Like adult court, a child charged with a criminal offense has the right to an attorney under the constitutions of the United States and the State of Louisiana. Also, like adult court, the Juvenile Court will appoint an attorney to represent a child who has been charged with a criminal act. There are public defenders available to aid children who are charged with criminal offenses.
Unlike adult court, juvenile proceedings are conducted in a much more confidential manner. As a result, the language used (petition, adjudication, disposition, etc…) are unfamiliar to even those who may have some familiarity with the adult justice system. An attorney with experience in the juvenile court system can provide some much-needed information regarding the proceedings.
A criminal prosecution in juvenile court can, just like adult court, result in a finding of guilt and punishment. That punishment can include fines, imprisonment, probation, community service, anger management, and a multitude of other consequences. In addition, parents of minor children can be required to comply with certain conditions as a result of a juvenile delinquency finding. (Please see last week’s blog post regarding criminal consequences for the parents of delinquent children.)
Although a juvenile record is more protected from disclosure than an adult criminal record, a criminal conviction as a juvenile can cause problems for a person once they have reached adulthood. Under certain circumstances, a juvenile record can be released in subsequent criminal prosecutions.
For the same reasons you would seek an attorney for an adult prosecution, you should seek representation for your child accused of a crime. The consequences can be severe and long-ranging and an attorney will be able to advise you about the direct and collateral consequences of a juvenile criminal prosecution.
If your child has been arrested for a crime, call us at (318) 459-9111 to set up a consult.