When children or teenagers experience trouble with the law, an attorney with experience in the juvenile system can help you manage the unique procedures and mitigate potential negative consequences.
With more than 40 years of combined courtroom experience, the attorneys at McKinney & Malapit Law can help you navigate the juvenile justice system, from initial intake through disposition, ensuring sure your child’s rights are protected at all times.
Help in All Phases
Legal cases for children under 18 years of age consist of several phases. After being arrested or detained by law enforcement, it is to your child’s advantage to hire as soon as possible a lawyer who knows the juvenile system. Intervention by a skilled advocate at any of these phases can be beneficial to your child.
Phase 1 – If your child is arrested, they must be brought to a detention hearing in front of the juvenile magistrate within 48 hours (excluding weekends and holidays). The attorneys at McKinney & Malapit Law may be able to get your child released and back home at this hearing.
Phase 2 – The second phase consists of a review by the probation officer to determine if a delinquency referral is appropriate. If a referral is made, the prosecuting attorney then reviews the case to determine if a petition alleging delinquency should be filed.
Phase 3 – If the prosecutor determines a petition should be filed, the case enters the third phase. Here, the juvenile will have an initial hearing where they will be advised of their rights and a placement review will be conducted to determine if the change in placement might be necessary. The Court will ask for an admission or denial to the allegation(s). There are many things to consider and evaluate BEFORE this decision is ever made. It should never be made without full understanding of all the implications.
Phase 4 – The next phase depends on whether the juvenile admitted they were delinquent or denied the allegation. If the child admitted, the next step is disposition. This is similar to a sentencing hearing in adult court. For minor offenses or first-time offenders, the Court may be willing to withhold judgment and refer the case back to informal probation status. It is critical that the best case is presented for your child at this hearing in order to obtain the best possible outcome.
If a denial was entered, your child will have a fact-finding hearing, or bench trial, before the juvenile magistrate. Witnesses will be subpoenaed, evidence will be presented, and the judge will decide on the guilt or innocence (delinquent or not) of your child. A determination of delinquency will then lead to the disposition hearing described previously.