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Juvenile Attorney

DOES YOUR CHILD FACE JUVENILE CHARGES IN WASHINGTON?

Washington Juvenile Criminal Attorney Michael Harbeson Can Help!

While most cases involving minors are tried in the juvenile system, some cases are taken to higher courts. Depending on the crime and circumstances of the case, a prosecutor may try to prosecute your child in an adult court and pursue the maximum amount of penalties available. Juvenile offenders are sometimes used to “make an example” in an effort to deter others from committing similar crimes, a practice that can be very detrimental to your child’s future.

What to expect if your child has been charged with a crime.

One of the first steps in the juvenile justice process is the detention hearing. At this hearing, a judge will determine if there is enough evidence against the minor to hold trial or if the child should be placed on probation. If trial is imminent, your attorney can work to challenge evidence that the prosecutor may have and aggressively defend your child’s case. Most judges will look into a child’s social life, criminal history, and attendance at school or prior run-ins with the law during a case to determine appropriate sentencing. Based on a judge’s findings, a child may be placed on probation with community service, counseling, and schooling or spend anywhere from 30 days in the Juvenile Temporary Detention Facility to time in a Department of Corrections prison.

The Washington State Juvenile Justice System varies slightly in its proceedings and handling of criminals than the adult justice system. Some key characteristics of the juvenile system include:

  • The ultimate goal of the juvenile corrections system is to help modify behaviors that can be seen as unfavorable and make the child a productive adult member of society.
  • At the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center, a point system will be used to determine the severity of your child’s case and whether they will be held at the center until their court date or can be released while awaiting a hearing or trial.
  • All individuals who are arrested prior to their 17th birthday are tried as juveniles.
  • Upon arrest, an officer will determine whether the offense should be handled by releasing the child to the custody of their parents or bringing the minor to the juvenile court.

In most states, a juvenile is viewed criminally as someone who committed a crime under the age of 18. This, of course, varies from state to state. In a few states, you can be considered old enough to commit a serious crime at the age of 14. As of last year, however, Washington state legislators signed a new law that extended juvenile jurisdiction to the age of 25 for certain specific crimes.

That means that a young person even in their early 20s may have a good chance of having charges dismissed. And if an individual under the age of 18 commits a crime of any sort, the parents should enlist the help of a juvenile attorney to find out more about juvenile crime and state laws.

Juvenile laws are put in place to protect children who commit crimes at a certain age. For instance, a child who commits a crime between the ages of 7-12 will most likely not have the capacity to understand the difference between right and wrong. In many cases, the child may not be held liable.

In Washington, juvenile courts and adult courts are very different and have different rules and regulations. However, there are some instances when the court may charge the juvenile as an adult for the following reasons:

  • The juvenile is a repeat offender
  • If the crime is particularly heinous

Consequences of a juvenile conviction

While a criminal conviction of a serious crime may not net the juvenile time in an adult prison, the consequences can still be severe. A juvenile conviction can result in the following:

  • Juvenile court detention
  • A lifetime record
  • Community service
  • Probation or parole
  • Significant fines paid by the parent

Juveniles, regardless of age, can commit serious crimes. If you have a child that has committed a crime as a juvenile, you should hire a juvenile crime attorney to protect the child's rights. Contact us today for your free initial consultation.

Regardless of the degree charged the goal remain the same. We will help you avoid the conviction for the criminal charge, but perhaps more importantly, keep you out of jail.

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