While Juvenile Court is somewhat similar to Adult Criminal Court (e.g. the right to an attorney, the privilege against self-incrimination, the need for proof beyond a reasonable doubt, etc.), there remain a few significant differences between the two court systems:
- Purpose: The overall aim of Juvenile Court is very different from its adult counterpart. In the adult system, the goal is to punish criminals for their crimes, but the juvenile system aims to rehabilitate young offenders and help them resume appropriate behavior in society, and avoid future run-ins with the adult criminal court system. This does not mean, however, that juvenile offenses are treated lightly; juvenile offenders can be sentenced to a juvenile detention center, work crews, fines, community service, and drug or violence rehabilitation classes. For more serious crimes such as sex-related offenses, the Court may even order the State to take custody of the juvenile defendant for several months, even years.
- Sentencing: Unlike criminal court, Juvenile Court does not allow for trial by jury. The juvenile defendant must instead appear before a judge who will make the end determination as to whether the juvenile defendant violated a criminal law or not. If the juvenile is convicted of the offense, the judge is responsible for imposing sentencing on the juvenile, usually considering recommendations from the prosecutor, the defense attorney, and the probation officer before the sentence is imposed.
- Access: In juvenile court, charges and convictions are typically not available for public view; however, juvenile court convictions may be accessed by probation officers should the juvenile defendant reach the age of majority and be charged with a crime in adult criminal court. These past convictions may be considered by an adult court judge and result in harsher sentencing in the adult case.
Consequently, juvenile court charges can be very serious. If your child or teenager is facing a criminal charge, it is important to seek a qualified Utah criminal defense attorney. The attorneys at Anderson & Rogers have extensive experience working with children, teenagers, and the juvenile court system. We will work with your child and the court to secure the best possible outcome. Call us for a free initial consultation. We will talk with you for free over the phone or in person, and answer any questions you might have.
The first thing to do is to consult an experienced Utah criminal defense attorney from Anderson & Rogers. Our attorneys are experienced in working with children and teenagers, and have a record of success in juvenile criminal matters. This is crucial to your child’s case for a number of reasons:
- Avoiding Self-Incrimination: As police gather evidence in your child’s case, they will often want to speak to your child, and can attempt to pressure him or her into agreeing to an interview or giving a statement. This can be potentially damaging to your child’s defense case and could even lead to an arrest. Police are trained to use pressure, intimidation, coaxing, and even dishonesty to get a child or teenager to unknowingly say things that can incriminate them. It is important to remember that children have the constitutional rights as adults, including the right to legal representation, and are in no way obligated to speak to law enforcement without first consulting an experienced attorney. The attorneys at Anderson & Rogers can give you advice on how the juvenile system works, and how to handle yourselves throughout the case.
- Preventing False Confessions: Children and teenagers accused of a crime are often more impressionable than adult suspects. Sometimes, police officers, counselors, and other adults may manipulate this impressionability, and a child simply seeking to be compliant with law enforcement or appease an adult figure may end up confessing to a crime he or she did not commit. You may request to have a lawyer present during your child’s interactions with law enforcement to help prevent any false confessions. Keep in mind, police may not be required to seek a parent’s permission before speaking to a juvenile suspect about a potential crime; however, the juvenile does have the constitutional right to remain silent, and a right to seek advice from a lawyer before saying anything to law enforcement.
- Earning Your Child’s Trust: When children or teenagers are accused of a crime, they often feel confusion towards the accusation, fear of the consequences, and an uncertainty as to who they can trust. These negative feelings can often lead children or teenagers to be dishonest with their parents about their situation, reluctant to reveal all the facts of the case, or avoid saying anything about the accusation altogether. Children and teenagers often do not recognize the importance of certain facts, and failure to be completely honest about the facts following an accusation can lead to serious problems down the road. The Utah criminal defense attorneys at Anderson & Rogers have years of experience and training in working with youth accused of committing serious crimes. We know how to talk to adolescents and obtain the information necessary to effectively represent them in juvenile defense matters. We have found that by providing accurate information to our juvenile clients, they are less afraid and more willing to seek proper treatment if necessary. Children and teenagers will come to understand that with the right legal representation, the allegations against them do not have to ruin their lives.
In Utah, shortly after your child or teenager is arrested or cited for a criminal offense, you and your child will often receive a letter in the mail instructing you to have your child meet with a probation officer from the officer of Adult Probation and Parole to discuss your child’s case. However, your child is not legally required to meet with or speak to a probation officer, and still has the right to speak with a lawyer first. Many parents and adolescents believe they have no choice but to submit to the probation officer’s questions.
