If your child has been charged with a crime, you are likely feeling a variety of competing emotions. It is normal to feel ashamed, overwhelmed and anxious about your child’s future. While you should take the charges against your son or daughter seriously, you do not have to fight them alone.
With the assistance of an experienced juvenile defense attorney in Grand Rapids, most minor defendants will not have to spend any time in jail, even if they are unable to have the charges against them dropped. As even one youthful mistake can shut out opportunities in your child’s academic and professional future, it is not worth the risk of going through the juvenile justice system without experienced legal help.
Grand Rapids juvenile crimes lawyers have successfully defended minors facing many different charges and will assist your family in fighting for your child’s future with understanding and compassion.
When someone under the age of 17 is charged with a criminal offense in Michigan, their case will be determined by the Family Court Division of the Circuit Court, sometimes referred to as “juvenile court.”
The juvenile justice system has its own set of rules and laws that apply to minor defendants, making the assistance of an experienced juvenile defense attorney invaluable. While certain serious felony charges can result in a minor’s case being transferred to the adult criminal justice system, most minors facing criminal charges will have their cases adjudicated entirely within the juvenile court system.
Within the juvenile system, rehabilitative and alternative programs to traditional punishments such as prison sentences are often available to first-time offenders. With the help of an experienced defense attorney, many minor defendants can avoid jail time entirely by taking advantage of these programs, although they may have to serve community service or spend time on probation.
A Grand Rapids juvenile crimes attorney has experience defending minors against several crimes, including the following charges most often brought against young people:
Some of the most common types of crimes faced by minor defendants involve underage drinking. It is illegal for a minor to purchase or consume an alcoholic beverage in Michigan. Further, under Michigan’s zero tolerance law, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to operate a motor vehicle with any amount of alcohol in their system, even if they are below the legal limit.
A first offense DUI charge for a minor defendant could result in up to 360 hours of community service, and a fine of up to $250. The penalties for repeat offenders are more severe, and typically include jail time.
Most minors accused of a crime in Michigan will be tried within the juvenile justice system. In rare cases involving serious crimes a minor may be tried as an adult, but typically the penalties which underage offenders face are less serious than those reserved for adults charged with criminal acts. Nonetheless, a delinquency offense can have lasting consequences on a young person’s future.
Although a juvenile adjudication is not the same as a criminal conviction, it can still restrict a minor’s access to employment, licensing, or higher education. In addition, minor offenders will have to overcome social stigma that comes with being an adjudicated delinquent.
With the help of an experienced juvenile defense lawyer in Grand Rapids, many common minor charges can be successfully diminished, or even dismissed. Most first-time juvenile defendants who have the benefit of experienced legal representation can avoid jail time entirely.
If your child has been accused of a crime in the Grand Rapids area, you must think not only about the immediate consequences of the criminal charges they are facing but also about the effects a criminal conviction could have on their future.
With so much on the line, you need to obtain experienced legal help to give your child the best possible chance of dismissing the charges against them. Do not let one mistake negatively affect the rest of your child’s life.