In an ideal world, kids would be little angels, playing with their toys, watching TV, or kicking a soccer ball around with their friends at the local park. They might get up to mischief from time to time, but nothing serious enough to warrant the attention of local police officers. Unfortunately, however, life isn’t always a Norman Rockwell painting and some kids do bad things. The question we are going to address here is whether your child needs a criminal defense attorney.
Is Your Child Criminally Responsible?
Young children aged 6 and under are not criminally responsible for their actions. No matter what diabolical things they do, in the eyes of the law, it’s not their fault. So, if a young child finds a loaded gun and shoots someone dead, they can’t be tried in the justice system. The responsible adult who left the loaded gun lying around and failed to supervise the child will probably be liable, however.
Children aged 7 to 15 may end up in the juvenile justice system if they commit a crime. Kids 16-18 are more likely to end up being transferred to the adult Superior Court if they commit a felony crime. Younger children will probably not go to court, but children 12 and older are increasingly being tried as adults for serious crimes.
Does My Kid Need a Lawyer?
Much depends on the severity of the crime and the state you live in. For example, there is a world of difference between a younger kid being detained for stealing an apple from a neighbor’s orchard and an older teen being accused of first-degree rape.
Minor infractions may be dealt with leniently. For example, if your child is accused of a minor misdemeanor and he has no previous record, he may be let off with a warning and told to stay out of trouble. If the case is referred to juvenile court, an officer of the court will decide, based on the evidence, whether to dismiss the charges, deal with the matter “off the record”, or file formal charges against your child.
The Juvenile Justice system is designed to help kids, not persecute them, and court officers and judges can exercise a lot of discretion. However, even minor indiscretions can come back and bite a child and there is plenty of evidence to suggest bias plays a part in how a crime is dealt with.
Unless your child is sent home with a stern warning, it is better to call a lawyer to provide help and support. If your child is accused of a serious crime such as burglary, stealing a motor vehicle, possession of a controlled substance, sexual assault, unlawful possession of a weapon, arson, rape, murder, etc., your child will need an experienced criminal defense attorney such as Mark Rees Law Attorney In Jonesboro.
An experienced criminal defense attorney can use their knowledge of the Juvenile Justice system to try and help your child avoid a felony conviction, which will stay with them into adulthood.