Our society commonly treats children and teens different from adults. There are things that children and teenagers can do that adults cannot, and there things that they cannot. One thing that we all have in common is that we are all capable of being prosecuted by the State and Federal courts. It is rare that a child will find themselves in trouble with the law; more often it is the parental justice system that concerns them.
Teenagers, however, can often find themselves facing the court system. Whether it’s a spur of the moment decision, or taking the fall for a friend, teenagers often believe that they can avoid the trouble that others experience. These conditions often lead to problems with the legal system.
Luckily, juveniles are generally treated differently than adults in the criminal justice system. This stems from the idea that children under the age of 18 are fundamentally different than adults, not only in their level of responsibility but also their potential for rehabilitation. The juvenile justice system does not look merely to punish minors for their mistakes, but also to provide rehabilitation and reintegration of the minor back into society.
Despite these goals, minors can face very serious consequences depending upon the type of charge. At Ascheman & Smith, we understand that a child facing potential criminal punishment can be an emotionally trying time for the entire family. We can help walk you through the juvenile justice system and explain your rights, and your child’s rights, to be sure you can both make an informed decision.
Juvenile delinquency cases can range from issues as simple as staying out past curfew to very serious matters like rape or murder. These charges can be classified as felonies, gross misdemeanors, misdemeanors or petty misdemeanors. Such charges are brought by the State against the minor and if severe enough, the State can move to have the minor tried as an adult. To do this, the juvenile must be between the ages of 14 and 17.
Other juvenile crimes include, but are not limited to:
- Consumption of alcohol by a minor/Underage Drinking
- Disorderly Conduct
- Drinking and Driving (even one drop)
- Drug Possession
- Shoplifting or Theft
- Traffic Tickets
In general, juvenile cases in the State of Minnesota are considered confidential. Typically, the only persons allowed to attend include the minor, the minor’s counsel, the minor’s parents, legal guardian, or guardian ad litem, and the prosecuting attorney. These parties may seek court approval to allow additional persons to attend. There are exceptions if the minor was at least 16 years old at the time the alleged offense occurred. In such cases, the statement of probable cause and the hearing in felony cases are public record.
This is a general overview of the juvenile justice system and just scratches the surface. It is important to contact a qualified attorney who will fight for your child’s rights as soon as possible. Call us today for a free consultation, 612-217-0077.