When minors, people younger than 18 years old, come into contact with the criminal justice system, there are special issues to consider. Depending on age, they may developmentally very much still be children, learning to control their impulses or appreciate the difference between right and wrong. At the same time, when minors are charged with a crime, they can face serious consequences in the same ways that adults do. Even at school, students can have an encounter with a school resource officer lead to criminal charges and jail time.
A school fight could end with a student charged with aggravated assault and treated as an adult in court. Even when a case is in juvenile court, the situation is still every bit as serious as when an adult is charged with a crime. In many ways, the stakes are higher because a minor’s criminal conviction impacts their entire future before it has even started.
This is why it is so important to retain the services of an experienced attorney. A Cobb County juvenile crimes lawyer can examine all of the aspects of a juvenile’s case and advise as to all the legal options available.
Juvenile Crime Law in Georgia
The basic rule of thumb in Georgia is that anyone seventeen or older is treated as an adult by the criminal justice system, and anyone younger than seventeen is treated as a minor. However, there are many exceptions to this.
The juvenile justice system places minors who are detained in a juvenile facility rather than with the general prison population, and minors’ criminal records can be sealed so that their youthful mistakes don’t follow them into adulthood.
Furthermore, in juvenile court proceedings, the goal is not just to determine the guilt of the minor and punish them but also to decide how to do what is best for the child. In a juvenile court hearing, a minor’s case will be decided by a judge rather than a jury.
For more serious crimes, minors younger than 17 can be tried as adults. For example, any minor over the age of 13, if charged with a violent crime, such as aggravated assault or armed robbery, will be tried as an adult unless a judge determines they should still be treated as a minor. In certain circumstances, a judge can determine that a minor who is 15 or over can be tried in the adult court system even when the crime charged is not a violent one.
Possible Juvenile Crime Penalties and Defenses
In the juvenile justice system, the penalties are typically less severe and the confidential nature of the court proceedings helps to protect a child’s future. A Cobb County juvenile criminal defense attorney will advocate for their potential clients, including raising possible defenses.
Minors must still be read their Miranda rights if they are under arrest, and still have the protection against unreasonable search and seizure offered by the Fourth Amendment. A minor’s age and understanding may be relevant to show whether there was intent where the intent is required to prove guilt.
Contact a Cobb County Juvenile Crimes Attorney Today
Juvenile cases have their own particular challenges and it is important that a Cobb County juvenile crime lawyer handling a juvenile case understands those challenges. Minors face adult consequences when charged with a crime. They need an attorney to fight for them and their future.