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My Underage Child Committed a Crime: Now What?

Posted on: December 29, 2022

Few things can be as frightening as an underage child being accused of committing a crime (also known as juvenile delinquency cases). Parents and caregivers in these situations are faced with confusion, anger, anxiety, fear, and a lot of important questions that need answering. What are the steps you need to take when your child is in this kind of situation? An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you navigate the way through this difficult time while defending the rights of your child.

How Do Juvenile Delinquency Cases Work?

A juvenile will be brought in to see a juvenile court officer within 24 hours, and the information-gathering phase, or “intake process” begins. The minor and parents/caregivers will then be interviewed about the legal complaint. Witnesses, police officers, and anyone else who saw or was involved in what happened may also be questioned. Physical evidence and other details will also be reviewed, and relatives and others who support the juvenile may be interviewed to see what they feel is in the child’s best interest. The minor may also be taken into custody.

While a misdemeanor charge might not be a major concern, serious charges can be discussed with a criminal lawyer at this early stage. After the interviews, your underage child’s case might proceed to an informal adjustment. Otherwise, a delinquency petition can be filed. That petition gets brought to court, and an adjudication hearing will be scheduled. Should a judge determine that the youth committed a crime, a disposition hearing will come next.

How are Underage Children Treated When Charged with Crimes?

Unless the juvenile is charged as an adult for a very serious crime like murder, the complaint could be resolved in other ways. They might be sent to juvenile detention for a certain amount of time or be placed under the watchful eye of a juvenile probation officer. Other possibilities include requiring the child to pay restitution, being prohibited from driving, community service, and counseling.

The juvenile justice system has several important goals:

  • Addressing treatment needs
  • Habilitation (learning and improving daily living skills)
  • Maintaining public safety
  • Rehabilitation
  • Reintegrating youths into their communities.

As you can see, this approach is a restorative one that aims to teach adolescents and limit exposure to adult prisons. Those avenues can create very negative environments that keep youths on their current paths. Limiting that contact allows minors to move forward, hopefully with more opportunities to learn from their mistakes.

Working with an experienced criminal lawyer who has worked with underage children and families is especially important because you can better understand how things will proceed and what your child’s rights are. It is crucial to examine every angle in these cases while being able to effectively communicate with adults and juveniles. Our legal team builds comprehensive cases that help underage children committed of crimes, and stand by our client’s sides until things are resolved.

A Freehold Criminal Lawyer from Ellis Law Will Offer Sound Legal Guidance for Your Underage Child’s Legal Concerns

 When an underage child commits a crime, those who care about them also suffer and need significant help. You do not have to face this alone when an experienced, caring Freehold criminal lawyer is available at Ellis Law. Schedule a free, confidential consultation by calling 732-308-0200 or completing our online form. Our Freehold, New Jersey offices serve clients throughout Freehold, Asbury Park, East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Long Branch, Neptune, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, Monmouth County, Marlboro, and Ocean County, as well as Brooklyn and New York City.