Could your child go to jail as a juvenile?

Most parents hope that their children will be productive members of society. While they likely anticipate some horseplay and bad decisions in their children’s younger years, they may not expect their kids to do something that is against the law. However, many teens and even younger children find themselves facing criminal charges.

If your child ends up in trouble with law enforcement, you undoubtedly want to handle the situation in the best way possible. You and your child both may worry that he or she could go to jail or even face trial in criminal court as an adult. As a result, it is important that you have the right information about what could happen to your child in such a scenario.

Is your child a juvenile?

Though your child may still be a teen, he or she may not automatically fall into the category of a juvenile in the eyes of the law. For example, in North Carolina, the law considers those 16 years old or younger as juveniles. As a result, if your child faces criminal charges at 17 or 18 years old, it is likely the court will try him or her as an adult.

Of course, the possibility exists that, even if your child is 16 or younger, he or she could still go to adult court if the judge deems it appropriate. While many courts do take age into consideration, it is also possible for other details to play a role in whether juvenile or adult court is more applicable. For instance, if a teen is facing murder charges or something of a similar severity, it is typical for cases to go to adult court.

What if the charge is not severe?

Because young people often have lapses in judgment, the charges against your child could be for something like assault after getting into a fist fight, or shoplifting after taking an item from a store in an attempt to gain clout with his or her friend group. In many cases, juvenile courts hear these cases in hopes of getting the child help, such as through counseling and rehabilitation, rather than sending them to jail. Still, juvenile detention and jail are real possibilities, even for young people.

Undoubtedly, you have a great deal of anxiety over your child’s situation, and you want the best outcome in his or her case. As a result, you may want to ensure that you gain reliable and applicable information regarding how juvenile cases are handled for the specific charges your child is facing and the defense options available.

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