Facing criminal charges is a serious threat to a person’s future, regardless of the defendant’s age. Even if the individual charged with a crime is a minor, it does not take away from the grave nature of what he or she is up against. If your child is facing criminal charges of any kind, it may be in your interests to learn as much as possible about what to expect from the juvenile justice system.
Conviction of juvenile crimes can result in serious penalties. As a parent, you want to do everything possible to shield your child’s interests and protect future opportunities. This is why it is crucial to act quickly to secure defense help and develop a strategy to fight back on behalf of your child. A juvenile defendant has the right to a defense, and you can start this process from the moment you learn of an investigation or as soon as possible after arrest.
Minors ages seven and up could face juvenile criminal charges, but parents may be liable for the actions of their children if they are under the age of seven. Depending on the nature of the alleged crime, the prosecution may attempt to charge an older minor as an adult. When handling criminal matters that involve a minor, police may simply decide to detain a minor and warn of potential consequences before releasing him or her.
It is also possible an officer could detain a minor and only release him or her to parents. When the offense is more serious, the officer may detain the minor and then refer the matter to a juvenile case officer. If referred to juvenile court, the prosecutor or juvenile court officer will make a decision whether to handle the matter out of court or prosecute.
Even if the prosecution decides not to pursue charges, the minor will likely still have to appear before a Florida juvenile judge. If there are formal charges, a juvenile case will proceed in the same manner as a case involving an adult defendant. This includes an arraignment, hearing, entering a plea, a trial and sentencing.
Because of what is potentially at stake for your child, you would be wise to secure experienced defense counsel for him or her as soon as possible. Even if the matter does not go to court, it is in the interests of a juvenile defendant to have a legal ally to advocate for his or her rights at every step of the process.