It is crucial to be in contact with a juvenile delinquency attorney as soon as possible when your child is arrested for a crime. A juvenile has the right to an attorney and the right to remain silent, just like an adult.
Each county in Alabama handles juvenile delinquency cases in family courts. After a child is arrested, he or she is held for a “shelter care” hearing. At this hearing the court decides whether the child has a family member who can supervise the child pending trial. If no suitable adult is found, a child may be placed into the custody of the Alabama Department of Youth Services. Depending on the juvenile’s record he or she may be held in a detention center until trial. After the shelter care hearing, the child is generally assigned a probation officer. The probation officer will monitor the child during the case and may require the child to submit to random drug and alcohol tests.
Alabama generally treats juvenile delinquency cases as social work cases. Social workers and probation officers investigate the child’s history and situation and make recommendations to judges about the case. Many times those recommendations become the final decisions. Although the State is supposed to have the child’s best interest at heart, many times kids who made mistakes or who were just involved with the wrong friends get caught up in a legal system where, once in, it is hard to get out. An experienced juvenile delinquency attorney will advocate for different and better options for your child.
Juvenile Delinquency Punishments
Juvenile delinquency proceedings are sealed, which means the records are confidential. The records are not public information and should not appear on background checks; however they will be able to be seen by law enforcement and other courts. One can usually rest easy that these records will not affect job or college applications.
Juvenile delinquency punishments include “after-care” programs, probation, community service, detention at Department of Youth Services (DYS) facilities, mandatory counseling, and payment of court costs, fines and restitution. Although a person is considered an “adult” at age 19 in Alabama, the juvenile courts retain jurisdiction until a convicted child is 21 years old. A child can be sentenced to a youth detention center through that age. It is extremely important to have a juvenile delinquency attorney who can guide you through the system and find the best possible outcome for your child or loved one.
The Alabama Code sections on Juvenile Delinquency Cases can be found in the following link: JD Court.