for a Crime?

When someone is arrested for a crime it can be a difficult experience but it is even more terrifying when the person arrested is a juvenile. As a parent or guardian, you are certainly concerned about not only what will happen in the immediate time-frame but also how the arrest will impact the child’s future. There are many variables that will impact what occurs including the severity of the crime, the age of the child, and the past school and criminal records of the juvenile. The first thing to do, no matter the charges, is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your attorney will immediately assist and guide you through the legal process. You and your attorney should be present during any questioning that takes place by law enforcement.

Juvenile Rights

Juveniles are entitled to the same rights as adults. This means that the police must read the suspect his rights prior to being arrested. A juvenile has the right to an attorney. It is important to note that there is a difference between someone being detained and someone who is under arrest. Many times, when the violation is a minor one, the police officer may detain the juvenile and provide a warning against future violations. In this situation, the juvenile would usually be held and released only to a parent or legal guardian. If the crime is more serious, or if the child is older, the police may charge the child with a crime and place him under arrest. Juveniles may be prosecuted as a juvenile or as an adult. The difference between the two is huge.

Juvenile Court

A child may be processed through the juvenile court system as a juvenile delinquent. This is often the best course of action and should be pursued whenever possible as an alternative to adult prosecution. Children are considered juveniles until they reach the age of 18. Children between the ages of 14 and 17 may be prosecuted as adults. This means that they will be subject to the same punishments as adults. If prosecuted as a juvenile, the potential punishments are less severe in nature. An experienced attorney will work to have the crime processed in juvenile court whenever possible. Once referred to the juvenile court system there are several things that could happen.

What Happens in Juvenile Court

Juvenile court works in a very similar way that adult court does. An intake officer, prosecutor, or probation officer, will be assigned to handle the case. The officer will review the case and decide how it should proceed. There are several things that could happen:

  • The case could be dismissed
  • The case could be handled informally
  • Charges could be filed (formally)

It is beneficial to have the case either dismissed or handled informally. Obviously, a dismissal is the preferred way to handle the case; however, this isn’t always possible. If the case is handled informally it usually means that the juvenile will be placed on probation. The juvenile must then follow the stipulations of the probation for a specified period of time (often a year). After the juvenile successfully completes the probation period with no violation, the matter will be concluded with no further consequences. A knowledgeable defense lawyer will work to get the best possible results in order to protect the juvenile from serious current and future consequences.