Juvenile Crimes Attorney in St. Louis, Missouri
Most parents do their best to raise children who abide by the rules. They teach them right from wrong and to respect others. Try as they may, parents sometimes get that dreaded call that their child has been arrested or taken into custody on a delinquency charge. Kids sometimes break the rules or spend time with other kids who do, suffering some degree of guilt by association.
If you have received that call, you are probably worried, angry, and defensive. You hope it’s all a mistake and you will simply pick them up and take them home. However, children sometimes get themselves into trouble which may result in penalties far greater than you grounding them or taking their cell phones away for a while. When they get crosswise with the law, your child needs a criminal defense attorney to represent them.
At The Law Office Gregory N. Smith, I represent both adults and children who are arrested for committing crimes. The courts treat them differently in all but the most serious crimes. That is why children need an attorney who understands and has worked in both the adult and juvenile court systems. If your child has been arrested for juvenile delinquency crime in St. Louis, in St. Charles, St. Louis, or Jefferson counties in Missouri, or in East St. Louis, I can help.
What Constitutes Juvenile Delinquency in Missouri?
Juvenile delinquency under Missouri law is the commission of an act by a child under the age of 17 which if committed by someone age 17 or older would constitute a crime. Your child could be arrested for a juvenile crime and subject to the juvenile court process.
Examples of juvenile crimes would include physically assaulting someone or shoplifting. In Missouri, many automobile moving violations constitute crimes, not infractions. Therefore, your 16-year-old could be arrested on a juvenile delinquency charge for running a red light or driving five or more miles over the speed limit.
What does not constitute juvenile delinquency in Missouri are what are referred to as “status offenses.” These are actions that would not constitute a crime if committed by an adult but are violations. Examples include skipping school (truancy), running away from home, or throwing a temper tantrum.
What Happens After My Child Is Arrested for Juvenile Delinquency?
If your child is arrested or detained for a crime, they will be taken to a non-adult detention center. You will be notified, and for most offenses, your child will be released into your custody. If, however, your child poses a threat to themselves or others, they may be detained in a juvenile facility.
Your child will face either an informal adjustment or adjudication. Informal adjustment is typically used when children commit minor offenses. They are counseled and warned to not violate the law in the future.
Adjudication is the juvenile court process. First, the court holds a hearing to determine whether the allegations against the child are true. If so, the court holds a dispositional hearing later to render punishment for the delinquency crime.
You should know that your child has the right to remain silent and to have an attorney present during questioning, just as adults do. They have the right to have you present as well. More importantly, you should know that your child has the right to waive their rights, including the right for you to be present. It is wise to encourage your child to allow a criminal defense attorney experienced with the juvenile court to represent them.
When Can a Juvenile Be Tried as an Adult?
Typically, a child must be at least 12 years old and charged with a felony to undergo a certification proceeding to determine if they should be tried as an adult. However, in Missouri, children of any age can be tried as adults if they are charged with serious and violent felonies, including first- or second-degree murder, forcible rape or sodomy, first-degree assault or robbery, or distribution of drugs. They can also be certified as adults if they have been convicted of two or more prior felonies.
The certification hearing can make the difference whether your child stands trial in an adult court, subject to a public proceeding and public criminal record, and to the penalties of an adult convicted of a felony. If their adjudication is handled in juvenile court, the proceedings and outcome are confidential and the penalties far less severe. An experienced criminal defense attorney can make a significant difference in the potential outcome.
Am I Liable if My Child Commits a Crime?
Parental liability in Missouri does exist. Parents can be financially — although not criminally — liable if their child is convicted of a crime. The burden of financial liability, such as in restitution or a personal injury claim, may be imposed on parents if the court determines the parent did not exercise reasonable authority or discipline that would have prevented the crime or damage from occurring.
If a parent is deemed financially liable in such a case, the maximum responsibility is $4,000 under Missouri law.
Juvenile Crimes Attorney Serving St. Louis, Missouri
Children make mistakes and sometimes, those mistakes break the law. Once they are involved in the legal system, they need more than what you, as a parent, can provide. They need experienced, skilled criminal defense. If your child needs a compassionate attorney to develop a rigorous defense for a juvenile crime in St. Louis, Missouri, and the surrounding areas, don’t delay. Call The Law Office of Gregory N. Smith right now.