Addressing Juvenile Offenses – Guidance Through the Legal Process
The realm of juvenile justice encompasses the tailored procedures states have established to adjudicate cases involving youth—typically referred to as "juveniles" or "minors"—facing criminal allegations. At The Law Office of Monte J. Robbins, Esq., we understand the complexities of juvenile court and stand ready to assist young individuals and their families through this distinct legal landscape.Eligibility for Juvenile Court
The juvenile court's jurisdiction does not have a universally fixed age for accountability; it varies. Typically, children under the age of seven are seen as too immature to be held responsible, whereas those 14 and older may be answerable for their actions in either juvenile or adult court. Those between the ages of seven and 14 are assessed differently, with the burden on the prosecution to prove the juvenile's cognitive ability to form a culpable mind and thus stand trial within the juvenile system.
Disparate perspectives prevail on how to approach juvenile offenders, with variations seen from state law to individual law enforcement practices. At The Law Office of Monte J. Robbins, Esq., our goal is to provide clarity and support at every step.Interactions with Law Enforcement
Upon suspecting that a minor has engaged in criminal activity, law enforcement officials have several options:
- Issue a warning and release the minor.
- Issue a warning and detain the minor until a parent or guardian arrives.
- Take the minor into custody and recommend that the case be forwarded to the juvenile court.
When a case gets directed to juvenile court, a prosecutor or juvenile court intake officer (commonly a probation officer) will decide the next steps, which may include dismissing the case, handling it informally without filing formal charges, or initiating formal proceedings through a "petition."Handling of Informal Cases
If the decision is made to handle the matter informally, the minor will likely encounter a disciplinary meeting with a probation officer or judge, which may result in counseling, educational programs, restitution, fines, community service, or probation. Should there be suspicion of abuse or neglect, proceedings to modify the custodial situation may also be initiated.Formal Charging Process
Should the matter escalate to formal charges, the juvenile will be arraigned and the case is added to the court's calendar. Subsequent steps typically involve:
- A fitness hearing to determine whether to try the juvenile as a minor or as an adult.
- Plea bargaining or adjudication (similar to a trial).
- If responsible for the charges, the minor receives a disposition (sentence).
- Post-disposition hearings to monitor compliance with court orders.
When intake officers decide on whether to press formal charges, they contemplate various factors, official and unofficial:
- Severity of the offense
- Age of the minor
- Juvenile's past court interactions
- Strength of evidence
- Gender of the juvenile
- Minor's social history
- Parental or guardian control over the minor
Subjective considerations may also influence these decisions, including the minor's demeanor, appearance, family and community support, legal representation, and often less-discussed aspects such as ethnicity and socio-economic background.
At The Law Office of Monte J. Robbins, Esq., we are dedicated to providing minors with a strong defense and navigating these often-subjective factors to pursue the best outcome. We believe in the potential for rehabilitation and champion for the rights of the youth in the face of the judicial system.
For legal assistance with juvenile cases, contact The Law Office of Monte J. Robbins, Esq. at 303-355-5148. We are prepared to advocate for the best interests of your child with experience, empathy, and understanding.