If your teenager has been arrested, you may be wondering whether or not hiring a lawyer to represent them is worth it. After all, the juvenile court is often far more forgiving than the adult criminal system. Most judges in juvenile court would prefer to keep teenagers out of juvenile detention centers, if possible. Despite that, the stakes are still quite high in juvenile court—a criminal record can affect your teenager's ability to get into a good college or to find employment, which makes hiring private counsel worth it. To learn three reasons why hiring a juvenile criminal lawyer to represent your teenager in court is a good idea, read on.
1. Criminal Charges Can Affect Your Teenager's Future
The most important reason to hire a juvenile criminal lawyer for your teenager is that it can help prevent criminal charges from being formally filed. The juvenile criminal justice system centers around rehabilitation and preventing future offenses. This is different from the criminal system for adults, which focuses mostly on punishment for crimes. Because of this, juvenile courts typically offer multiple options for teenagers to avoid formal charges and a criminal trial. For example, your teenager may be able to avoid being charged for a crime by attending mandatory counseling sessions or being placed on probation.
A juvenile criminal lawyer knows how the system works for juvenile offenders, and they'll attempt to divert the case and prevent charges from ever being filed. This is the best outcome for your teenager since criminal charges will follow them into their adult life. Even juvenile charges can make it difficult for people to find employment in certain professions, such as medicine or law enforcement. Hiring a juvenile criminal lawyer will help protect your teenager's future as they enter adulthood.
2. States Do a Poor Job Providing Juvenile Public Defenders
Juvenile offenders have the right to legal counsel regardless of their ability to pay, which is the same right that adults have in criminal court. However, states often fail to meet this obligation. Most importantly, few states will allow a juvenile offender to consult with a lawyer before any charges have been filed. As described above, this is the exact time where it's most important for your teenager to speak to a lawyer—avoiding court is always the safest option. While court-appointed juvenile public defenders perform an important service, relying on them won't give you the best chance of your teenager avoiding a criminal record.
3. Teenagers Often Don't Know How to Navigate Criminal Issues
Finally, teenagers are often intimidated by the legal system. A juvenile criminal lawyer can speak to your teenager and advise them on how to speak to the police and how to act in front of the judge. Some teenagers are so intimidated by the police that they'll confess to crimes that they didn't commit while they're being interviewed. A juvenile criminal defense lawyer can help your teenager avoid making this mistake by reviewing the known facts of the case and telling them exactly what they should share with the police.
Even though the juvenile criminal system is more lenient than the one for adults, it's still a good idea to seek legal representation for your teenager. If your teenager has been arrested, contact a juvenile criminal law professional in your area as soon as possible—the sooner the lawyer can speak to your teenager and begin to understand the facts of the case, the better chance they will have of avoiding a criminal record.Share