If Your Child Has Been Arrested for a Juvenile Crime
By Seattle Juvenile Crime Lawyer Steve Karimi
If your child has been arrested for a juvenile crime, call Seattle criminal defense lawyer Steve Karimi for a free initial consultation.
In Washington, as in many other states, the immediate intervention by an experienced criminal defense lawyer can often prevent a matter from proceeding to juvenile court or minimize the potential serious consequences that can come from a juvenile detention. If you are a parent seeking to defend your minor child who has been accused of a crime, or one who wants to keep a conviction off your child's record, we hope that the brief overview of the Juvenile Justice System described below, will help alleviate some of your concerns regarding your child's arrest.
An Introduction to Washington State Juvenile Law
The Washington Juvenile Court System is designed to handle matters associated with juvenile law, called juvenile delinquency cases. Juvenile delinquency cases concern charges of a criminal law violation by a "minor" (defined as a person under the age of 18).
While the Washington adult correctional system was established with the goal of punishment, the juvenile justice system has a different goal: treatment and rehabilitation of juvenile offenders. Because of this, the state's juvenile justice system has a broad array of methods and programs for addressing juvenile crime, taking into account the severity of the offense and the background of the offender. These include fines, treatment programs, detention, incarceration, and community supervision. Generally, the system provides for escalating responses to offenses of increasing severity, such as informal probation, formal probation, detention, and incarceration. Additionally, because the system has a goal of rehabilitation, many more agencies have a role to play in Washington's Juvenile Justice System than in the adult system, including schools, social service agencies, and community-based organizations.
The Juvenile Justice System gives police, probation officials, and the Prosecuting Attorney's Office broad discretion over the treatment of juvenile offenders. Upon arrest, the police can release the juvenile to his or her parents or take the alleged offender to juvenile hall.
The state statutes allow that a minor can be transferred from juvenile court to the adult court and tried as adult in specified serious or violent cases, even if the minor is as young as 14. In most juvenile crime cases a judge will determine when it is appropriate to make such a transfer.
In the Juvenile Justice System, a minor has the same constitutional rights as an adult. For example, a minor is entitled to have their Miranda rights read to them, as would an adult. Furthermore, a minor may invoke their Miranda rights and not make any statement unless they have an attorney present. Also, although a minor may request to have their parents present before any questioning by law enforcement, the police are not required to inform a minor of this before taking a statement or interrogating the minor. It should be noted that school officials, teachers, and counselors do not have to advise a minor of his constitutional rights before questioning unless they are doing so at the direction of the police.
Potential Consequences for Minors Accused of Crimes
A minor accused of a juvenile crime should retain a criminal defense lawyer for all proceedings in the juvenile court. Your juvenile crime attorney may ask the court to enter the minor into a diversion program, whereupon the successful completion of a probation period would result in the case being dismissed. If a case were to go to trial, a minor is not entitled to a jury trial in juvenile court, only to an "Adjudication" (trial) in front of a judge. Though the burden of proof is the same for a minor in juvenile court as it is in adult court, that is, proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the minor committed the crime; the family of a minor accused of a crime should always consult with a juvenile crime lawyer as the consequences can be serious and life-lasting. Also, if your child has a conviction for a crime on your record, you may seek a juvenile crime lawyer to petition the court to seal and vacate that conviction. Expungement, or keeping a conviction off the record, is as if the conviction never existed, and one is allowed to report it as such on application for school, employment or military enlistment.
Parents frequently ask about the risk factors associated with increased criminal activity and how to focus on effective intervention. Prevention-oriented programs show promise of significantly reducing repeat offenses.
Factors that increase the likelihood that a juvenile will engage in criminal activity include:
- Poor academic performance, poor attendance, expulsion, or dropping out of school is associated with higher rates of juvenile crime.
- Family problems, including sexual or physical abuse, neglect, a history of criminal activity by a family member, and abandonment are associated with higher rates of juvenile crime. Family problems also indicate a lack of parental control.
- Substance abuse, including arrests for drug or alcohol possession or sale, and the impact of substance abuse on juvenile behavior are associated with higher rates of juvenile crime. Alcohol or drug use can lower a person's inhibitions, making it easier to engage in criminal activity, and drug users may engage in criminal activities to obtain money to purchase drugs.
- Gang membership, especially at an early age, is strongly associated with future criminal activity.
- Gun possession is a factor that "magnifies" juvenile crime by making offenses more likely to result in injury or death.
- Other risk factors include juveniles from single parent households, behavior and conduct problems, poverty, and early sexual experience.
It is important to note that these risk factors do not guarantee criminal behavior, but simply are associated with higher risk of such behavior. Because young offenders who exhibit multiple risk factors are the most likely to become chronic recidivists -- "career criminals" -- early intervention strategies that address these factors could reduce the rates of future criminal activity.
"Let My Extensive Experience as a Former Prosecutor Work For You."
Seattle juvenile crime lawyer Steve Karimi has had the opportunity to defend many minors accused of a crime in Washington. Steve Karimi's experience as a former prosecutor can be put to work on behalf of your child. To defend your minor accused of crime please call or contact Seattle juvenile crime lawyer Steve Karimi. You'll get an experienced criminal defense lawyer who will do whatever it takes to get a favorable outcome for his clients.
* Representing people charged with juvenile crimes in King County, Washington state, including Seattle, Bellevue, Everett and Snohomish.