Children are known to be carefree and mischievous; sometimes this behavior can land them on the wrong side of the law. If your child has been arrested for a criminal act, you may not be sure of your next steps. You may be wondering if the court will try your child as an adult or sentence them to adult prison. We answer these questions and more below.
A separate yet parallel justice system is in place for minors charged with, or convicted of, criminal offenses. The juvenile justice system differs from the adult justice system in that it places a greater emphasis on crime prevention and rehabilitation rather than punishment.
Juvenile Justice System
The goal of the juvenile justice system is to rehabilitate juvenile offenders and not remove them from society. For this reason, juvenile criminal proceedings are usually less formal than adult proceedings. Juvenile offenders are generally referred to as respondents rather than defendants to reflect this difference.
The goal of a judge in a juvenile case is to show the respondent the error of their ways and ensure they don't break the law again. Because of this, punishments for respondents feature a wide range of incarceration alternatives.
Examples of juvenile punishments include:
- payment of restitution for any damages to property;
- requirement to maintain school attendance;
- completion of treatment or educational programs;
- abide by a curfew; and/or
- complete some form of community service.
If a judge deems it necessary to impose a sentence of incarceration, the respondent will usually be sent to a juvenile detention facility. Juvenile detention facilities place a strong emphasis on rehabilitation. Juvenile detention officers help the respondents reflect on their actions and guide them to work on becoming a well-rounded adult.
If the crime is severe enough, the respondent will be tried as an adult and, if convicted, sent to an adult detention facility.
A serious juvenile crime would be:
- the use of deadly weapons such as firearms or knives;
- sexual offenses;
- murder or attempted murder.
Reach Out to Labovitz Law Firm
If your child was recently arrested for a juvenile crime, contact our law firm today. We have more than 16 years of legal experience and will do our best to advocate for your child.