When your child is accused of a juvenile offense, you will, without a doubt, be concerned about their future. Juvenile crimes can be serious criminal offenses and should not be taken lightly. Even seemingly minor offenses can carry significant penalties and follow your child for the rest of their life. If the state charges your child with a crime, you might wonder how to help; contact an experienced Upper Marlboro juvenile defense attorney to represent your child’s interests.
When your loved one is facing juvenile criminal charges, you need the advice of a defense attorney. You are probably unsure how to proceed and have questions about your child’s rights and future. We are here to help. We can evaluate the charges against your child and provide you with the knowledge and experience that is critical in juvenile cases.
Juvenile Criminal Process
A juvenile offender is a person under eighteen who commits a specific act prohibited by law. While certain acts like theft, robbery, assault, and murder are clearly unlawful, juveniles are also subject to additional regulations such as truancy and curfew laws.
Even juvenile offenders have rights that must be protected. It is important to remain calm and remember the following:
- Do not speak to the police about what happened
- Do not resist arrest
- Ask for an attorney
- Do not answer any questions without an attorney present
The juvenile criminal process is different because there is a separate court system for juvenile offenders. In Maryland, the juvenile court and the justice system’s primary goals are to address the underlying causes of the minor’s misconduct while protecting the community. A lawyer in Upper Marlboro understands the differences between the juvenile and adult criminal process and could guide a family through it while protecting a child’s rights.
Common Juvenile Charges
While the rules and penalties may differ for juveniles, a court can charge a young adult with any crime an adult can commit. Some of the most common juvenile offenses include:
A skilled juvenile defense attorney in Upper Marlboro can interview witnesses, investigate the circumstances of the crime, and negotiate with prosecutors. From the initial consultation to the trial, we are here every step of the way.
Juvenile Delinquency in Maryland
Different penalties apply when a court charges someone under eighteen with a criminal offense. The court may refer young adults to the Department of Juvenile Services for treatment programs or counseling. Meanwhile, arrested young adults may be diverted to a youth offender program or informally supervised by the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services.
For more serious offenses, or if the child had multiple violations, police refer the case to prosecutors who file a delinquency petition. A delinquent act is committed by a person under eighteen that, if committed by an adult, would be a crime. In some circumstances, the court may opt to detain the juvenile because they are a danger to themselves or the public. When this happens, the court must hold a detention hearing. The court will then hold an adjudication hearing to determine if the child committed the offense. When the young adult is found to have committed the charged crime, the court will hold a disposition hearing to determine whether the child needs guidance, treatment, or rehabilitation. A lawyer in Upper Marlboro could protect a juvenile’s interests during these criminal hearings.
Can a Court Charge a Juvenile as an Adult?
Although there are separate justice systems for juveniles and adults in Maryland, a court can charge a person under the age of 18 as an adult under certain circumstances. For example, the court automatically charges a juvenile as an adult when they are 14 years or older and the crime is punishable by life in prison. When the court is charging a person under the age of 18 as an adult, seeking the advice of a juvenile defense attorney in Upper Marlboro as soon as possible is crucial.
Hire an Upper Marlboro Juvenile Defense Lawyer
The stakes might not seem high in a juvenile offense case, but you need a trusted Upper Marlboro juvenile defense lawyer when a child’s future is on the line. We are dedicated to achieving the best possible outcome for your child under the circumstances.
When seeking legal advice for a juvenile offense, contact our office to set up a free consultation. Juvenile crimes require sound advice and protection of your child’s rights. We have experience defending youth offenders and always fight for a person’s best interests. Contact us today.