At Anderson & Rogers, when we are fortunate enough to have parents contact us before having their child meet with Adult Probation and Parole, we generally advise them to not attend the appointment should they plan to retain us. In such cases, if our experienced Utah criminal defense attorneys are retained, they will contact the probation officer and notify him/her that they have advised the client not to attend the appointment. This is to help our clients avoid saying something that could be misunderstood or used as evidence against them when speaking to law enforcement outside of our presence.
Yes. Speaking with a lawyer does not mean you think your child is guilty of any crime or that you want to fight the system, avoid help and treatment for the child accused, or excuse the child from the consequences of any wrongdoing; asking for a lawyer’s help in your child’s defense case is the best way to protect your child from being over-charged and over-prosecuted in a juvenile criminal defense case. Law enforcement officials, including probation officers, are responsible for making a case against juveniles they suspect have been involved in illegal acts; it is the job of the prosecutor to convict the juvenile of these illegal acts. The judge will then weigh the evidence in order to determine whether a conviction is warranted. Without an experienced Utah criminal defense attorney from Anderson & Rogers representing your child, your child will have nobody in the court looking out for his/her best interests.
What happens to my child’s driver’s license if he or she is convicted of a DUI/DWI or other drug or alcohol-related crime—prior to reaching his/her 21st birthday?
Utah Juvenile Drug Offenses: In Utah, a minor convicted of any drug-related offense may automatically lose his or her driving privileges for a minimum of 120 days for a first offense, and up to 3 years or more for any subsequent offenses.
Utah Juvenile DUI/DWI Offenses: If a minor is convicted of a DUI/DWI, he or she may lose driving privileges for 3 years, or until the minor reaches the age of 21 (whichever is longer).
Utah is a “Not a Drop” State: The reason for such strict driving penalties for minors convicted of drug- or alcohol-related offenses is because Utah is a “not a drop” state. This means that juvenile offenders do not even need to exceed the legal drug or alcohol limits in order to lose their driving privileges. If the police and prosecutor can prove that even the slightest detectable amount of drugs or alcohol was in the minor’s system at the time he or she was in physical control of a motor vehicle, the State may suspend or deny the minors driving privileges until they are at least 21 years of age.
- What is considered “physical control”: In Utah, courts have found that if a minor (1) seated in the driver’s seat of a motor vehicle, and (2) with the keys in the ignition, he or she is in physical control of the vehicle and can be convicted of a DUI.
Driver’s License Hearing: Similar to adult DUI charges, juveniles who are charged with a DUI only have a limited number of days in order to request a hearing in front of a Hearings Officer with the Driver’s License Division. If this request is not made (1) within a certain number of days, (2) in writing, and (3) in the correct language, the minor may not be afforded a driver’’s license hearing and may lose their driving privileges for 12 months or more—even if the minor is totally innocent of the DUI charges.
- Preparing for the hearing: Even if a driver’s license hearing is scheduled, it will be necessary to question the police officer regarding the legality of his or her stop, as well as the ensuing search and investigation of the minor cited for the drug- or alcohol-related offense. If the correct questions are not submitted to the police officer, or the proper arguments are not made to the Hearings Officer, the minor will likely have little change at success in the Driver’s License Hearing.
- Consequences of a failed hearing: A minor who either fails to attend or has a negative showing at the Driver’s License Hearing may lose their driver’s license for a minimum of 12 months. Lost driving privileges can result in a minor’s inability to find or maintain employment, transport his or herself to or from school and other activities, or run household errands.
The Need for an Attorney: In these hearings, it is important to have a Utah criminal defense attorney from Anderson & Rogers on your side. We have extensive experience and knowledge concerning Utah’s DUI laws and procedures. We understand the negative impacts that a driver’s license suspension can have on juveniles and others who rely upon them to provide transportation. Our attorneys are experienced in working with the Juvenile Justice system and the Utah Driver’s License Division, and now the many laws pertaining to stops, searches and seizures, arrests, and DUI/DWI testing that overzealous police officers tend to overlook. We can provide you with sound advice and help your son or daughter receive the best and most fair results in any drug or alcohol case. We charge nothing to talk with you on the phone or meet with you for an initial consultation as to your juvenile criminal defense case.
What should I do if my child has been accused of a sex crime, or I think they may have committed a sex crime?
Protect Your Child from Additional Accusations: If your child has been accused of committing, or you suspect your child of having committed a sex crime, the first thing to do is to remove your child from any potentially problematic situations. More specifically, you should do all you can to prevent your child from being alone with other minors, including siblings. This will help to protect your child from being accused of additional sex crimes in the future.
