Facing criminal charges is a stressful process for anyone, it can be even more stressful if your child is underage. Adolescence is a vulnerable age and falling for criminal activity can be caused by many factors. Fortunately, the juvenile court system is in general more lenient than the adult justice system. Its design is based on a more educational and reformatory approach. This leniency can alleviate some stress from the accused youth and their family however many important details should be kept in mind. It is also important to note that a legal guardian can act as an active advocate for the detained youth. A person can be placed in the Juvenile Court System if they are a minor, that is under the age of 18.
Details to consider about the Juvenile Court System
Four things can occur if a youth is accused of a crime by the justice system:
- If a person under the age of 18 is charged or accused of criminal activity they can have their case dismissed. This occurs at the discretion of the court, essentially handing over custody back to the person’s legal guardian.
- The court can send the youth to an informal community-based counseling system under Michigan’s Juvenile Diversion Act.
- Similarly to the community-based approach is placing the youth under court supervision (also known as the Consent Calendar).
- Lastly, the court can proceed with a trial, i.e the “Formal Calendar.”
If a trial is determined to be necessary by the court the following details are important to note. In court, the underage defendant has the right to an attorney, the right to a fair trial, the right to remain silent, and other rights which are typical of the adult justice system. Depending on the verdict of the court the defendant can be ordered to varied programs as ordered by the court. The defendant could be placed on probation, community service, or be ordered to pay restitution. More serious outcomes could be being placed in a juvenile detention center or being tried by an adult court.
It is advised to hire an experienced juvenile court attorney. An attorney with previous exposure to the juvenile court system knows the ins and outs of the system and can help in defending the youth’s rights.
Can someone underage be tried as an adult?
Although a large percentage of youth crimes are kept within the system some serious crimes can be tried in the adult system. Anyone above the age of 14 can be tried as an adult if they committed a felony. Various factors will be considered by the court before the decision is taken to try an underage person as an adult.
Consequences to consider of a juvenile court case
There are many consequences to consider when facing a difficult moment like being in the juvenile justice system. The legal guardians of a youth facing charges can sometimes be expected to share liability in the form of fines, counseling, and court-mandated programs. Furthermore, the youth can face challenges in finding employment and admission to college programs/aid.
Guidance and proper representation during a potentially turbulent period like a juvenile trial is highly recommended. Having an attorney with a background in juvenile court is something to consider thoroughly. Ashlee Duplessis has years of experience representing juvenile cases. She fights for her clients and can fight for you.