Virginia Juvenile Crimes Defense Attorney
When a juvenile is charged with a crime, it is a stressful time for both parent and child alike. The juvenile is worried about their freedom and worried about the practical consequences; the parent is worried about how this will impact the child’s future and worried about getting their kid back on track.
The law treats juvenile crimes differently than adults so it is important to find an attorney with the experience handling these unique cases. Instead of being tried by a jury, a juvenile will be tried in front of a judge for an adjudicatory hearing. If he is or she is placed on probation both the juvenile and the parents will be required to comply with the probation officer.
While a judge wants to punish the child for their debt to society, they also want to fix any problems in the child’s life to help him or her become a productive adult. A juvenile attorney should work to identify these issues and work with a judge to create a plan that helps the child. This way, the court can fully address any issues in the family to help everyone grow and help everyone focus on the child’s well being.
While most juveniles between the ages of 7 and 15 years old are tried in juvenile courts, it is possible that they could have their case moved to the circuit court where they would be tried as an adult. This can happen with any felony but is most common with violent felonies. The juvenile judge has the discretion to move the case or keep it within the juvenile division. It is important to find a lawyer who will work with the judge to keep the case in the juvenile court where a child can get the help they need instead of being punished with adults.
Police officers have the choice to refer or not refer a juvenile suspect to court. They can:
- Detain the minor and warn about the consequences of committing the crime before releasing the minor.
- Detain and hold the minor until the minor’s parents or guardians arrive and then release the minor.
- Take the minor into custody and refer the minor to a juvenile court officer.
If the case is referred to juvenile court, a juvenile court officer can review the case and make a decision whether to dismiss the case, handle it off the record or file formal charges.
Members of the public are generally excluded from juvenile hearings. Court and law enforcement records will not be open for inspection or their contents disclosed under normal circumstances. Juvenile records are expunged on January 2 of each year when a child has turned 19 and at least 5 years have elapsed since the date of their last hearing. If, however, the child was found guilty of a delinquent act that would have been a felony had they been an adult, that incident will remain on their record.
Many factors are taken into consideration when reviewing these cases including: The severity of the crime; the defendant’s attitude and age; any past records; and evidence against the defendant.
As an experienced juvenile crimes law firm in Virginia, we have 32 years of experience practicing such cases. Our legal expertise spans across the Arlington, Fairfax, Alexandria, and Northern Virginia regions.