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Juvenile law presents several unique challenges, and handling juvenile delinquency cases requires exceptional care. Though juvenile charges often have lesser penalties since the accused are still minors, they can still affect the entirety of a child’s life into adulthood. Though juvenile offenders may be able to clear their criminal record when they turn 18, some will be retained into adulthood.
In Arizona, the focus of the juvenile delinquency court process is rehabilitation. To reduce the lasting impact of the charges on children, it’s essential to work with an Arizona juvenile delinquency`1 and incorrigibility attorney. Professional help navigating the juvenile court system can mean the difference in your and your child’s future.
Our Arizona juvenile attorneys use decades of combined experience and extensive knowledge of the Arizona family court system to advocate for your child’s rights. We strive to create the ideal solution that allows children to thrive while retaining your family’s best interests. With representation from our attorneys, you can feel confident in our ability to provide the best outcome for your situation.
Arizona Laws and Parental Responsibility
Parents of children have the legal responsibility to provide for their basic needs. Parents who knowingly shirk this responsibility could face charges with penalties, including fines and jail time. Parents are also responsible for controlling their child’s behavior to maintain public safety and prevent a public nuisance.
In some cases, a failure on behalf of the parents to control their child can result in public safety issues or a public nuisance. In these cases, parents will face legal consequences. However, there are situations where children are uncontrollable and willingly disobey rules set before them. In these cases, they may be deemed delinquent or incorrigible in the eyes of the law.
Juvenile Law and Delinquency in Arizona
A juvenile delinquent, or delinquent offender, refers to those under the age of 18 who break the law and are charged with a felony or misdemeanor. This is used rather than defendant to make clear that the proceedings are for a child. A trial for delinquent acts is called an adjudication hearing. This is because the juvenile court is more like a civil court than an adult criminal court.
The goal of the juvenile court system is not to punish minors at any cost but instead to rehabilitate them and prevent them from committing similar or other crimes when they’re older. However, despite the leniency in juvenile court, serious consequences can still occur as a result of a juvenile offense.
If a minor is charged with a serious misdemeanor or a felony, they could even face detention (incarceration) in juvenile court. As mentioned, in severe situations, a minor’s case may be moved to adult criminal court. Having an attorney working by your side will give your child a better chance at fair sentencing to preserve their future.
Juvenile Delinquency or Incorrigibility?
Under Arizona’s delinquency and incorrigibility law, juvenile cases apply to children from ages 8 to 18. However, it is important to note that cases of a serious nature may be tried in adult criminal court. The goal of the Arizona juvenile court is to balance public safety with minor rehabilitation when faced with incorrigibility or delinquency.
Juvenile incorrigible acts include skipping school, running away from home, drug use, drinking alcohol or smoking, failing to adhere to a curfew or consistent behavior that endangers the child or others. These acts are juvenile offenses that aren’t crimes in adult criminal court. The sentencing, or disposition, for these offenses is much less severe than in adult criminal court. If a child is considered incorrigible, they may be put on probation, fined, or given community service.
Delinquent acts are far more serious. Delinquent acts is the term the Arizona juvenile court system uses to refer to crimes. A delinquent child commits misdemeanors or felonies, which can result in serious penalties or disposition for children if they are found delinquent.
How Can a Juvenile Attorney Help?
Although the juvenile court is not the same as adult criminal court, children still deserve an experienced advocate in their corner. If the charges against your child are moved to adult criminal court, they may remain in the system for their entire lives. To pursue rehabilitation within the juvenile system, you need a formidable advocate who is well-versed in juvenile law.
Even if a minor is not facing criminal court, a legal advocate is essential to prevent the most severe penalties. For example, if your child is charged with a fine for a delinquency-related misdemeanor or incorrigibility, parents are responsible for remitting payment to the state. However, fines are considered a light disposition for many delinquent acts. The last thing any parent wants is for their child to face detention or incarceration. Skilled juvenile defense may prevent the most severe dispositions in juvenile court and enable your family to secure the best possible judgment.
Common Misdemeanors in Arizona Juvenile Court
In Arizona, any misdemeanor committed by a minor can be charged as such in juvenile court.
Common charges include:
- Driving under the influence (DUI) or impaired driving
- Shoplifting or petty theft
- Drug possession
- Public intoxication
- Possession or use of a fake ID
- Unruly conduct
- Indecent exposure
A misdemeanor charge for minors could lead to a variety of dispositions, including community service, probations, and in some cases, detention.
