Depending on the seriousness of the offense, a criminal conviction (juvenile crime), although it is called a delinquency, can have a devastating impact on a child’s future. Juveniles can be charged with all of the same crimes as adults and are frequently subject to many of the same penalties. If your child has been charged with any type of crime, contact an experienced defense attorney immediately.
Generally speaking, juvenile crimes are crimes committed by individuals under the age of eighteen. Adolescents have received special and separate treatment with respect to criminal law statutes for centuries. However, as a social phenomenon, the juvenile justice system is a relatively modern institution that has come to prominence only within the last 100 years or so.
States differ slightly as to what they deem a juvenile or an adult under their individual statues. In some states, a juvenile is considered to be anyone under the age of seventeen. In others, the age is sixteen or below. And still in others, the legal age of adulthood is 18 or over. In Virginia courts, a juvenile is considered a person under the age of 18. However, the court is allowed to extend the jurisdiction if needed until the person is 21.
The juvenile justice system is a special part of the larger justice system that deals with matters related to juveniles and has its own set of laws and procedures that govern how juveniles are treated. The “system” includes not only Juvenile and Domestic Relations (J & DR) District Courts but also law enforcement, detention facilities, programs that serve juvenile offenders, and juvenile correctional facilities.
The Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) has primary responsibility for Virginia’s system of juvenile justice services. Within each Virginia community, DJJ works with law enforcement officers, mental health services providers, schools, social services, and other agencies to meet the needs of juvenile offenders, their families, and communities.
When a juvenile is found to be delinquent according to Code of Virginia § 16.1-278.8 the judge may, depending on the circumstances, do one of the following:
- defer disposition and dismiss the charge if the juvenile behaves;
- impose conditions and limitations on the juvenile and his or her parents;
- order the juvenile and/or parents to participate in programs and/or treatment;
- place the juvenile in custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice to attend a boot camp or other juvenile correctional facility;
- place the juvenile in a local detention home;
- place the juvenile on probation under conditions prescribed by the court;
- impose a fine of up to $500;
- suspend the juvenile’s driver’s license or delay issuing it;
- require the juvenile to make restitution for damages;
- require the juvenile to participate in community service; and/or
- transfer legal custody to a relative, a child welfare agency, or a local board of social services.
Do not panic. Contact an experienced attorney to help find resolution for your case.
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