Representing Georgia’s Juveniles
The state of Georgia considers anyone 13 to 17 years old to be a minor. Minors are generally tried in juvenile court for criminal offenses. Enlist the help of one of our juvenile defense lawyers to help you bear the burden.
The rule is not absolute. For more serious crimes, a minor can be charged and tried in adult court. Children as young as 13 are placed under the original jurisdiction of superior court for the crimes of first- and second-degree murder, voluntary manslaughter, rape, aggravated sodomy, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sexual battery, and armed robbery if committed with a firearm. Moreover, if the defendant is 15 years of age or older, the case may be transferred to superior court if the juvenile is charged with any crime that would be a felony in adult court. Courts have a great deal of discretion on whether a juvenile’s case will be placed in adult court or juvenile court. Compelling reasons exist to keep a case in juvenile court. Foremost, juvenile court allows for sealed records. Consequently, the mistakes of a juvenile do not have to follow the child into adulthood. A juvenile still has the right to a trial, but the court emphasizes rehabilitation as opposed to punishment.
Significant differences exist between courts for adult defendants and juvenile courts. Only judges hear juvenile court cases; there are no jury trials. Also, a charge of delinquency may constitute as a status-related offense, which are actions that prohibited because of the juvenile’s age. For example, truancy from school, alcohol consumption, loitering on or about public streets between midnight and 5 a.m, and frequenting bars are status offenses. Delinquent acts may also consist of those forbidden to adults such as theft, assault and possession of illegal drugs.
If the police have taken your child into custody, it is essential to enlist an experienced juvenile defense lawyer immediately. In some cases, a detention hearing may take place as early as the next day. Depending on the circumstances of your child’s detention, different rules may apply. Our attorneys will explain the circumstances of your child’s detention and represent him or her at any detention hearing.
Trial In Juvenile Court
Your child will need the services of a juvenile defense lawyer throughout the process. Although juvenile courts do not have juries, juveniles have the same rights to a fair trial that adults have. The prosecution has the same burden of proof in juvenile court as they do in an adult court. The prosecution must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Also, juvenile defendants have a presumption of innocence, so just as in adult court, the prosecution has to prove the juvenile is guilty.
Status Offenses That Apply To Those Under 21
Although the state considers a person an adult at age 18, and subject to adult court at 17, there are status-related offenses for people under 21. These status-related offenses frequently involve alcohol. Underage possession of alcohol, purchasing alcohol or attempting to purchase alcohol are misdemeanors. If you are a minor facing misdemeanor charges or the parent of a minor facing charges, a juvenile defense lawyer is essential. The state of Georgia allows pretrial diversion programs, which may require a defendant to perform community service, pay a fine, attend classes and stay on good behavior. The court does not enter the conviction on the record. However, you must prepare a petition and an attorney must make a request to the district attorney’s office. An experienced criminal attorney is essential in preparing the petition and communicating with the district attorney’s office.
Don’t Overdo Tough Love
Parents of young people might want to follow the tough love approach when their child gets into a minor scrape with the law. While letting a young person face the consequences of their behavior can be useful, sometimes the punishment does not fit the crime. A conviction for possession of alcohol or a misdemeanor possession of marijuana may not seem life-altering, but it can be. In today’s highly competitive world, an immature decision made by a 17- or 18-year-old can haunt them for years. Admissions to colleges and future jobs could be in jeopardy.
If your child has been charged with a misdemeanor drug violation, an alcohol offense, shoplifting or any other violation of the law, enlist an experienced attorney who will vigorously defend their rights and protect their best interest. An experienced criminal attorney will look at every option that is available and pursue a pre-trial diversion program when it is applicable.
Contact Our Juvenile Defense Lawyers
Young people make mistakes that may land them into the criminal justice system. Regardless of whether it is a felony or misdemeanor, the repercussions of a conviction may harm them for years.
Our team takes pride in fighting for our clients. We understand how important it is that a young person does not enter adulthood with a criminal conviction. We know the law, care about our clients and have helped many juveniles and their families. Our Marietta juvenile criminal defense attorneys will provide a strong defense for your child. Call our Marietta office at 770-919-9525 or by using the online contact form.