Juvenile Defense Attorney: How to Navigate the Juvenile Justice System

Juvenile Defense Attorney offering hope

If you are the guardian, parent or loved-one of a teenager who has been arrested and charged with a crime, it can be a scary and overwhelming experience.

Juvenile arrests are an overwhelming experience especially for those who have no knowledge of the criminal justice system. It is distressing for those who haven’t experienced the differences between the adult and juvenile justice system.

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If your child is facing charges, it is helpful to know what to do to gain the best possible outcome.

What Happens To Your Child Following Arrest

The hardest thing for parents is often feeling out of control of their child’s life and enduring the fear of what will happen to your child. Many parents don’t know how to advocate for their child in this time of crisis appropriately.

First, know that when a minor is taken into custody by police, the officer must attempt to notify his or her parents or guardian immediately. This may happen either at the police station, where your child may be taken to complete booking. It may also occur as the officer is filing a delinquency petition in Family Court – also known as the Family Division of the County Circuit Court.

After the arrest has been made, your child can either be released into your custody or detained at a juvenile detention facility until their preliminary hearing. This hearing should be within 24 hours after the arrest unless it’s during a weekend or holiday.

Preliminary Hearing in the Juvenile Justice System

Your child may be charged with either a crime or a status offense. This is something not illegal for adults but is for minors. For example, school truancy, curfew violations or running away from home.

At the hearing, the judge will review the information given by police and do one of several things:

  • Dismiss your child’s case or deny authorization of the petition.
  • Refer your child to counseling.
  • Place your child’s case on an informal process of court supervision, called a “consent calendar.”
  • Allow charges to move forward against your child, which is called placing the case on the “formal calendar.”

It is very advantageous to you and your child to hire an experienced juvenile crime attorney before this preliminary hearing takes place.

A competent attorney can advise you of your child’s rights. He or she can advise youhow to conduct yourselves for the best outcome at this preliminary hearing. In addition, he or she will be able to advocate for your child where appropriate during the hearing.

Consent Calendar Proceedings

Obtaining a case dismissal is the best possible outcome. Additionally, having your child’s case handled informally can keep your child from having a crime recorded on his or her permanent record.

A consent calendar case is under court supervision. You need to understand that if you agree to this, your child’s rights will be waived, including the:

  • Formal notice of charges
  • Right to a public attorney
  • Right to a jury trial
  • Presumption of Innocence
  • Right to present witnesses

The goal of this proceeding is to get your child to complete the plan the court creates and eventually destroy all records of the proceedings. The plan the court makes usually involves several steps for your child to take and services the court would like your child to participate in.

Juvenile cases can also be diverted to a community-based setting. This diversion has been shown to be more helpful in cases where there is mental illness and reduces the rate at which teenagers commit more crimes.

Diversion can look like writing apology letters, community service projects, payment of restitution or behavioral counseling.

Formal Charges

When minors are charged with crimes, it looks a little bit different from adult charges. A juvenile may admit or deny allegations, much like a guilty or not guilty plea.

If your child denies the charges, he has the right of presumption of innocence and can request a judge or jury trial.

In this case, his rights are similar to those of an adult charged with a crime:

  • The right to remain silent
  • The right to an attorney
  • And the right to call witnesses and to confront witnesses testifying against them, and the right to testify on their behalf.

Michigan Juvenile Defense Attorney

After the shock and worry of having your child encounter the juvenile justice system, having to deal with a potential conviction is the next hurdle.

If your child or loved one has been arrested and charged with a crime, there is hope. The best thing you can do is hire an experienced juvenile defense attorney to help you navigate the case. We are here to help!

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