Have Your Child Speak with a Lawyer FIRST: If your child has been accused of a sex crime, it is very important that they do NOT speak to any adult about their situation until after they have spoken with an experienced Utah criminal defense attorney. While it is important for children to receive professional help and advice to assist them through such a difficult ordeal, there are a number of reasons why is it not wise to let them speak to counseling professionals, law enforcement, or religious leaders before consulting an attorney:
- They may lose the right to confidentiality: Counselors, psychologists, and even religious leaders have a legal responsibility to inform police and the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) if they suspect that any sexual abuse has taken place. They will likely need to report anything you or your child has said to them, and this information can be used against your child during a court proceeding.
- They may be pressured into a false confession: Through many years of handling juvenile defense cases, we at Anderson & Rogers have learned that some minors have felt pressure to admit to things that are not true or did not happen in order to appease counselors, psychologists, DCFS case workers, police officers, or religious leaders. This will likely create problems down the line for both the child as well as the attorney defending the child against incorrect charges.
- Children tend to exaggerate: Even the slightest exaggeration of the events or facts surrounding your child’s sex crime case may cause what would otherwise be a simple misdemeanor charge to become a felony conviction. Police and prosecutors take sex crime accusations very seriously; hence, when facts become distorted and appear more serious, your child could end up facing lengthy incarceration, and years of juvenile court supervision and hearings. Parents, on the other hand, could lose their custody rights towards their child.
Immediately Consult an Experienced Utah Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney: Given the serious treatment prosecutors, law enforcement officials, and courts affix to sex crimes, increasingly strict punishments are likely to follow a sex crime accusation. Consequently, juveniles convicted of a sex crime may face severe punishments that last for years and a blemish on their permanent records. An experienced Utah juvenile criminal defense attorney from Anderson & Rogers will work with prosecutors and the court to ensure that your child (1) does not get punished for a crime that he or she did not commit or (2) does not receive a harsher punishment than he or she deserves for a crime that may have been committed. We work one-on-one with juvenile clients, and help them through what can be a very stressful and intimidating situation.
A juvenile offender who is found guilty of a sex crime will be required to register as a sex offender; however, the Utah criminal defense attorneys at Anderson & Rogers understand that this punishment is often more severe than the circumstances of your child’s case may require. For example, a 14-year-old engaging in consensual sexual activity with another 14-year-old may be accused of sexual assault by the consenting juvenile or his or her parents. If this accusation results in a conviction, the juvenile defendant will be required to register as a sex offender and could face several undue consequences including job or scholarship loss, and a damage to his or her social reputation.
The attorneys at Anderson & Rogers understand the serious impact of a sexual assault charge against a juvenile. If your child has been accused of a sex crime, contact us immediately for a free initial consultation. Police and prosecutors take accusations of sexual assault very serious, and may continue to prosecute your child even if the charges have been dropped. Our Utah criminal defense attorneys will aggressively defend your child in court, and seek to get his or her case dismissed, or reduce the sentence and avoid the Utah’s Sex Offender Registry altogether.
Yes. Police officers are allowed to question anyone—adult or juvenile—they suspect to have witnessed or participated in a crime. This does not mean, however, that your child is required to answer all their questions. Children have the same rights as adults when it comes to police interrogations. This includes their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent in order to avoid self-incrimination. If police have probable cause to take your child into custody for questioning, the arresting officer is required to Mirandize your child (i.e. inform your child of the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney, etc.).
Police have an incentive to Mirandize a suspect in a timely manner, as failure to do so may prevent the suspect’s statements admitted in court. However, if law enforcement questions your child before having probable cause, they may not have a duty to read your child’s Miranda rights, and your child’s statements may be admitted in court as evidence.
Miranda rights, and the constitutional requirements that govern them are very complicated. Consequently, children facing a criminal charge will require an experienced Utah juvenile criminal defense attorney from Anderson & Rogers to argue their rights to the court and protect them from the unconstitutional acts of overzealous law enforcement officials.
In Utah, children are considered fully formed human beings, and therefore have all the same basic constitutional rights as adults, with some minor exceptions. These rights include the right to due process, the right to legal counsel, the right against unreasonable searches and seizures, the right to remain silent in order to avoid self-incrimination, and the right against cruel and unusual punishment, etc. Unlike adults, however, children who are charged with a crime in juvenile court do not have the right to a trial by a jury of their peers; the trial and sentence are rather executed by a juvenile court judge.
In addition to court fees, parents may also be required to pay restitution to the victims of the child’s crimes, expenses incurred during the child’s stay at a juvenile detention center, child support, and if necessary, expenses from court-ordered rehabilitation or in-patient treatment programs for the child. Parents may also be responsible for costs associated with placing the child in the custody of the State or another individual. If your child has been accused of a crime, it is crucially important to seek the advice of an experienced Utah criminal defense attorney from Anderson & Rogers. We can advise you on how the system works, as well as how to best avoid unnecessary expenses and costs.