WHAT IS JUVENILE COURT?
Juvenile Court is a court designed to handle or process cases involving children under 17 years of age who have been charged with delinquent or unruly offenses. A delinquent offense is a violation of the law which would be a crime if committed by an adult. Delinquent offense include both felonies and misdemeanors. An unruly offense is one that can only be committed by a juvenile. Unruly offenses include runaway, ungovernable, curfew violation, truancy and possession of alcohol by a minor.
WHAT HAPPENS FIRST?
If a police officer is involved the officer will file charges and send the delinquent charges to the Juvenile Court. In most cases unruly charges are filed by the parents. After a delinquent or unruly charge has been filed and received by the Juvenile Court, it is assigned to an intake officer. Next, the intake officer will review the case and will exercise some discretion as to how to proceed with the case. Usually, the intake officer will contact the child and his parents, the police officer and the victim and determine the best way to handle the case. The intake officer has the discretion to dismiss the charges, handle the charges by way of an informal adjustment or bring the case before a Juvenile Court Judge for a formal hearing.
ARE PARENTS EXPECTED TO BE INVOLVED?
At least one or both parents or a guardian must attend any proceeding in Juvenile Court with the child. The judge will take into account the home situation and the parents' reaction to the juvenile's behavior. The judge has the power to order individual and family counseling for both the parents and the child. Parental involvement is critical in the counseling and rehabilitation of the child.
DOES THE SUPERIOR COURT HAVE EXCLUSIVE JURISDICTION OVER JUVENILES 13 TO 17 YEARS OF AGE WHO ARE ALLEGED TO HAVE COMMITTED CERTAIN CRIMES?
The Superior Court shall have exclusive jurisdiction over juveniles 13 to 17 years of age who are alleged to have committed murder, voluntary manslaughter, rape, aggravated sodomy, aggravated child molestation, aggravated sexual battery, or armed robbery with a firearm. See O.C.G.A. 15-11-28(2)(A).
DO I NEED A LAWYER IN JUVENILE COURT?
Children in Juvenile Court, just as in Superior Court, have a constitutional right to be represented by a lawyer. As the severity of the crimes increases, or in the event the child denies the charges, the need for an attorney increases. The child and his parents should discuss their need for a lawyer and make a decision.
To arrange for a free initial consultation with Greg McKeithen, an experienced criminal defense attorney, call 770-377-6906. We will review the facts of your case with you and will offer you our legal opinion as to the strengths and weaknesses of your case.
Gregory McKeithen, P.C.
Attorney at Law
P.O. Box 1145
Lawrenceville, Georgia 30046