A juvenile is anyone under the legal adult age, which in most states is 18-years-old. Many juveniles face legal issues—some of which are minor violations and some of which are much more serious. If your child is facing a juvenile delinquency case, here’s what you can expect.

If Your Child is Arrested

If your child is caught doing something illegal, the police can handle the incident in several different ways. They could just issue a warning and let your child go. Other times, the police may issue a warning and call the parents to come pick up the juvenile. If the police feel that the incident is serious enough, they may refer the case to juvenile court.

If Your Child is Facing a Juvenile Delinquency Case

If your child has been referred to court and is facing a juvenile delinquency case, you should find a juvenile attorney. Typically, a prosecutor or juvenile intake officer will either dismiss the case, informally handle the incident, or file formal charges. This will depend on the juvenile’s age, record, gender, behavior, or available evidence and severity of the offense. Whatever the prosecutor’s actions, you will want a juvenile lawyer to assist you at this stage.

Informal Proceedings

If the prosecutor decides to handle your child’s case informally, they will probably still need to appear before a judge or probation officer. Your child won’t face formal charges, but they may have to attend counseling or classes, pay a fine, listen to a lecture, do community service, be on probation, or pay for any damages. If the judge or officer suspect child abuse or neglect has played a role in the incident, child protective services (CPS) may remove the child from your home. You may want to speak to the juvenile lawyers or CPS lawyers if this happens.

Formal Proceedings

If the prosecutor decides to formally charge your child, they will appear before a judge in court. The judge will decide whether your child will be sent to juvenile or adult criminal court. They will also decide whether your child will be sent home or be detained before the hearing.

If your child will go to juvenile court, they may enter into a plea agreement, which means that they will have to comply with certain conditions. The conditions may include paying for any damages or attending counseling.

If the judge diverts the case, your child may have to do certain things, such as community service or attend counseling. If they don’t do what the judge has instructed, formal charges may be reinstated.

If the case goes to trial, the prosecutor and the juvenile lawyers will present evidence and argue the case in court. In most states, this will occur before a judge rather than a jury. The judge will decide if the juvenile is delinquent.

If Your Child is Found Delinquent

If the judge finds your child delinquent, they may order counseling, probation, reimbursement, or confinement in a juvenile detention facility. Your child may have to appear periodically in court to be monitored.

If your child is facing a juvenile delinquency case, make sure you hire a juvenile attorney. They will be able to help you through the process that follows. Educating yourself and knowing what to expect can also help you.