- Belen Olmedo Guerra is a criminal defense attorney in Phoenix, Arizona with experience in juvenile criminal defense
- In Phoenix, minors over the age of 13 and under the age of 17 can be tried in the juvenile court system if they are charged with a crime
Juvenile law is a complex and occasionally controversial area of the law, according to attorney Belen Olmedo Guerra. Juvenile offenses depend almost entirely on the particulars of each individual case. Minors between the age of 13 and 17 can be tried in the juvenile court system for status offenses and delinquent acts. Status offenses are usually less serious than delinquent acts, but all brushes with the juvenile justice system can have a lasting effect on a child. Belen Olmedo Guerra believes she can put together a criminal defense strategy that will result in the best possible outcome for your child.
“In Arizona, minors between the ages of 13 and 17 can be charged with status offenses and delinquent acts,” says Belen. She explains that status offenses are not typically very serious. “They’re crimes that would not be crimes if that child were an adult.”
Belen explains that status offenses can include alcohol-related crimes, underage drinking and driving, underage smoking, and other minor crimes related to the child’s age.
“Delinquent offenses are a little more serious,” Belen says. Delinquent acts are criminal offenses that would still be crimes even if the minor were an adult. These are the crimes that may result in harsh penalties and have a lasting impact on the child’s future.
Juvenile courts in Arizona have penalties similar to penalties in adult courts. However, juvenile courts focus more on rehabilitation than incarceration and punishment. According to Belen, some of the more common penalties are probation, fines, community service, and time in a juvenile correction facility. The hope of juvenile courts and lawmakers in Arizona is that these efforts will prevent the child from reoffending or becoming offenders in their adult lives. Parents and guardians can face fines and other penalties for their child’s offense as well.
If your child is old enough, they can even be tried as an adult, in adult courts. “Typically this is reserved for more serious crimes committed by older minors,” says Belen. Prosecutors may ask to try a minor as an adult in crimes that receive a lot of public attention. “Your child will absolutely need an attorney then. But it is always best to have the advice of an attorney from the beginning. Don’t let the situation get out of control before you seek legal counsel.”
Belen Olmedo Guerra is an experienced and esteemed criminal defense attorney in the Phoenix area. She has plenty of experience in juvenile courts and hopes to provide an honest and compassionate defense to all of her clients. To speak to someone at the Belen Law Firm, call 602.715.0908. You can also contact us directly on Belen’s website to begin scheduling a free and confidential initial consultation.