The juvenile court system vastly differs from the criminal adult system. After committing a criminal offense, juveniles are detained rather than arrested. Next, a petition is drawn up which outlines the jurisdiction authority of the juvenile court over the offense and detained individuals, gives notice for the reason for the court appearance, serves as notice to the minor’s family, and also is the official charging document.
Once in court, the juvenile case is adjudicated, and a disposition is handed down. Records from juvenile courts are sealed documents, unlike adult records which are accessible by anyone under the Freedom of Information Act. Many times a juvenile is offered a diversion which is a measure designed to protect the juvenile so that one mistake does not follow the juvenile for life. Juvenile records may also be expunged upon the juvenile’s eighteenth birthday provided the juvenile has met certain conditions, such as good behavior. Juvenile court procedure is also far less formal than adult court procedure.
The disposition of a juvenile case is based on the least detrimental alternative, in order to give the juvenile a second chance. However, one major controversy in juvenile dispositions is the use of indeterminate sentencing, which allows a judge to set a maximum sentence. In such cases, juveniles are monitored during their sentences and are released only when the judge is satisfied that they have been rehabilitated or when the maximum time has been served. Critics argue that this arrangement allows the judge too much discretion and is, therefore, not the least detrimental punishment
Juvenile courts are typically organized in one of three ways:1) as part of a lower court within a city or district court; 2) a completely separate entity which is typically the case in Washington State and/or 3) as part of a higher court such as a circuit or superior court.
If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer.