Indian Trail Juvenile Delinquency Defense Attorney

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Indian Trail Juvenile Delinquency Defense Lawyer

Helping Young Adults Remain On The Right Side Of The Law

Being charged with a crime can be an overwhelming and confusing time. When that accusation is against your child, it can be devastating and frightening. You may be filled with questions about who to turn to for help, what resources are available, or even what you could have done to prevent it. No matter what questions you have, you and your child deserve the help and support of an Indian Trail juvenile delinquency defense attorney from a law firm you can trust.

The Law Offices of Huffman & Kendrick, PLLC, are the team you have been looking for. With over 35 years of criminal defense trial experience, our attorneys have the knowledge and experience that both you and your child need to help guide you through this situation.

What Are the Roles and Responsibilities of a Juvenile Defense Attorney?

Working with an experienced juvenile defense attorney can significantly increase the possibility of success in your child’s case. While an attorney always seeks an acquittal or dismissal of charges, working to reduce the charges can also be of significant benefit to the case’s outcome. Juvenile court procedures can be very different from those of the adult criminal court. Those who handle juvenile cases want to hold the juvenile accountable, but they also want to see a positive outcome for their future.

A conviction for a juvenile can mean more than time in jail or fines; it can mean entering adulthood with a criminal record, making it difficult to find a job, housing, or even acceptance into higher education.

With a juvenile defense attorney, you add someone to your team experienced in the following methods:

  • An attorney can work to have the case diverted or informally handled, which can avoid your child having a juvenile court record.
  • If your child is held in pre-trial detention, an attorney can work for their early release.
  • In some situations, the accusation, combined with your child’s age, may mean that they will face trial as an adult instead of a juvenile. An attorney can work to prevent this.
  • An attorney represents you and your child, which means that they can be advocates serving on your behalf throughout the criminal justice process.

These are just a few ways in which a juvenile attorney can help; this does not represent a comprehensive list. Criminal charges against a juvenile are significant and should be handled with compassion and empathy, both of which are core values of our team. Juveniles are learning their way in life through trial and error. Making mistakes is a part of growing, but those mistakes should not have a lifetime impact.

What Is a Juvenile Delinquent in North Carolina?

North Carolina defines delinquent juveniles according to their age. Under the law, a juvenile delinquent is a youth between the ages of 10 and 16 who commits an infraction that would be considered criminal under North Carolina laws and statutes. Prior to 2021, the minimum age range was as low as 6, and prior to 2019, the maximum age range was as high as 18.

The Juvenile Legal Process in North Carolina

The process by which a juvenile is taken to court for an infraction begins when a petition is filed against the juvenile offender. This is initiated when the arresting officer files a complaint with a juvenile court counselor, whose responsibility is to determine if further legal action should be taken. If, however, the complaint alleges that a felony was committed, the juvenile will face a hearing to determine if their crime should be adjudicated in court, unless this process is waived.

Whether through petition or through the results of the hearing, if adjudication is determined, it will first explore the evidence of the case. This will determine if there is enough to prove the commission of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The state will be represented by a prosecutor, and the juvenile must also have legal representation.

While these legal proceedings apply to incidents that could be considered criminal, there are other ways in which juvenile delinquency can present itself, though these would be under different terms. These include:

Undisciplined Juveniles

This term is used to describe those juveniles between the ages of 10 and 16 years of age who are:

  • Absent from school unlawfully
  • Regularly noncompliant with their parents or guardian
  • Regularly loitering
  • Runaways who have left home and not returned for a period of 24 hours

These same behaviors apply to a juvenile who is 16 or 17 years of age, except for the attendance at school.

Vulnerable Juveniles

Much like a delinquent juvenile, this term applies to those between the ages of 6 and 10 who commit an infraction that could be considered a crime. Unlike a delinquent juvenile, however, there are other services and processes in place that often involve parents to a greater extent.

Each type of juvenile delinquency comes with its own challenges and processes, which an attorney can help guide you and your child through. No matter which type you are facing, the consequences can have a lasting impact. In many cases, however, there are opportunities for alternative adjudication. These can provide resources to encourage your child to make better choices.

What Are Examples of Juvenile Delinquency?

Categorized into four main categories, juvenile delinquency can happen in a number of different ways. Understanding the categories that apply can help in the mediation process that allows for alternative resolutions. The four main categories include:

  • Individual: This category of delinquency is used to describe instances where a child commits an act independently of any others.
  • Group-Supported: This describes incidents where more than one child commits an act together, often in their neighborhood.
  • Organized: This term in the juvenile delinquency context was coined in the 1950s. The application of the word is used comparably to gangs. This is when one child encourages another to commit criminal acts, offering some kind of reward as an incentive.
  • Situational: This type of delinquent act is often associated with impulsive decisions. The thoughts behind them are not premeditated but spontaneous.

