Phoenix Juvenile Defense Attorney

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Arizona Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyer

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We were all kids once, and we all know how easy it is to make a careless mistake at that age. Whether it was an act influenced by peer pressure, heat-of-the-moment emotions, or simply the misjudgment of a brain that is not yet fully developed, kids make irrational decisions all the time. Unfortunately, sometimes they make them at the wrong place and at the wrong time and can find themselves facing serious criminal charges.

In Arizona, minors who commit a criminal offense are prosecuted in the juvenile justice system. If a child is found guilty of a crime in juvenile court, they may be sentenced to serious penalties, including probation, fines and restitution, community service, and even potentially jail time at a juvenile correctional center. These consequences can be heavy, especially for a child. Though it is certainly one way to learn a lesson, they shouldn’t have to suffer such harsh penalties for a stupid mistake. 

If your child is facing juvenile charges in Arizona, it’s crucial that you contact an experienced juvenile crimes attorney as soon as possible. At Belén Law Firm, our Phoenix criminal defense attorneys are highly experienced in juvenile law as well as Arizona law as a whole. We know how to navigate these situations carefully and with your child’s best interest at the forefront of our minds. For a free consultation with one of our Phoenix juvenile criminal defense attorneys, call Belén Law Firm at 602-715-0908 today.

Delinquent Act vs. Juvenile Crime

When children are accused of committing crimes, they are often handled much differently than adults. In many situations, the juvenile offense may be labeled as a “status offense.” This typically encompasses things like truancy, failure to heed parental orders, runaways, certain behavioral difficulties, or activities that, while not criminal in nature, are illegal when done by a child. Other times, juveniles may commit offenses that are, in fact, criminal in nature — regardless of the age of the perpetrator. These transgressions may be referred to as “delinquent acts” rather than crimes.

What is an Incorrigibility Crime?

As mentioned, there are certain crimes that are unique to juvenile offenders. One of them is what is called “incorrigibility.” As a minor child does not possess the same legal rights as an adult, they are expected to comply to orders given by legal custodians. A legal custodian may be anyone from a parent or guardian to a school teacher. Of course, this only pertains to lawful and reasonable orders. 

A minor child who refuses to obey authority or comply with these lawful orders may be considered “incorrigible.” Incorrigibility is far more than just a few tantrums. Under Arizona law,  an incorrigible juvenile is typically one who is “truant, runaway, refuses to obey a parent or guardian, violates curfew, or smokes cigarettes” (ARS § 8-201). 

What Age is a Juvenile in AZ?

When a minor commits a delinquent act in the state of Arizona, they are subject to the laws of Arizona’s juvenile courts. The juvenile court in Arizona has jurisdiction over minors until they reach the age of eighteen, which is the age of consent in Arizona. That means anyone between the ages of 14-17 years of age is considered a juvenile.

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Arizona Juvenile Laws

When a child faces criminal charges while they are still considered a minor, they are at the discretion of juvenile law. Arizona’s juvenile laws are similar to those in the adult judicial system, but they do vary in some ways. For example, while the adult criminal system tends to focus primarily on punitive efforts like incarceration, the juvenile system works more towards solutions that are more rehabilitative in nature.

Title 8, Chapters 2 & 3 of the Arizona Revised Statutes contains information regarding juvenile court proceedings as well as state laws affecting juvenile offenders. In Chapter 2, which concerns Arizona’s juvenile court, you’ll find articles involving:

  1. General Provisions
  2. General Procedure
  3. Juvenile Hearings
  4. Dispositions and Commitment
  5. Family Counseling Programs
  6. Children’s Mental Health Services
  7. Juvenile Competency

Additionally, there are seven articles in this legislation that deal specifically with juvenile offenders, including:

  1. General Procedures for Delinquency and Incorrigibility Proceedings
  2. Delinquency and Alcohol Offense Complaints and Hearings
  3. Disposition and Commitment
  4. Juvenile Intensive Probation
  5. Interstate Compact for Juveniles
  6. Educational Rehabilitation
  7. Victim’s Rights for Juvenile Offenses

Types of Juvenile Offenses

Just because someone is young does not mean they won’t commit crimes. It also certainly doesn’t prevent them from being penalized for those crimes. Some juvenile crimes are particular to the child’s age, which we noted earlier as “status offenses.” Other crimes are the same as those any adult might commit. These are known as “delinquent acts.” Perhaps the most common delinquent acts that our Arizona criminal defense attorneys see involve the following offenses:

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Juvenile Crime Punishment in Arizona

If your child is found to be guilty of a crime under the Arizona juvenile justice system, there are a variety of penalties and punishments that he or she may face. These punishments can include anything from performing community service, paying fines and reparations, serving intensive probation, and serving jail time in a juvenile correctional facility. Some consequences may be more severe than others, depending on the details surrounding the offense. 

