AZ Criminal Defense and Juvenile Crimes: What to Expect for Your Child

As a parent, it is scary to see your minor child arrested in Arizona. There are a lot of unknowns, and you fear for your child's future if he or she has to carry a criminal record into adulthood. For the most part, juvenile crimes are exactly the same crimes for which adults are tried. The main difference is that your child may be tried in juvenile court, which generally focuses more on rehabilitation. However, if the crime is serious enough, a child can still be tried in an adult court, with adult consequences.

Is it possible for my child to avoid going to court?

Fortunately, not every juvenile suspect is immediately handed to the court system. Police may decide to detain the child or refer the child to a court official who can decide how to handle the situation. At this stage, a decision is generally made to dismiss the case altogether, handle it "off the record," or go ahead and file formal charges.

Who can be tried in Arizona juvenile court?

While a juvenile is defined by most states as any individual under the age of 18, it's a bit more complicated when talking about Arizona juvenile crimes. In general, juvenile court applies to:
  • Any child over the age of 7: For the most part, children under the age of 7 are not considered to be capable of intent, and thus cannot be tried in any court. In some cases, however, the parents can be tried instead.
  • Any child between the ages of 7 and 15: Such an individual is generally a very good candidate for juvenile court, although it depends on the circumstances and severity of the crime.
  • Any child between the ages of 15 and 18: Such an individual may initially go through juvenile court, but it is becoming increasingly common for individuals in this age group to be transferred and tried as adults, especially for serious crimes.

What kind of outcome can I expect?

For more minor crimes, your child may be ordered to complete:
  • Community service
  • Probation
  • Counseling
  • Formal letter of apology

For more serious crimes, your child could be confined in a juvenile facility or be transferred to an adult court to be tried as an adult.

Ultimately, even if you go through juvenile courts, your child could still end up with a criminal record, which can negatively impact future educational and employment opportunities. Speaking with an experienced Phoenix juvenile offense lawyer as soon as possible can help protect your child's future. Give us a call today at 1-888-929-5292, and request a copy of our FREE legal book, Arizona Criminal Law - What You Must Know, which can help you make sense of what is happening.