Within each of these categories, there are several types of acts that could be categorized as delinquency. Commonly committed acts include:

  • Assault and/or battery. Despite how entertainment conveys these two crimes, they are treated separately. Battery occurs when physical contact is made between two people, while assault refers to verbal threats or intimidation that causes the other individual to reasonably believe that harm will come to them. A charge of Communicating Threats could also be filed in instances of bullying.
  • Illegal substance offenses. Because of the child’s age, alcohol is included as an illegal substance. Anyone under the age of 21 can be charged with consuming, distributing, purchasing, or possessing alcohol. These charges apply to illegal substances as well, such as narcotics.
  • DWI and DUI. Both driving while intoxicated and driving under the influence for anyone under 21 years of age with any amount of alcohol in their system is illegal, regardless of the level of physical impairment due to that consumption. This also applies to any influence of drugs.
  • Theft and robbery. For juveniles, this will often be shoplifting, such as stealing a backpack or even a bicycle.
  • Truancy. Many juveniles do not recognize that their attendance at school is monitored, and their failure to comply could result in legal action. For children between the ages of 7 and 16, North Carolina law states that they must attend school. Unfortunately, after a verbal warning is issued to a student, if the behavior continues, the parent can be charged with compliance failure. This could also result in a diversion contract placed on the child.
  • Vandalism. From keying cars to graffiti, acts of vandalism are popular among delinquent adolescents.

While these do not represent all the charges that juveniles could face in Indian Trail, NC, they do represent some of the more common occurrences. With the help of our experienced team, we can work through the legal challenges, regardless of the charges against your child.

What to Do When Your Child Is Arrested

The decisions that you and your family make after your child is arrested could impact the outcome of the case against them. The first thing you should do is remain calm. It is natural to want to defend one’s child, keep them safe, and protect them from unnecessary challenges in life. However, the police will not drop the charges simply because they are asked to. Thinking through the process logically will help you manage the situation more effectively. Once calm, do the following:

  • Understand where your child is being held and proceed to that location. This could be a detention center or a police station, but someone there has the information about the incident.
  • Find out what you can about what occurred by listening to the information associated with the case.
  • Before your child is interviewed, ask to speak with them to understand their side of the story.
  • Contact our offices and let us represent you and your child before they are interviewed. Your child’s rights need to be protected, but, unfortunately, parents may not have the rights that you think they should. With our help and representation, we can serve in an advisory role to help guide your child when you may not be able to. For example, you may not be allowed to be present during questioning, but we are.
  • During your initial conversation, be sure to provide as much detail as you can regarding the circumstances of your child’s case.
  • Remind your child not to speak to anyone without first speaking to their attorney. At the same time, ensure that you do not say anything that could incriminate your child. Even though you are not accused, conversations you have with law enforcement could be turned against your child if you say the wrong thing, even casually.
  • Compile a history of your child that can speak to their character. This could include items such as honors, achievements, certificates, grades, and other documentation that can help to portray a positive image of your child. If desired, reach out to local community members who may know your child to find out if they are willing to write a letter on your child’s behalf.
  • It can be easy to become frustrated or angry at the situation. You may feel judged as a parent, frustrated at your child, or that you have failed in some way. Let these thoughts pass and remain focused on supporting the needs of your child through the process.

The earlier you can bring an attorney into your child’s legal support system, the easier it can be to help them during your child’s case. While hiring an attorney can occur at any point, if you have one from the beginning, they can put your child’s interests and rights first from the onset of the case. This can help ensure that they have the support and protection they need.

What Penalties Could a Delinquent Juvenile Face?

The penalties that your child could face are determined by the circumstances of the crime as well as many other circumstances. Unlike the adult court system, the juvenile system penalizes children for convictions differently and can have different options available. Common penalties for juveniles include:

  • Fines
  • Verbal warnings
  • Counseling
  • Probation
  • Community service
  • Monitoring electronically
  • House arrest
  • Removal from their home and placed into foster care
  • Youth Development Center Commitment
  • A combination of both juvenile and adult jail, known as a blended sentence

The hope is that a youth counselor will be able to determine that court intervention is not necessary and close the case. However, in the event that the court is involved, the penalties could become severe.

Your Indian Trail Juvenile Delinquency Defense Attorney and Law Firm

No matter what difficulties your child is facing, it is imperative that you seek the help of a knowledgeable and experienced attorney. At the Law Offices of Huffman & Kendrick, PLLC, our team has over 35 years of experience ready to go to work for you and your child. We know that the accusation alone can be devastating. Our team works compassionately and empathetically to help ensure that a mistake doesn’t ruin your child’s future. Contact our offices today.