Juvenile Offenses: What to do if Your Child is Arrested

Children may be arrested for criminal offenses such as theft, drug possession, and battery, to name a few. These charges can be terrifying for children and their parents and it is important to know how to handle these situations. The age of the child, the severity of the offense, and whether there were any previous offenses will in part determine how the arrest will be resolved. A juvenile is considered to be person under the age of 18. A person may generally be charged as a juvenile when the alleged offense was committed before he or she reaches the age of 18.

Juvenile Assessment Center

In some instances, a juvenile will be taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center. Here the juvenile will be assessed to determine how the case will proceed. The child’s parents will be called. In many cases, the child will be released to a parent or guardian. There may be a condition to release called home detention. This means that the juvenile must be confined to the home except for purposes of school. Sometimes a child will be held in a juvenile detention facility rather than released until the court date.

Formal Charges against a Juvenile

The State Attorney has the ability to drop the charges or proceed with a case against a juvenile. The decision depends greatly on the circumstances including the severity of the alleged crime. If the charges are dropped, the case does not go to court and no further action is required.

If the case proceeds, the State Attorney may divert the child through a program. If the program is successfully completed, the case will be concluded with no further action. These types of programs may include completion of community service and are most often done in cases that involve minor charges and where it is the child’s first offense.

Formal charges will be filed and an arraignment hearing will be held. The child will be required to enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest. It is highly advisable to seek counsel before the arraignment. Your lawyer will review the details of the case and help determine the best way to proceed. Additionally, the child’s parent or legal guardian must be present at the hearing.

The State Attorney may transfer the case to the adult system. This might be done in cases where the child is older and has a prior criminal conviction or where the charges are severe.

Adjudicatory Hearing

The next step in the process is generally an adjudicatory hearing. A judge will review the facts of the case and make a determination. The court will find whether the individual is guilty of the delinquent act if the facts support the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt. A formal disposition hearing will be held where the court will set sanctions, conditions, and services if the child was found to be guilty.

If a juvenile is found guilty, sanctions or conditions might include an order to attend a non-residential program, juvenile probation such as community supervision, or could be committed to a residential program for juveniles. The judge decides the length of time the juvenile will be required to attend a program.  

How a Brevard County Criminal Defense Attorney Will Help

The most important consideration after your child is arrested is to try to resolve the situation with the least amount of damage possible. You certainly want to avoid a criminal record and keep your child out of a juvenile detention center. The problem is likely to be frightening for the child and the family. Your lawyer will take charge of the situation, ease your mind, and answer your questions.

A Brevard County criminal defense attorney is essential in obtaining a favorable resolution to your case. In some cases, your lawyer will be able to get the charges lowered or dropped completely. If a hearing is held, the attorney will defend the charges and work to get the lowest possible penalties if found guilty. It is important to obtain an attorney as quickly as possible after the child’s arrest.

If your child was arrested or charged with a crime contact the experienced legal team at Henderson Legal Group to discuss your case today.


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