Juvenile Offenses Attorney in Phoenix, AZ

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In Arizona, minors who commit crimes 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, such as probation, fines and restitution, community service, and even potentially time spent in a juvenile correctional center. If your child is facing juvenile charges in Arizona, it’s crucial that you contact an experienced Phoenix juvenile crimes attorney immediately.

Arizona Juvenile Laws

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. 

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. (That is, from youth up until their 18th birthday.) 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

Arizona Juvenile Justice System

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

In adult criminal trials, the issue of guilt or innocence is generally decided by a jury. This is not the case in the juvenile justice system. 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.).

It is possible, however, that your child may be tried as an adult, depending on the severity of the crime. Some of the crimes that may surpass the juvenile justice system include offenses such as:

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 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.

What is a Juvenile Crime in Arizona?

Just because someone is young does not prevent them from committing serious crimes. It also certainly doesn’t prevent them from being penalized for those crimes. Some of these 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, known as “delinquent acts.” Perhaps the most common delinquent acts that occur in Arizona involve the following offenses:

  • Trespassing
  • Vandalism
    • Graffiti, egging, broken windows, or other acts of property damage
  • Sexual offenses
    • Sexual abuse, rape, assault, sexting (child pornography)
  • Assault and battery
    • Physical violence such as fighting or mugging
  • Larceny
    • Theft crimes such as shoplifting, robbery, or burglary 
  • Probation violation
  • Alcohol crimes
  • Drug charges
    • Possession, distribution, paraphernalia
  • Arson
  • Weapons charges

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

If your child 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 the entire legal process.

Juvenile Crime Lawyers Near Me

When it is your child who has been charged, the consequences are grave. To reduce the penalties imposed on your child and to minimize any potential damage to your child’s future, you want to offer the finest legal counsel possible. This, of course, requires the help of an experienced juvenile crimes attorney like Belén Olmedo Guerra. Contact the Belén Law Firm today to discuss your child’s juvenile criminal defense strategy. We offer free case evaluations and are available 24/7. You can reach us at 602-715-0908 or by completing the online evaluation form found below.

Read our blog to learn more about What to Expect in Juvenile Court.

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