Rehabilitation is still the goal in juvenile court but even that is starting to shrink. Juvenile sentences have gotten stiffer and juvenile records are being used in adult court for sentencing. All too often, parents treat juvenile charges as something that simply needs to be talked out. This is wrong-thinking. Your child's freedom and future can be at stake.
More and more young people are charged with delinquency although they need help for such problems as ADD, ADHD and Asperger's syndrome.
I've seen kids arrested simply because they're part of a group where one person did something wrong. When a homeless man was set on fire, a group of juveniles including my client were charged. Everyone admitted his or her involvement - except my client. We fought the charges and won.
In another case, a young woman charged my juvenile client with raping her. After a hearing, the charges were dismissed.
One area of concern is "sexting." The problem is that asking a stranger for sex or photos of him or her nude (sending photos of you nude), can land a juvenile on SORNA (sexual offender registration, that used to be called "Megan's Law,") if these messages or e-mails involve a minor. There can be a placement in a juvenile facility, which is another name for confinement.
Mistake of age won't avoid some offenses?
A 14-year-old boy was detained for 70 days when his step-twin brothers accused him of trying to anally rape them. As it turned out, the boys, about 9 years old, were called on the carpet by their mother for making sexual remarks. One deflected the question by claiming he was penetrated by my client. The other didn't skip a beat before he claimed my client tried to do the same thing to him.
During my vigorous cross-examination, both boys admitted lying and collusion. Based on this, the Judge said he could not believe the twins' testimony. He dismissed the petitions and released my client from custody to a tearful reunion with his family.
Even if the charges were justified, there are programs to avoid what amounts to a conviction. These programs are geared for rehabilitation, can lead to dismissal of the charges, and an expunction of the arrest record.
Juvenile delinquency charges are serious. Don't try to handle it by yourself. Get a lawyer's help.