One of the most overwhelming things a young person can face is criminal allegations of any kind. If convicted, criminal charges have the potential to alter the course of a person’s life, leaving a permanent mark on his or her record. However, the implications of criminal charges may be different when the defendant is not an adult. If your child is facing charges, you may benefit from understanding more about how the juvenile justice system works.
There are differences between the Minnesota juvenile justice system and the adult criminal justice system. Regardless of the allegations your child is facing, you will benefit from taking immediate action to protect his or her rights and prepare an adequate defense strategy. With the right approach, you may be able to protect the interests of your child and fight for his or her future.
The rights of juvenile offenders
A minor accused of a crime will go through the criminal justice system if he or she is between the ages of 10 and 18. If the allegations are particularly serious, there are times when a juvenile could face charges as an adult offender. Specific differences between the juvenile justice system and the adult criminal justice system include:
- Courts categorize juvenile offenses as delinquent acts instead of crimes.
- Juvenile offenders do not have trials, but instead they have adjudication hearings.
- Juvenile offenders do not have the right to a trial by jury of their peers as a judge will oversee the proceedings and make the final ruling.
- Individuals in the juvenile justice system do not have the right to bail or a public trial.
- Those convicted of a juvenile criminal offense will have their records sealed until the age of 18.
- After reaching the age of 18, the court may expunge the defendant’s record as long as he or she has met certain requirements.
While the penalties associated with juvenile crimes may not be as serious, they may still have the potential to bring long-term serious impacts to the life of your child. It is in his or her interests to challenge the case brought by the prosecution.
Where should you start?
It is important to defend against criminal charges, regardless of the age of the defendant or the nature of the allegations he or she is facing. The juvenile justice system is complex, and preparing an adequate defense is critical. If you are unsure of how to protect your child, you may benefit from seeking knowledgeable counsel regarding defense options.