Everyone makes mistakes, especially when we are young. These mistakes do not define us, it is simply the process by which we learn and grow. Luckily, youthful transgressions do not have to follow us around for the rest of our lives.
Just because it is a juvenile offense does not mean there are not potentially severe and lasting consequences at stake. The juvenile court system has a variety of punishments at its disposal, many of which are no cakewalk. In fact, if the prosecutor deems the crime egregious enough, they may seek to charge the juvenile with a crime as an adult. I will fight hard to make sure this does not take place.
"It is the policy of the state of Idaho that the juvenile correction system will be based on the following principles: accountability; community protection; and competency development. Where a juvenile has been found to be within the purview of the juvenile corrections act, the court must impose a sentence that will protect the community, hold the juvenile accountable for his actions, and assist the juvenile in developing skills to become a contributing member of a diverse community."
Juvenile Court gives us more opportunity to negotiate a sentence less focused on punishment and more centered around more constructive sentencing options involving education, rehabilitation, and community service. In the end, my primary goal is always to negotiate an outcome where any offense can be sealed or removed from the juvenile's record. Idaho was recently found to be dead last in sealing and removing juvenile records. This is why it is important to have an attorney to fight by your side. There is no reason that a youthful transgressions should follow you around for the rest of your life!
Who May Be Prosecuted In Juvenile Court?
The juvenile court has jurisdiction over any juvenile and over any adult who was a juvenile at the time of any act or omission, in the county in which the juvenile resides, or in the county in which the act, omission or status allegedly took place.
A “juvenile” is a person under eighteen (18) years of age or who was under eighteen (18) years at the time of any act or omission bringing the person within the purview of the law.
Who Cannot Be Prosecuted In Juvenile Court?
The juvenile court system court is not available to juvenile violators of alcohol and tobacco laws; except that a juvenile violator under the age of eighteen (18) years at the time of the violation.
The juvenile court system is not available to juveniles charged with certain violent crimes, as defined in Idaho Code § 20-509. This includes
(a) Murder of any degree or attempted murder;
(c) Rape as defined in section 18-6101, Idaho Code;
(d) Forcible sexual penetration by the use of a foreign object;
(e) Infamous crimes against nature, committed by force or violence;
(g) Assault or battery with the intent to commit any of the above serious felonies;
(h) A violation of the provisions of section (a)(1)(A), (B) or (C), Idaho Code, when the violation occurred on or within one thousand (1,000) feet of the property of any public or private primary or secondary school, or in those portions of any building, park, stadium or other structure or grounds which were, at the time of the violation, being used for an activity sponsored by or through such a school;
(i) Arson in the first degree and aggravated arson
The juvenile court system does not apply to juvenile violators of traffic, watercraft, or fish and game laws, or to any failure to obey a misdemeanor citation and criminal contempt laws. However, a juvenile violator under the age of eighteen (18) years at the time of such violation may, at the discretion of the court, be prosecuted in juvenile court.
The Court is not available to juvenile sex offenders who violate the provisions of Idaho Code § 18-8414. (Prohibited employment for sex offenders).
The Classification Of A Juvenile Offense
Juvenile offenses are classified as either status offenses or non-status offenses. The classification can be important to determine the potential punishments and if the case is handled by the juvenile court or just the standard county court.
A status offense is an crime where the act or omission is illegal for minors only. A common example of this is a curfew violation.
A non-status offense is a crime where the act or omission would be illegal for anyone. Most crimes are non-status offenses.
The Juvenile Court Process
If a juvenile is accused of a crime in Idaho there are 3 different avenues the case may proceed down.
If court action is not required, the prosecuting attorney may utilize the diversion process and refer the case directly to the county probation officer or a community-based diversion program for informal probation and counseling.
If the juvenile admits to the allegations contained in the petition, the court may decide to make an informal adjustment of the petition. Informal adjustment includes, but is not limited to:
(a) Reprimand of the juvenile;
(b) Informal supervision with the probation department;
(c) Community service work;
(d) Restitution to the victim;
(e) Participation in a community-based diversion program.
The court will require the juvenile to personally appear in court and formally answer to the charges that have been filed against him or her. The juvenile will be required to either admit or deny the charges. If the juvenile denies the charges, the court will hold an evidentiary hearing to determine the guilt of the juvenile. A juvenile does not have the right to a jury trial - the trial will be held in front of the judge.
The Potential Consequences
A juvenile offender is facing many possible consequences when they admit guilt or are found guilty of a charged offense. The outcome of a case is impossible to predict as it will depend on the the charge, the facts, and the criminal history of the juvenile offender.
For status offenses, the court may sentence the juvenile to detention in a juvenile facility for a period not to exceed thirty (30) days for each conviction.
The court may commit the juvenile to a period of detention, for a period of time not to exceed ninety (90) days for each misdemeanor act the juvenile is found to have committed. This is also possible where the juvenile has been convicted of a multiple status offenses.
If the juvenile has committed an unlawful or criminal act, which would be a felony if committed by an adult, the court may commit the juvenile to detention for a period not to exceed one hundred eighty (180) days for each conviction.
Commitment To Juvenile Corrections
The court may commit the juvenile to the legal custody of the Department of Juvenile Corrections for an indeterminate period of time not to exceed the juvenile's nineteenth birthday (unless certain factors require the legal custody to be extended beyond this date). No juvenile shall remain in the custody of the department beyond the juvenile's twenty-first birthday. A court may not commit a juvenile offender under the age of ten to a period of detention or to the custody of the Department of Juvenile Corrections.
The court may place the juvenile on formal probation for a period not to exceed three (3) years from the date of the order, except in sex cases where the court may place a juvenile on formal probation for a period not to exceed the juvenile's twenty-first birthday.
The court may suspend or restrict a juvenile's driving privileges for such periods of time as the court deems necessary, and the court may take possession of the juvenile's driver's license. The juvenile may request restricted driving privileges during a period of suspension, which the court may allow for employment, education, or family health needs.
Juveniles convicted of a sex crime may be required to register on the sexual offender database.
Unless the court determines that an order of restitution would be inappropriate or undesirable, it shall order the juvenile or his parents or both to pay restitution to or make whole any victim who suffers an economic loss as a result of the juvenile's conduct.
The court may order the juvenile's parents, legal guardian, or custodian to pay the charges imposed by community programs ordered by the court.
If you or a loved one have been arrested and charged with a juvenile offense, it is important that you understand the charges against you and what your legal rights are. Call me to discuss your case, your options, and the potential outcomes.