Can Minors Be Charged as Adults in Arizona
Felonies are serious charges and can thus bring severe juvenile consequences. In addition, there are certain felony crimes that can land a minor in adult criminal court. To be tried in adult criminal court, the minor must be between 14 and 17 and have committed one of a select list of crimes.
Arizona law states that the following crimes can be tried in adult criminal court:
- 1st and 2nd degree murder
- Forcible sexual assault
- Armed robbery
- Violent felony offenses, including aggravated assault, aggravated assault with a weapon, drive-by shootings, and discharging a firearm at a building or structure
- Felony offenses by a minor with at least two prior felony offenses
These crimes are considered “heinous,” which triggers the court’s ability to assign full consequences suitable for an adult. It should be noted that the court tries minors in adult court only in severe circumstances to protect public safety.
Minors who are convicted in adult criminal court face the same sentencing as adults for the same crime. The only crime that this regulation does not apply to is first-degree murder. If a minor is convicted of first-degree murder and they were under 18 when they committed the crime, they can’t be given the death penalty. However, a life sentence is still a possibility, and It is within your best interests to have an attorney on your side to secure the best chance of preventing a felony charge from being transferred to criminal court.
Transferring A Criminal Case Back to Juvenile Court
There is hope if a minor’s case has been moved to adult criminal court. A skilled juvenile attorney can file a motion to transfer the case back to juvenile court if there is sufficient proof that the result will be better for public safety and the child’s rehabilitation.
Other deciding factors include:
- The severity of the offense
- The previous criminal or juvenile record
- The potential impact of the transfer on the victim
- Whether the minor was part of a criminal gang
- The minor’s mental health
A juvenile defense attorney can be invaluable in protecting your child’s rights.
Disposition in Arizona Juvenile Delinquency Cases
In Arizona courts, judges have a great deal of discretion during juvenile sentencing or disposition. Common dispositions that target rehabilitation over incarceration include the following:
In cases dealing with minor infractions, judges may simply issue a verbal warning. This is most common in juvenile incorrigibility cases.
A juvenile may be given court-ordered therapy to help reduce the risk of future incorrigibility or delinquent acts.
Community service is a common disposition in juvenile cases. The court may assign a community service duty, or the juvenile may be able to choose one. The minor must complete an assigned number of hours for community service and must complete it within the court-ordered timeline. If the juvenile fails to do so, they may receive a more severe sentence.
Fines can serve multiple purposes. Issued fines may be fines that the juvenile must pay to the court and government or may serve to compensate the victim of their delinquency. Parents are responsible for this fine if the juvenile cannot pay it on their own.
Monitoring is ordered by the court to track a child’s location at all times. It is often included as part of a house arrest order.
This is a common disposition for juvenile delinquency cases. Probation provides the juvenile with limited freedom to complete day-to-day activities. If the juvenile does not meet the terms of the probation, more severe sentencing may take place.
Incarceration, or detention, is the most severe sentencing option within the juvenile court system. These are less common, but judges must also take into account the safety of the community during sentencing. A detention sentence may be to protect a community from a juvenile’s potential repeated actions or even protect a minor from bad influences in their daily life.
Detention dispositions include:
- House Arrest – Often combined with electronic monitoring options, such as an ankle bracelet, a house arrest is a court order to remain at home. Travel is limited to essential things like work, school, or other court-ordered dispositions.
- Placement – If the juvenile’s home situation has in part led to delinquent acts, they may be placed to live with a relative or in a group or foster home.
- Juvenile Detention Facilities – These are often fairly basic detention facilities meant for only a short period of time.
- Secured Juvenile Facilities – If a juvenile has been given a disposition of months or years in juvenile detention, this is where they will reside.
- Jail or Prison – If a minor has committed a severe felony and been charged in adult criminal court, they may be given a disposition of county jail or state prison.
The Valley Law Group for AZ Juvenile Law
At The Valley Law Group, we know that juvenile law proceedings require a strong defense mounted by a group of attorneys with insight into the Arizona family court system. We proudly defend children’s rights while recognizing that every family dealing with juvenile proceedings is also dealing with a unique situation. That’s why our attorneys work closely with you and ensure we know the unique challenges and requirements you’re facing.
Whether your child committed a misdemeanor or felony or has been termed incorrigible or delinquent due to another offense, you should begin working with Arizona Juvenile Law attorneys.