Law enforcement agencies are equal opportunity actors when it comes to prosecuting crimes, including when charges involve juveniles. Juveniles are subject to prosecution just like adults, but they do have some additional concerns from the court that allow for an alternate handling of cases. And, when juveniles are charged with a crime, they are still entitled to a criminal defense attorney. Under certain conditions, a public defender can even be appointed.
Assessment for a public defender
The court typically evaluates all defendants for need of a public defender. This is a general means test decided by the judge in most situations, even for a juvenile. The parents are usually responsible for retaining an attorney due to the juvenile status of the defendant. All defendants facing potential incarceration following a criminal conviction are required by law to have adequate criminal defense representation, but many choose to hire a private attorney with significant juvenile law experience.
What a private criminal defense lawyer can do
Not only do juveniles need solid representation when they may be incarcerated, but a private criminal defense attorney can conduct an investigation into the case and question all witnesses and officers involved with a charge. In addition, they can ensure that all extra protections afforded to the juvenile defendant are observed by the court, including expunging records after adjudication.
The fact that a juvenile is under age often will not stop the court from issuing a harsh punishment when charges are serious, and in many ways juveniles need additional protection in terms of their future as well. It is never a good decision to face criminal charges without legal counsel even if there will be no chance of incarceration.