Few things are more troubling to a parent than when their child has been charged with a juvenile crime. If your son or daughter has been accused of committing a crime and is under 18, they will be considered a juvenile in Virginia. Although your child will be tried as a juvenile, not an adult, his or her future may be jeopardized if your child is convicted.
Navigating the juvenile justice system in Virginia can be challenging. If your child has been charged with a crime, the skilled criminal defense attorneys at Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC are here to help. Discussing your child’s case with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney will help you pursue the best possible outcome. Contact Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC today to learn more about how we can help you and your child through Virginia’s juvenile justice system.
Types of Juvenile Crime Cases We Handle
The attorneys Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC have successfully represented juvenile clients in various criminal cases. Our attorneys are familiar with the unique procedures of the juvenile justice system in Virginia. We understand the system and provide juveniles and their parents with compassionate, competent legal support during a process that can be confusing and challenging.
Minors can be charged with a felony in Virginia, and if a minor is charged between the ages of 15 and 17, they may be tried as adults. Minors can be charged with the same crimes as adults but will be held responsible through a separate juvenile justice system. Some of the most commonly charged crimes include:
- Underage drinking or possession of alcohol
- Drug possession, including marijuana possession
- Gang violence
- Reckless driving and other traffic violations
- Shoplifting and other types of theft
- Criminal trespass
- Sexual assault
Possession of Marijuana By a Juvenile
Possession of marijuana is still a crime in Virginia. When a juvenile has been charged with possession of marijuana, the violation is considered a delinquent act with a maximum fine of $25 and a loss of driving privileges for six months. Juveniles can enter into a deferment of their marijuana possession charges, which is not an option for adults.
The Juvenile Justice Process
The juvenile justice process is different from the process for adults who’ve been charged with a crime. Generally, the child’s parent or guardian must be notified of the juvenile arrested before a law enforcement officer conducts a custodial interrogation. The child must have contact with his or her parent or guardian before being questioned about the alleged crime. However, there are some exceptions to this general rule. When a juvenile allegedly commits a criminal offense, he or she will enter the system through the juvenile county intake process.
An intake officer can take informal or formal action against the juvenile. Informal action involves placing the juvenile in counseling, a crisis shelter, or otherwise taking action that diverts the case away from the juvenile justice system. If the officer decides to take formal action, he or she must decide whether to detain the child or release the child to his or her guardians or parents. In most cases, juveniles will only be detained if they pose a risk to themselves or others or if there’s a chance they will flee.
The Adjudicatory and Dispositional Hearings
The next step is the adjudicator hearing. At this hearing, the child’s attorney can present testimony and witnesses. The prosecution can also present witnesses and evidence. At the end of the hearing, the judge will determine whether or not the child is guilty. If the judge determines that the child is guilty, he or she will have to attend a dispositional hearing. The case will be dismissed if the child is found not guilty.
Sanctions for Juvenile Crimes in Virginia
At the dispositional hearing, the judge will determine what sanctions the child will receive. Sanctions are similar to sentencing an adult criminal court case. Most judges avoid sending a child to the Department of Juvenile Justice. However, when the alleged crime involves violence, is a felony, or is another serious type of crime, the child may be evaluated and sent to a residential facility or a juvenile correctional center. Other types of sanctions include the following:
- High fines
- Community service
Will My Child’s Records Be Sealed or Remain Open?
Many parents are understandably worried about the consequences of their child having a criminal record. Juvenile charges, convictions, and records are not sealed immediately and will not be expunged from your child’s record. If your child has been convicted of a felony, it will remain on his or her record for the rest of his or her life.
Suppose your child has been convicted of a misdemeanor. In that case, the conviction will be administratively removed from his or her criminal record five years after the offense was committed and after turning 19 years old. Traffic offenses considered criminal charges, such as reckless driving or DUI, can remain on your child’s DMV record until he or she turns 29.
Appealing the Criminal Conviction of a Juvenile
Juveniles convicted of crimes in Virginia can appeal the judge’s decision. The experienced Virginia juvenile crimes attorneys at Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC can evaluate the decision and help you understand your legal options. If the judge’s initial decision was wrong, we can gather evidence to prove that the judge’s decision should be overturned.
Discuss Your Case with a Juvenile Crimes Attorney in Virginia
Knowing your child’s future is in jeopardy can be devastating as a parent. The attorneys at Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC understand the high stakes in juvenile criminal cases. We will thoroughly investigate your child’s case and develop an effective legal strategy.
Our defense attorneys have experience negotiating with prosecutors for the best outcome possible. We also have an in-depth understanding of the juvenile justice system, which is unique in Virginia. Contact Surovell Isaacs & Levy PLC today to schedule a free case evaluation and learn more about how we can protect your child’s rights.