Just as in adult courts, the juvenile court requires that charges be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Juveniles have the same rights as adults, so these rights must be defended. A conviction in juvenile court could result in a stay at the youth detention center, a transfer to an alternative school, or the loss of the minor's drivers' license.
Juvenile court differs from an ordinary criminal court in several ways. First, convictions in juvenile court stay in juvenile court. Offenses by minors are prohibited from being published in order to protect the minor. The protection is twofold. First, the minor will not come under public scrutiny in later years for acts of immaturity. Second, the court wants to prevent the minor from entering into a cycle of crime and to give him or her a fresh start after their punishment is served. Despite this protection, there are serious consequences which can come out of a juvenile charge.
While experimentation with alcohol or drugs, traffic offenses, and acts of unruly behavior are the most common juvenile court matters, the court also has jurisdiction over other misdemeanors and felonies committed by minors.
Because the courts want to ensure that a minor does not return to the court as a criminal defendant in adulthood, the juvenile courts often offer alternatives to youth detention. Community service and essays allow the minor to give back to the community and think over his or her actions and explain in the essay why those actions hurt others. Counseling could also be used to help find the root of the problem as juvenile criminal actions are often a symptom of other problems. This sort of justice can be effective at preventing return visits to the court system. An attorney can be instrumental in showing the court how alternative forms of punishment could benefit a juvenile to help the minor straighten out his or her problems and move on with life. To find out more about juvenile criminal issues, call 770-461-2025 for a consultation with one of our criminal defense attorneys.