If the authorities in Wellington charge your child with a crime, you are likely going to be concerned with how a conviction could affect their future. Such convictions can carry tough penalties up to and including detention in a juvenile facility, and a conviction of any kind can be severely disruptive for a child’s education, family life, and future education and career opportunities.
A skilled Wellington juvenile defense lawyer could help protect your child against such penalties by defending them in Court. The best step you can take to help your child avoid a criminal conviction may be to call an experienced criminal defense attorney that could help.
Common Juvenile Charges
There are significant differences between the juvenile criminal process and the adult criminal process. Since minors’ brains are not fully developed, they can be considered less responsible for their criminal actions than an adult in a similar situation can. However, even if a minor is not charged as an adult, they can still face life-altering penalties if convicted.
Some of the most common juvenile offenses in Wellington include:
- Petit theft
- Driving under the influence
- Possession of marijuana
- Underage possession of alcohol
- Criminal mischief or vandalism
- Sudden snatching (a robbery charge)
Any minor facing these or other charges may need the help of an experienced Wellington juvenile defense attorney.
Avoiding Criminal Prosecution
Minors charged with a crime may sometimes be able to avoid prosecution by undergoing a diversion program instead. Juvenile diversion programs are designed to help minors avoid criminal conviction for their actions. These programs recognize that kids make mistakes and focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment.
These diversion programs require that the juvenile complete specified requirements, such as community service, obeying a curfew, completing alcohol and drug awareness education courses, undergoing counseling, and apologizing and paying restitution to any victims of their actions. The exact program requirements will depend on the criminal charge the juvenile faces.
Minors who successfully complete a diversion program will not undergo criminal prosecution. This means they will not face the risk of conviction and subsequent legal penalties, including detention.
Qualifying for Juvenile Diversion
It is important to note that not every minor facing a criminal charge qualifies for a juvenile diversion program. The Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) determines whether a minor defendant qualifies for diversion, or whether their case will be referred for criminal prosecution. The DJJ considers numerous factors when making their recommendation for a diversion program. Very often, we are able to intervene and help get our clients accepted into one of these programs.
The juvenile’s criminal record—or lack thereof—is a major factor in this consideration. Minor defendants who do not qualify for a diversion program could face traditional criminal prosecution instead.
If Convicted, Can a Juvenile Go to Jail?
Whether or not a juvenile defendant goes to jail upon conviction will often depend on the situation. Many juvenile charges are non-violent misdemeanors, such as underage possession of alcohol or disorderly conduct.
Often, juveniles convicted of a misdemeanor may be sentenced to community service, fines, probation, or other penalties. Whether or not their sentence includes incarceration depends on the severity of the crime, as well as their prior criminal records. Minors convicted of a felony, such as robbery or arson, could be incarcerated in a juvenile detention facility. A Wellington juvenile defense lawyer could attempt to mitigate the severity of the penalties that an individual may face.
Consulting a Wellington Juvenile Defense Attorney
If your child is facing any type of charges, then do not hesitate to contact a Wellington juvenile defense lawyer right away. Your attorney could examine all of the aspects of your child’s case and advise you of your best legal options going forward. Speak with a qualified lawyer that could advocate for your child and protect their rights.