In many circumstances, the law treats minors differently than adults. For instance, minors are not permitted to enter into certain contractual relationships. Minors cannot legally consent to marriage. Minors are also given the opportunity to have their criminal charges expunged and sealed if they meet the requirements for the record removal process in Georgia.
If you or your child are facing a criminal offense, it is important to work with a Georgia juvenile crimes lawyer right away to begin your defense. An experienced defense attorney can be essential in safeguarding your child’s future.
Treatment of Juveniles
Any individual aged between 13 and 17 who is charged with a crime will be tried by the juvenile court. Individuals aged 13 and under will almost never be considered found guilty of a crime. Juvenile crimes are generally not considered criminal. A juvenile court will adjudicate them as a delinquent, but it is not a conviction.
If adjudicated as delinquent, the child may be taken into custody by the Department of Juvenile Justice until the Department deems the child as capable of re-entering the public. Cases involving juveniles may require that the defendant be placed in a detention facility. Getting a young offender defense attorney in Georgia to potentially prevent this from happening is essential at the early stages of the charges.
Minors are also not guaranteed the right for their case to be heard by a jury. Most times, a judge will make a final determination as to a child’s guilt. In addition, judges are held to traditional evidentiary standards, as would be the required in a traditional case involving an adult.
It is critical that the minor-defendant have a strong advocate by their side to defend them. The judge needs to be thoroughly convinced that the child should not have to face jail or detention. An experienced Georgia juvenile crimes attorney will advocate for creative punishments involving things such as community service.
Felony Charges for Juveniles
If the alleged crime is serious – such as that of a felony – then the case may be heard by the Superior Court in which the child will likely be treated as an adult. Under Georgia law, any of the following can give rise to a circumstance where a child would be treated as an adult in a court of law:
- Voluntary manslaughter
- Armed robbery (if committed with a firearm)
- Aggravated sexual battery
- Aggravated sodomy
- Aggravated child molestation
These are serious charges and should not be taken lightly. Conviction of any of the aforementioned charges can result in serious jail time and can have major long-term repercussions.
Consequences of Conviction
The negative effects of being convicted for a crime as a minor can have serious implications on that minor’s future:
- Denial of college applications
- Denial of job applications
- Depression, which can lead to drug/alcohol abuse
- Loss of friends/social life
- If convicted of a serious crime, criminal record not eligible for expungement
Minors are undergoing a major form of mental and physical development. If they are subject to detention or incarceration during this time, it is possible that they might miss out on certain life experiences that will help foster proper development.
Contacting a Georgia Juvenile Crimes Attorney
If you or your child has been charged with a crime, it is not too late to seek advice from a seasoned juvenile criminal defense attorney. Juvenile criminal defense attorneys in Georgia have handled a number of juvenile cases and understand the importance in preserving a minor’s name and reputation for their future.
Georgia juvenile crimes lawyers make it a priority to help prevent a hiccup in judgment from turning into a life-long punishment. Contact a skilled lawyer today to discuss the charges and let them help come up with a defense strategy.