Crimes committed by those who are under-aged not only affect the child but also their parents or guardians. Juvenile issues are much different from other criminal matters. In general, children are treated differently than adults, and their punishment for criminal acts are no exception.
Juvenile crimes are handled in family court while adult crimes are heard in the criminal division. As an adult, you don’t think about the possibility of facing a court hearing with your child for a crime he or she committed. The entire process can be incredibly overwhelming, starting with that first phone call saying that your child has been arrested.
The following are frequently asked questions to help ease some of that overwhelming feeling. But it is imperative that you seek an attorney to represent your child as soon as possible. Without an attorney, either by your own means or if financially unable to, you may apply to the court for a public defender; they will not begin proceedings on the criminal matter.
- Will my child go to jail?
This is a very often heard question, and the answer is generally no, the court will not send your child to a jail with adults. However, the court may send your child to a juvenile detention facility, but this is not jail.
- Will my child have a record?
If there is a guilty plea or if a guilty verdict is declared, then there will be a record. A juvenile record is mostly sealed and kept private and confidential, with the exception of information disclosed to the victims as well as the child’s school. It’s also important to know that if the charge is for aggravated assault, property damage of more than $500, or if your child is identified as an adjudicated delinquent, information about the crime can be disclosed to the public.
- What types of cases usually go to court?
Any cases involving criminal matters in which the person who allegedly committed the offense was under the age of 18 at the time of the incident. These offenses may stem from shoplifting, criminal mischief, assault, or even murder. However, there are certain exceptions, for instance, a juvenile in the later teenage years charged with murder can potentially be tried as an adult.
- What is the process like once my child is charged?
Generally, after being charged, there will be a hearing date with a judge in the Family Division of the county in which the child resides. Before the date of the hearing, you must find an attorney to represent your child. If you cannot afford one, you can apply to have a public defender to represent your child. The process is not so much about punishment, but about rehabilitation. The main goal in the Family Division is to provide assistance and help for the child instead of giving them a lengthy punishment. This is because, as children, they have the opportunity to be rehabilitated and potentially become a contributing member of society. It is important to comply with everything that is asked of you and to keep in mind that even though you are the parent, you are not generally liable for the criminal acts of your child or for any damage they may have caused while committing such acts.
As mentioned, you need to have an attorney to represent your child or else the court will not begin proceedings, which could cause unnecessary delays and added levels of anxiety. David C. Barry is an experienced defense attorney and can represent your child. David is committed to assisting your child fight for the rehabilitation they need without any adverse effects from a criminal charge. Call today at (732) 238-8686.