One of the questions that often arises in our criminal practice, is what happens when a juvenile commits a criminal offense? If your child ever enters the criminal justice system, he or she may be deemed a “juvenile delinquent.” Juvenile delinquents are minors, usually defined as being between the ages of 10 and 18, who have committed some act that violates the law.
Offenses committed by juveniles aren’t called “crimes” as they are for adults. Rather, crimes committed by minors are called “delinquent acts.” Instead of a trial, the juvenile has an “adjudication,” in which they receive a “disposition” and a sentence. In Washington state, a juvenile can have an opportunity to proceed to trial in certain circumstances in which a disposition or adjudication can not be reached. However, juvenile proceedings differ from adult proceedings in a number of other ways as well.
Delinquent acts generally fall into two categories. The first type of delinquent act is one that would be considered a crime had an adult committed it. For particularly serious crimes, some jurisdictions will even try children as adults. When children are tried as juveniles, on the other hand, parents are often required to pay the court costs for the child.
The second type of delinquent act is one that wouldn’t normally be a crime had an adult performed it. These are typically known as “status” offenses since it’s considered an offense because of the person’s age. The most common examples of status offenses are staying out past curfew, alcohol possession or consumption, and truancy, which is the continued failure to attend school.
As you can see, juvenile delinquency is more than mischievous pranks such as doorbell ditching or throwing water balloons at your neighbor. Some of these offenses can be quite serious, such as drug-related offenses or even property crimes or crimes against another person. Delinquency prevention and intervention efforts are primarily comprised of identifying the risk factors that contribute to delinquency, addressing those factors early, and building on protective factors to offset the risks.
There are a growing number of non-profit programs designed to assist youth and help guide them to a better path. Organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of America can provide mentoring and positive role models for at-risk youth. So, if your child is getting caught up in a series of juvenile delinquency acts, you may want to consider reaching out to one of these organizations for assistance.
If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer. SQ Attorneys can be reached at (425) 359-3791 and/or (206) 441-0900.