One of the most frightening things that a parent can learn is that their child is facing criminal charges. For minors, these are usually handled in the juvenile justice system. There are some specific differences between the adult criminal justice system and the juvenile justice system. Understanding these can help parents as they venture through this unfamiliar territory.
When a minor is in the juvenile justice system, they don’t have the right to a trial before a jury. Instead, the proceedings are handled before a judge. A minor can’t have a jury of their peers since that would mean the jury would be comprised of other minors.
Judges who preside over these cases are trying to find the balance between helping the minor and protecting the public. In many cases, there are specific services that are ordered as part of the case. These aim to help encourage the child to move back to the lawful side of the system.
The juvenile does have the right to an attorney when they are facing charges. This is often a difficult thing for the parents to deal with because the attorney has to represent the juvenile. The attorney is there to work for the minor –even if what the minor wants isn’t what the parents want.
Parents who have a child in the juvenile justice system should pay close attention throughout the process so that they know what’s going on. This ensures they can get their questions answered and try to help their child to make decisions that could impact them for many years to come.