The juvenile needs the assistance of counsel to cope with problems of law, to make skilled inquiry into the facts, to insist upon regularity of the proceedings, and to ascertain whether he has a defense and to prepare and submit it. The child requires the guiding hand of counsel at every step in the proceedings against him.
Application of Gault, 387 U.S. 1 (1967)
A juvenile delinquency proceeding is serious and can impact the choices you have in the future and for the rest of your life. When the stakes are this high, you need a legal advocate in court to be your voice, to negotiate on your behalf, to fight in your defense, and most importantly to explain and ensure understanding of every choice you have to make. A juvenile, like an adult, has constitutional and statutory rights that must be evaluated, explained, and litigated in court at detention hearings, suppression hearings, and trials.
If a juvenile is adjudicated at trial or because of a plea, the Court’s sentencing options include probation and fines, but also can include transfer of legal custody to the Department of Human Services for placement in foster care or commitment to the Division of Youth Corrections, which operates secure facilities like prisons, but for youth.
But even beyond the Court’s options at sentencing, juveniles adjudicated delinquent may face suspension or expulsion from school, may lose their job or the ability to get certain kinds of jobs, and may be ineligible to join the United States military. An adjudication or conviction could result in losing public benefits from the government, such as public housing or food stamps, and may result in the permanent loss of the right to possess a firearm. Some offenses may require a juvenile to register as a sex offender. These are just a few of the consequences that may occur, and a lawyer will make sure that you know your rights, options, and can make informed decisions in your case. Please access this link to see a complete explanation of all of the consequences that can occur in a juvenile adjudication.