No one wants to see their child get into trouble but in Virginia minors can be charged with criminal offenses just like adults. Every year hundreds of minors are arrested and prosecuted for various crimes. These can include simple misdemeanors like shoplifting, reckless driving, assault or possession of marijuana. They can also include more serious felonies like burglary, robbery or sexual assault. Each case will start with the child being served with a petition that lists the charge against him or her. When served with this paperwork the child could be arrested or just summonsed to appear in court on a certain day.
If your child is arrested or asked to appear in court you must talk to an attorney as soon as possible. Each criminal charge can also have significant consequences when it comes to school. Your child might be suspended from school or asked to leave their home school and attend an alternative program. These school consequences will be separate and apart from the court matters. You will need someone to walk you through both.
The main goal of the Juvenile Justice System is rehabilitation. The Courts want to make sure that your child, if guilty of a crime, has learned from his or her mistake and will not do it again. Most children have one experience in the court system and that is enough to deter them from future criminal conduct. However, those children who have repeated contacts with the Juvenile Justice System can expect to be punished harsher. This can include spending time in a juvenile detention center.
If your child is charged with a serious offense like robbery, sexual assault or a weapons offense, the prosecutors could elect to have your child tried as an adult. This means he or she would be eligible for adult punishments if found guilty. These requests by the prosecutor are called certifications. You want to avoid having your child certified as an adult if at all possible. Your child’s future is at stake every time he or she steps into the courtroom. Call us so that we can help walk you through every step of the process.