Has your child been charged with a delinquent act in the State of Alabama? You don't have to allow a youthful indiscretion to ruin the rest of their life. You should consult an experienced juvenile defense attorney as soon as you know that a formal petition for your child's detention has been filed with the court. We can ensure that your child's rights are protected.
Juvenile Criminal Offenses
The criminal justice system for juveniles is significantly different in Alabama than the one for adults. Criminal acts committed by children are not considered as serious as those committed by their adult counterparts. A juvenile criminal offense is termed a “delinquent act” and is undertaken by a “delinquent child.” For the purposes of the law, this terminology is applied by the court to those offenders who are eighteen or younger as well as those who are under twenty-one but committed the alleged delinquent act before their eighteenth birthday. In juvenile justice cases the youthful offender may also be classified as “a child in need of supervision (CHINS).” A CHINS, unlike a delinquent, has done something that would not be considered a crime if undertaken by an adult, such as habitual truancy or running away from home.
For more information regarding juvenile offenses and how we can help, call (256) 705-0200. As dedicated juvenile offense advocates, it is our mission to protect the future of our youth.
Whether or not an alleged CHINS or delinquent is released to their guardians or parents following their initial detention, the charges will eventually proceed to the juvenile's trial. Unlike an adult's criminal defense trial, a juvenile trial, or adjudication, is a fairly private affair. The public is not permitted to observe the adjudication and there is no jury. Besides the judge and the child offender, the other parties present may be the child's juvenile defense attorney, the child's parents or guardians, the victims, and the district attorney. When the hearing commences, the judge will ask the delinquent whether they admit or deny the allegations against them, much like in an arraignment concerning a criminal charge. If the juvenile and their attorney deny the allegations, the adjudication proceeds. Following the testimony of witnesses, the judge can decide either that the facts of the case are true or not. In the former case, the petition will be dismissed. If the judge upholds the facts of the case, however, the case proceeds to the disposition hearing, which is similar to the sentencing stage of an adult criminal defense trial.
At the disposition hearing, the judge can decide what rehabilitative measures best suit the child's needs. She may require that the delinquent or CHINS submits to some kind of community service, goes on probation, compensates victims with restitution payments, or serves time in the Department of Youth Services. Should the delinquent act concerned be one that would be classified as a violent felony if committed by an adult, the child will receive a mandatory minimum of one year serving in the DYS. In any case, by partnering with an aggressive juvenile justice attorney, you stand the best chance of either having the case against your child dismissed or tempering the outcome of a disposition hearing. We know what you are going through.