In adult criminal law trials, the issue of guilt or innocence is generally decided by a jury. This is not the case when it comes to juvenile crimes. Instead, a judge alone decides the ruling in juvenile proceedings. There is generally no mandatory sentencing in these cases, and most juveniles who are charged with delinquency are eligible for what is known as “pre-filing diversion.” These are programs that are designed to keep juveniles from repeating the same mistakes, although not without some consequences (community services, reparations, counseling, etc.).

Can a Juvenile Be Charged with a Felony?

Under ARS § 13-501, any juvenile between the ages of 14 and 17 may receive felony criminal charges at the adult level if they commit certain serious crimes. Likewise, if they have a previous felony-level charge on their record, a felony charge may be warranted. It is typically at the judge’s discretion whether juvenile defendants will be tried at the adult level or not. Some of the offenses that may surpass the juvenile justice system include violent crimes such as:

So, depending on the severity of the crime and whether or not they are considered a “chronic felony offender,” it is possible that your child may be tried as an adult and receive a felony charge on their record. However, while there are circumstances in which juveniles can be prosecuted and tried as adults, the number of situations in which juvenile offenses are dealt with by the adult criminal justice system seems to be diminishing. This is great news, but it doesn’t negate the importance of a talented juvenile defense attorney. In any case, you will want to consider all of the consequences of the alleged juvenile crime that was committed and consider working with an esteemed and experienced juvenile criminal defense attorney, such as Belén Olmedo Guerra, who may be able to significantly lessen your child’s penalties.

Juvenile Misdemeanor Punishment

Depending on the severity of the offense and whether your child has any priors on their record, they may be looking at any of the following consequences:

  • Community Service
  • Probation
  • Fines and Restitution
  • Juvenile Correctional Facility (Juvie) Confinement

Juvenile Felony Punishment

If your child is tried and convicted at the adult level for a felony offense, they face the same penalties as any adult would. For some of the more serious Arizona felonies, including acts of violence that end in homicide, your child could be serving time anywhere from a few months to over 20 years in jail. This is why it is so important that minors facing felony charges get the best juvenile criminal defense lawyer possible on their side. It can make all the difference when it comes to  your child’s future. 

Phoenix Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyer

What To Do if Your Child is Facing Criminal Charges

As we mentioned before, there are a number of differences when it comes to prosecuting an adult criminal case and prosecuting a juvenile one. The nature of the charges, the regulations, the penalties, and the entire judicial system are all different. However, while the juvenile justice system differs from that of adults in many respects, minors still possess the right to obtain a defense attorney.

Our Arizona juvenile defense lawyers at work hard to offer the finest legal counsel to children and their families. We also defend juveniles in detention hearings, evidentiary hearings, trials, and probation violation hearings. We work hard to secure our clients a dismissed case, reduced sentence, suspension of prosecution, or placement in alternative rehabilitation programs.

If your child has been arrested and is facing delinquency charges, a status offense, or has been taken into custody, contact Phoenix juvenile crimes attorney Belén Olmedo Guerra right away. She can help you understand what rights your child has, as well as your own rights as a parent or guardian. She offers honest, compassionate legal guidance and skilled representation throughout your child’s case and the entire legal process.

How Much Does a Juvenile Lawyer Cost?

We know you can’t put a price tag on your child’s future, but it is helpful to know how much you may be looking at spending on a defense lawyer. The truth is, it is difficult to provide an exact price point of how much you can expect a criminal defense lawyer’s services to cost, as there are a number of variables that determine the final price. Every attorney, state, and case is different and relies on its own unique circumstances, especially cases involving juvenile crime. It also depends on whether your attorney bills by the hour or by the case and if they require a retainer up-front. Given this, costs for criminal defense attorneys could start anywhere from a few hundred dollars and scale up to tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Criminal Defense Attorney for Juvenile Crimes in Arizona

When a minor is charged with a criminal offense, the resulting consequences can be grave. Don’t let one reckless mistake can define the rest of your child’s life. You need experienced legal counsel on your side for the best chance at reducing the potential penalties they are facing and minimizing any potential damage to their future.  This requires the help of a skilled Phoenix juvenile crimes attorney like Belén Olmedo Guerra.

Belén is a renowned trial attorney with years of experience handling cases in juvenile law and other criminal defense matters in the Phoenix area. She knows what to expect in juvenile court and can help create a strong defense for your child. For a free consultation or to establish a formal attorney-client relationship, call the Belén Law Firm at 602-715-0908 or contact us online as soon as possible. Day or night, we are available for you with 24/7 legal advice.

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