Navigating the juvenile court system can be overwhelming and scary for parents and teenagers.
We are here to help.
The juvenile court system is set up differently from the adult system. One of the main differences is in how the goals of each court system are different from each other.
In the adult court system, the goal is to apprehend and punish offenders who are found guilty.
The juvenile court system has as its aim to rehabilitate minors who have run afoul of the law. In many cases, the prosecutors and judges want to help your child keep the incident off of his or her permanent record.
What If My Child Is Found Guilty In Juvenile Court?
The sentencing stage in juvenile court is called the “disposition” stage. This stage can look a variety of different ways.
The first thing that will happen when your child is found guilty of a crime and before disposition is decided upon, is an information gathering stage. The court will gather testimony and hear arguments from both prosecution and defense attorneys as to the proper treatment for your child.
Your child may be released on bond while this process is taking place, with a strict set of guidelines they have to follow closely.
One of the most important things to happen during this time is an in-depth interview with a probation officer. It’s essential that you fully participate in this interview and take the opportunity to share with this officer any mental health concerns you have about your child.
The information gathered during this interview will be used to help the judge decide on the best course for your child. It is also a crucial moment to have a conversation with your private attorney.
Depending on the incident causing the arrest, the judge may require your child to:
- Live at juvenile facility either in state or out of state
- Do community service
- Live with a foster care family
- Live at a private or public institution for treatment or rehabilitation
- Pay restitution
- Live at home on probation with parents or guardians – this usually includes rules and guidelines and may also include electronic monitoring
The judge can also waive your child into the adult court system for adult proceedings. If this happens, your child may serve a blended sentence.
You may be subject to sentencing as part of your child’s sentence. Sometimes judge’s order parents to participate in treatment or services.
What You Can Do As a Parent or Guardian
Be persistent, actively involved, but polite.
The best way to help your child is to:
- Stay involved
- Document everything
- Be organized
- Show up for all court dates, and
- Dress appropriately.
Hostility won’t get you very far, however, persistence will. Make sure your child’s lawyer has all the information he or she needs:
- Records of treatment or mental health challenges or disabilities,
- Medical health history, and
- Education records.
In addition, it helps to prepare a statement for the judge in advance in case you are called upon to speak. If you have a statement prepared, you are less likely to feel nervous or to forget what you wanted to say.
Experienced Juvenile Court Attorney in Michigan
It is scary to read the list of all the places a judge may decide to send your child instead of back home. However, remember that the judge’s goal is to help your child to regain what he or she has lost in the eyes of the law.
There is hope. By consulting an experienced juvenile court attorney for your child right away, you will ensure that you are doing the best possible thing.
Call David J. Kramer today.
You may also like to read: The article, How to Navigate the Juvenile Justice System, outlines what happens if a minor is arrested, and the steps you need to take if it’s your child or loved one.