Children may end up on the wrong side of the law while growing up. Juvenile delinquency is partly attributable to immaturity and lack of life experience. Most offenses committed by juveniles are isolated incidents of youthful indiscretion. However, minors can also be charged with serious and sometimes violent offenses. Such charges should be met by the strongest legal defense possible. Though penalties may be less severe than for adults, punishment as a juvenile offender can at times be harsh.
Some acts are illegal only because of the age of the person who is accused of them. These include truancy and underage use of tobacco or alcohol. Juveniles also tend get into trouble with minor offenses such as disturbing the peace, criminal mischief (including graffiti), possession of narcotics, trespassing or loitering. Driving violations are also frequent. More serious but still fairly common offenses include theft, unlawful possession of a weapon and assault and battery.
The juvenile justice system places great emphasis on rehabilitation. The aim is to correct bad behavior early and to have youngsters properly supervised to keep them on the right path. In most cases, a juvenile offender’s sentence for an offense has no minimum or maximum time requirements. The court has discretion to impose an appropriate sentence based on the facts and circumstances. Also, there are a variety of diversionary and deferred prosecution programs available that provide alternative resolutions designed to prevent the child from having a criminal record. These programs are generally used in cases of minor offenses and violations.
When a juvenile is sentenced for more serious offenses, there are two other processes that may be used:
- Determinate sentencing — This can happen in cases of certain aggravated offenses. The penalty can be up to 40 years of incarceration. The child is held in a juvenile facility and later is transferred to an adult penitentiary to serve out the remainder of the sentence.
- Certification and transfer — Juvenile jurisdiction is waived and the minor is treated like an adult for prosecution purposes. This is usually reserved for the most serious of crimes committed by minors.
A juvenile proceeding can have significant life-long consequences for an accused minor. If your child is involved in any type of criminal investigation, they need diligent representation by a qualified juvenile law attorney.
Kevin L. Collins, P.C. is a full service criminal defense law firm in San Antonio, Texas. Our team is highly experienced in representing minors involved with the justice system. Our juvenile attorney is board-certified in this area of the law. If your child is involved in a criminal investigation or criminal case, we have the knowledge, skills and experience to effectively represent him or her throughout all proceedings. Feel free to contact us online or call 210-598-8629 for an initial consultation.