Being arrested is scary, but for parents of a child who is arrested, the experience is horrifying. The instant feeling of powerlessness when every fiber in one’s body is to protect is unavoidable. However, these fears may be lessened when one understands the process a bit better, and contacts a Georgia criminal defense attorney.
Before their 18 birthday, children are under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court system. However, the system can retain supervision until the child reaches the age of 21.
If the juvenile is alleged to have committed a status offense, delinquent act and traffic offenses, the juvenile court system will get involved. A status offense is one that would not qualify as a crime if the accused were an adult, like truancy and running away from home. On the other hand, a delinquent act is a crime, regardless of one’s age.
Sentencing and charging are different
Juveniles are not sentenced like their adult counterparts. Instead, they sent to treatment. The goal of which is to rehabilitate the child.
Being taken into custody is not the same as being arrested for an adult who is charged with a crime. Instead, juveniles, regardless of their alleged bad acts, are not considered arrested. This is to ensure that the child can still legally claim they have never been arrested. This is important for any background checks and oaths of office that involve questions or affirmations of no arrests.
Everyone, including juveniles accused of a crime have the right to remain silent, and after being charged, they have a right to an attorney. However, unlike what many have seen on TV, Georgia does not require a parent or legal guardian be present when they are questioned by police. But, one must be present if the juvenile waives their Fifth Amendment protections.
This distinction is important though as what the child says may be used against them, but admitting juvenile confessions is much harder than an adult confession. For one, it must be proved that the juvenile knowingly and voluntarily waived their right to silence, taking into account education, their understanding, age, interrogation methods, and whether an adult was present.
This all goes to show that not all hope is lost when a child faces the criminal justice system. They have rights, but the courts advise contacting an attorney to ensure they are protected.