While juvenile courts often carry less severe punishments for the sentencing of crimes, being involved in the criminal justice system so young can have damaging impacts on the rest of your life.
Part of growing up is making mistakes and learning from those actions, and sometimes those mistakes involve breaking the law. There is not one single answer for why do juveniles commit crimes, but it happens. The Arizona juvenile court systems do, luckily, focus more on rehabilitation rather than the punishments for offenders under the age of 18, but sometimes, being a juvenile doesn’t excuse certain actions. With an experienced attorney on your side, receiving the best consequences for your actions is far more likely.
In the state of Arizona, you are considered a juvenile if you are under the age of 18. When you break the law, you are a “delinquent offender” or “juvenile delinquent” to make the distinction between being charged as an adult in the courts.
When you break the law as a juvenile, the crimes are referred to as delinquent acts, and if you are convicted, you are said to be “found delinquent.” There are a few other differences in terminology between adult criminal charges and juvenile charges because the latter is often more closely related to civil court rather than criminal court.
But, don’t let these differences seem like the juvenile court will be a walk in the park for you if you’ve committed a crime because juveniles can still face severe consequences of misdemeanors and felonies.
There are three categories of offenses that you can face in the eyes of the Arizona juvenile courts: incorrigible acts, misdemeanors, and felonies. Each category carries a different set of consequences that ranges in severity depending on the crimes committed by juveniles.
The least severe of the three, incorrigible acts are offenses that wouldn’t be considered a crime if an adult committed them. For example:
As a juvenile, misdemeanor charges still carry consequences but are often less severe than being charged as an adult. Common consequences can include fines, community service, mandatory course completion, probation, or even detention (especially for repeat offenders).
Common misdemeanor charges include:
If you commit certain serious crimes, county prosecutors are required to bring criminal (adult) charges if you are between the age of 15 to 17. These serious offenses include:
Aside from these, prosecutors have the discretion to try a juvenile who is over the age of 14 as an adult for any class 1-2 felonies, select class 3 felonies, and class 4-6 felonies that involve a dangerous offense.
As you can see, just because you may be considered a “kid,” your actions still carry consequences, which are sometimes severe. If you (or your child) find yourself mixed up with the wrong side of the juvenile law, it is important to contact a qualified attorney right away.
At the Sonoran Law Group, we have the experience and knowledge to help fight the charges and secure the best outcome possible for your juvenile case. Acting fast is important for reducing or eliminating the damaging effects that a conviction of a juvenile crime can bring.
Contact us today to learn more about how our dedicated and qualified team can help!