Juvenile Criminal Defense

A juvenile offender can find out the hard way that they have fewer rights under the law than their adult counterparts if they are arrested and charged with certain crimes. A juvenile charged with criminal or civil violation of local statute will have to go before a Juvenile Court and is subject to the local juvenile laws for the jurisdiction where the alleged violation has occurred. Depending on the severity of the crime, a juvenile can be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony much in the same way as an adult but allowing for the protections extended to juveniles by law. However, in many jurisdictions, juveniles as young as 14 years of age accused of more severe crimes can be charged, tried, and punished as adults. A juvenile crime attorney can provide the proper defense and protection of the juvenile's rights.

Juvenile offenders found guilty of a criminal offense can be sentenced to probation, placed in foster care, forced to attend a special school for juvenile offenders, or confined to a juvenile detention center. Depending on the jurisdiction and the charge, these sentences can be imposed until the juvenile reaches 18, 21, or 25 years of age.

Juvenile Arrest Trends and Statistics

According to data contained in the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), white juveniles account for 67.1 percent of all juveniles arrested. Black juveniles accounted for 51.0 percent of all juveniles arrested for violent crimes, and white juveniles account for 66.3 percent of all juveniles arrested for property crimes.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) conducted a separate five-year study to chart trends in crimes by juveniles. According to that study, juvenile crime is declining and during the study period juvenile crime in general dropped by 3.1 percent.

According to the FBI's Five-Year Arrest Trends study, juvenile crime dropped except for the following crimes:

  • Robbery was up 34.4%
  • Weapons; carrying, possessing, etc. rose by 30.9%
  • Gambling climbed 19.7%
  • Murder and non-negligent manslaughter rose 17.8%
  • Prostitution and commercialized vice went up 15.7%
  • Vandalism grew by 10.4%
  • Disorderly conduct went up by 8.5%
  • Violent crime increased 7.6%
  • Curfew and loitering law violations grew 6.4%
  • Other assaults climbed by 5.0%
  • Vagrancy was up by 4.3%
  • Drug abuse violations increased by 1.2%

The main advantage that juveniles have over their adult counterparts is that if they keep a clean record after having been found guilty of a crime they can have their record sealed and a second chance to start adulthood without a criminal record. However, that privilege comes at a price. A juvenile can be ordered held by Juvenile Court even if the arresting officer did not witness the crime. Juvenile Court can also hold a juvenile offender without a preliminary hearing or the right to a trial by jury and can even deny bail for the same crime that would allow bail for an adult.

If your child or minor in your custody has been charged with a juvenile crime, you will need the expert legal counseling of a knowledgeable juvenile crime attorney immediately.

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