Next to hearing that your child has been injured, contracted a life-threatening illness or disappeared, the most frightening thing you can experience as a parent is finding out that your child has been arrested for a crime. Juvenile law is very different to adult criminal law. As with all criminal law, it varies from state to state, but there are some consistencies in how minors are treated by the justice system. There are some benefits and some drawbacks to being classified as a juvenile. As with most areas of law, there are also some dangerous misconceptions.
You Do Not Get a Clean Slate When You Turn 18
One of the most common myths about juvenile convictions is that your record will be sealed or wiped clean when you turn 18. This dangerous misconception leads many youths to believe that they can do anything they want without long-term ramifications. It even encourages some teenagers to commit crimes now while they can still “get away with it.”
Unfortunately, it does not really work that way. The laws vary from state to state, but in generally the severity of the crime, the child’s age, and their behavior after conviction will all play a role in their ability to have their record sealed. In some types of cases the record can be life-long, and sometimes very disproportionate to the crime. For instance, a juvenile who is convicted may be required to register as a sex offender for decades or the rest of their life, even if they were not aware that the activity they engaged in was a crime.
Sealed is a misleading word, too. A sealed record is not erased or inaccessible to everyone.
Juvenile “Rights” Are Not the Same
In general, juvenile proceedings are less formal than adult proceedings. In some ways this can be to your benefit and result in leniency, based on age. However, this leniency can work both ways. Juveniles do not have all of the same rights that adults have and may suffer for it. For instance, harmful evidence that would be inadmissible in an adult case may be allowed in a juvenile case.
If you or a loved one is in need of legal assistance, call The Shamy Law Firm at 732-800-1090 or submit an online questionnaire. The initial consultation is free of charge. If we agree to handle your case, we will aggressively defend your rights and help you every step of the way in securing the best possible outcome. Sometimes the proper legal action very early in the process can stop prosecution in its tracks saving your time, money, and other hardships. Criminal cases can require rigorous investigation on behalf of the defendant, and involve strict deadlines. Please, contact us right away to ensure that you do not give up any of your precious legal rights.