A child is considered a juvenile at the age of 10 to 16 years. Once a child reaches 17, he is considered an adult. The criminal laws that are applicable for an adult are as equally applicable for a juvenile. The process and the punishment, however, is where the difference lies. The juvenile justice system’s goal is to rehabilitate the child; therefore, a child who is charged with a criminal offense may have many favorable options as opposed to an adult faced with a criminal offense charge. It is important that the juvenile’s attorney is familiar with all the options available when negotiating the case with the Prosecutor.
Juveniles are not afforded bail as opposed to adults. Therefore, if a child is arrested, he may be held in the Juvenile Detention Center pending a court date. A child may have an attorney represent them at every stage beginning with arguing the release from detention. In order for a judge to release a juvenile from detention, he will look to see that various elements have been met. It is necessary that an attorney visit with the parents and inform them on the elements the judge will want to see.
It is a misconception that juvenile records are always sealed automatically. This law does allow for this, but it is not automatic. To have your juvenile record sealed an attorney must petition the court to seal the record at the appropriate time. This time period varies depending on the charge, the courts actions and the overall outcome of the case. Therefore, it is important that the juvenile attorney fully understand the process when negotiating the criminal case so as to allow the juvenile to get their record sealed as soon as possible.