Ever ask yourself what do juvenile attorneys do? A ‘juvenile’ is a minor and under 18 years of age, according to the rule in most of the states. Juvenile justice is the area of criminal law that encompasses persons who are not old enough to be held accountable for the criminal act. When a juvenile violates a criminal statute, the consequences are generally quite different as compared to when an adult breaks the law.
Juvenile courts usually have authority over three disciplines of children: juveniles accused of criminal conduct, juveniles neglected or abused by their parents and juveniles charged with a status offense. These offenses include absence from school, flight from home, noncompliance of reasonable parental control and purchase of alcohol and tobacco. Generally, juveniles are separated and labeled on the basis of the reason for their juvenile court appearance and the facts of their case.
Juvenile law is mainly governed by state law and most states have enacted a juvenile code. The primary purpose of juvenile justice system is to rehabilitate rather than punish. A juvenile attorney is experienced in the area of juvenile law and has complete legal knowledge and courtroom skills of a criminal defense lawyer attorney representing adult defendants. Besides, the juvenile defenders are well aware of the strengths and needs of their juvenile clients, their families and other social structures. They must complete three years of law school after college, clear their state bar’s examination, provide the board of bar examiners with a character reference and have a clear criminal background check.
Juvenile defenders understand the child and adolescent development and are able to evaluate their maturity level and competency in relation to the delinquency case. They also have knowledge and contacts at various community-based programs to formulate an individualized disposition plan. Juvenile defenders know the intricacies of mental health and special education law as well as school networks that may help in appropriately placing the client.
Juvenile attorney has the knowledge of the jurisdictions juvenile code and juvenile court rules. They are trained in vast and traditional legal areas including rules of evidence constitutional law, juvenile law, and procedure, criminal law and procedure, trial skills and appellate procedures. They are also familiar with the child and adolescent development, the collateral consequences of adjudication and conviction, expungement, special education, abuse and neglect, mental health cultural competency, child welfare, and entitlements and immigration.
The juvenile defense attorney is the only person in the courtroom ethically charged with representing the child’s stated interest. The child, who is otherwise not to drive, drink, vote, marry or enter into a legal contract is empowered to direct court proceedings, and this is where a juvenile attorney comes into play, where with the required knowledge and skill set they can settle the case in the best interests of their client. In the light of duty owed to the client, the juvenile delinquency attorney-client relationship is exactly the same as an adult-criminal attorney-client relationship.
The juvenile defense attorney’s role is to empower the client to make informed decisions and follow through the case goals the client has chosen. They advise clients and parents about legal strategies and potential outcomes. They interview and prepare clients for trials. Juvenile attorneys take it upon themselves to interact with clerks, judges, law enforcement officers, law clerks, parents, private investigators, and expert witnesses. They communicate legal concepts to young clients in easily comprehensible language and are skilled to write, read, speak and reason in an influential manner.
Some juvenile lawyers also work as child advocates, raising public awareness of legal and social issues involving children and adolescents and representing their best interest in the courtroom. Hope this helps you with more information on what to juvenile attorneys do.