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Understanding the Consequences of Juvenile Crimes

By: the Law Office of Michael Mirer, P.A.

While many people believe that the juvenile criminal justice system is a much simpler, more lenient process to endure, those who have been convicted as minors can contest otherwise. If your underage child has been charged with any type of crime, now is the time to learn more about the rights that you have and the help you can pursue.

What is a juvenile crime? As an umbrella term encompassing all types of criminal offenses committed by a person under the age of 18 (or under the age of 21 in cases of DUI), juvenile crimes are sometimes considered to be much more serious that an adult criminal charge. Why are these charges so severe? Oftentimes, the prosecutors or even Child Protective Services will become involved and point fingers at the parents of the children, placing blame on their parenting skills or labeling the child with some type of psychological disorder. Unfortunately, these criminal charges often stem from a place of misunderstanding or simply a lapse in judgment by the underage individual. Consequently, many minors and their families are facing serious criminal consequences for a crime they did not commit, or did not mean to commit.

There are many different types of juvenile offenses that are commonly seen throughout the country, ranging from drunk driving to the possession of drugs, shoplifting to auto theft, or driving without a license to gang-related activity. A person under the age of 18, or a minor, can be charged with virtually all of the same charges that an adult may be charged with. For the child, however, it is likely to have a larger and more consequential impact on their life.

Some of the most serious consequences that are associated with juvenile crimes don’t truly begin until after the sentence has been served. Whether the minor is forced to sit out the sentence in a youth detention center, sometimes referred to as juvenile hall or juvie, placed on probation or house arrest, or sentenced to community service, it is likely that the charges will follow around this individual for a lifetime. In most juvenile crime cases, these minors are being sentenced with large fines to pay and court fees to cover. What happens when the child is unable to pay for these large monetary sums? The parent of the child is relied upon to make up the difference. Now, instead of just affecting the juvenile, the parent has been forced to dig into their hard-earned money to pay for their child’s mistakes.

Another common form of punishment that is handed out by criminal courts all across the nation is driver’s license suspension or the delay of one’s ability to obtain a driver’s license. This is seen in many more cases than just an underage DUI; minors can face license suspension for drug crimes and traffic tickets. Once this consequence has been enforced, the child must rely on his or her parents or others once again to get from Point A to Point B. While this may not seem like a heavy burden, it can force a parent to leave work at odd hours of the day to take a child to and from school, or virtually anywhere else.

After the sentence has been served, the license has been reinstated, and the fines have been paid, there are still consequences to come in a juvenile’s future. Even after the minor has reached the age of 18 will he or she be faced with discrimination due to this conviction. When applying for college, the admissions office may require an individual to submit to a simple background check, as certain colleges are very exclusive in their admissions process. Any person found to have a criminal history – even just an arrest – may be denied from this school. Without the opportunity to attend college, this individual may then pursue employment. Unfortunately, most employers will screen their potential new hires for criminal history, as this can be viewed as a negative trait in an employee. The individual who has been convicted as a juvenile will continue to face this type of discrimination throughout his or her life.

There is legal action to prevent a minor from facing these unattractive penalties. First and foremost, it is vitally important that an attorney is retained. Legal counsel will be the first and last line of defense before the case goes to court. The stronger the defense for the minor is, the better chance he or she may have to avoid these serious penalties. If you have already been convicted as a juvenile, however, you may be able to wipe this criminal history clean from your juvenile record through expungement or a sealing of the record. This can put an end to the discrimination you have faced throughout your childhood and into early adulthood after the conviction.