If the police arrested your child on serious charges, such as for a violent crime, you may wonder what to do next. You should not underestimate the seriousness of a juvenile arrest. Just because your child is under 18 does not mean he or she will not necessarily face legal punishment.
The juvenile justice system adjudicates minors under the age of 18. This justice system is different from the adult criminal justice system. That being the case, not only does your child need a lawyer to move through the system effectively, he or she needs an attorney who knows how this particular system works.
Particulars of the juvenile justice system
The United States has at least 51 different juvenile justice systems. Authorities created the juvenile justice system separately from the harsh punishments of adult court and prison. Therefore, this system aims to help young people divert from a life of incarceration and may offer rehabilitative programs. Many juvenile courts try to avoid incarcerating young people and instead may offer them alternatives to detention. However, juvenile arrests still go through a court process that requires legal assistance to provide the best possible defense. Juvenile judges have a range of options in terms of sentencing young people.
Criminal records and your child's future
Another reason your child needs a competent juvenile justice attorney is a strategic defense can help your son or daughter avoid having a criminal record. Although there are ways to remedy the negative effects of a criminal record, such as seeking an expungement to remove past criminal charges, if your child has a strong legal defense, there may be the possibility of avoiding a conviction in the first place. A skilled juvenile justice attorney can analyze your child's particular case to find the best possible way forward, taking all various factors surrounding your child and the arrest into consideration. A criminal record can affect job and educational opportunities, so it is of paramount importance that your child has the best possible chance of avoiding this negative outcome.