Teenagers sometimes do foolish things without considering the potential consequences. When these acts lead to criminal charges, they can jeopardize the future of those just starting out in life.
At the Law Office of Donald M. Tegeler, Jr., we reassure parents that a criminal charge, even a serious one, need not ruin the life of a child or harm his or her career prospects. We represent juveniles who are accused of misdemeanor charges such as possession of drugs or alcohol, and more serious felony charges such as assault and theft. Even when the guilt of the child is not contested, we can often obtain a mitigated result, such as a deferred judgment or alternative sentencing program which can keep the child's record clear.
Call our office for a confidential discussion of your child's legal problem with an experienced juvenile crimes lawyer.
Topics of a general nature concerning juvenile law are discussed below.
For a consultation with a juvenile law attorney at the Law Office of Donald M. Tegeler, Jr., call 630-208-8200 or contact us online.
Juvenile Matters - An Overview
Juvenile law deals with crimes committed by children. The maximum age for a juvenile offender varies from state to state, but is most commonly seventeen. By federal law, a juvenile is a person under the age of eighteen when he or she violates the law he or she is charged with. Governmental bodies, including the federal government, states and cities, prosecute various crimes committed by children, from traffic violations to felonies like rape and murder.
If your child has been charged with a crime, it is essential that you seek legal counsel from an experienced juvenile defense attorney at once so that you can preserve his or her rights and future.
Children involved in juvenile court matters have many of the same rights their parents would have if they were accused of a crime. These rights include the right to remain silent, the right to cross-examine witnesses against them and the right to be represented by an attorney. Additionally, in most states, juvenile court records are not open to the public, but are sealed, so that no one will be able to access a juvenile record. A juvenile defense attorney can explain and clarify your local practices and take some of the mystery out of a frightening situation.
Juvenile Court Philosophy
When an adult is charged with a crime, he or she is brought into court in order to determine first, if he or she committed a crime, and second, the appropriate punishment. Juvenile court has a somewhat different emphasis.
The purpose of juvenile court is not to punish young offenders, but to reform them. If a juvenile is found to have committed a crime, he or she is not "convicted," but "adjudicated." If a juvenile is incarcerated for his or her actions, he or she will not necessarily serve the same amount of jail time as an adult convicted of the same offense. Most states require juvenile offenders to be released from custody when they become adults. A juvenile adjudication will generally not count as a conviction of a crime, for future job applications.
In recent years, many states have made the emphasis of juvenile court more like that of adult court, and focus on the punishment of young offenders. More juveniles are being tried in adult courts. An experienced defense attorney can explain how your child's case may be handled in your state.
Juvenile Defense Procedure
All lawyers involved in the juvenile justice process, whether they are prosecuting or defending, must adhere to a complex set of rules of procedure to ensure a fair trial. Although juvenile court is often less formal than adult court, the procedures are still complicated. Due to this complicated procedure, it is important to have a lawyer experienced in juvenile law to navigate the intricacies of the juvenile justice system on behalf of the accused. Defense lawyers should become involved in the matter as early as possible, ideally before a child is questioned by the police.
The police are obligated to inform possible defendants of their right to counsel and the right to have counsel appointed by the court if they cannot afford one with their own resources. Most people have heard these warnings, "Miranda" warnings, in television police shows and crime dramas.
If a juvenile is found to be guilty of a crime, he or she may receive probation, have a fine imposed, perform community service, make restitution or pay back the losses caused by the criminal acts, or be sentenced to serve time in a juvenile correctional facility. An experienced juvenile defense attorney may work with the prosecutor to negotiate a deal that provides for the least severe punishment or, if a deal is not possible, the defense lawyer can zealously represent the defendant in court.
Being accused of a crime is a frightening and stressful event. Even in minor cases, you should secure skilled and knowledgeable counsel who can help streamline the juvenile justice process, provide zealous representation and help minimize the impact on your child's life.
If your child has been charged with committing a crime, do not delay in contacting an experienced juvenile defense attorney.
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