It can be a harrowing experience to discover that your child is facing criminal charges. Sometimes kids can make rash decisions or become involved in events without considering the consequences. In fact, all it takes is to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and your son or daughter can suddenly be facing criminal prosecution. Here is some advice from a Stamford criminal attorney if you and your loved ones are facing this situation.
Obtain Legal Counsel Immediately
In order to obtain the best outcome it’s essential to have someone with legal training and experience working with you. The prosecuting attorney is highly qualified and is working to represent the state’s case to the best of his ability; it’s not his job to advise or assist you in protecting your child’s interests. A qualified Stamford criminal attorney will walk with you through every step of the process, working to get the charges dropped, and will protect your child’s future.
In Connecticut, the Juvenile Matters Court has jurisdiction over children and young people under the age of 18 who are accused of violating a city, state or federal law. Prior to July 2012, all offenders between the ages of 16 and 17 were tried in adult court as youthful offenders but still had some protections regarding record erasure. Juvenile proceedings are not open to the public and the names are withheld to protect the identity of the minors involved.
Laws have been modified numerous times and the statutes now list 50 violations which are considered “Serious Juvenile Offenses” and for which the court is allowed discretion in transferring the juvenile into the adult system. Some of these apply to people as young as 14 years of age. One of the things your Stamford criminal attorney will attempt to do is keep your child within the juvenile system.
Juvenile matters can be handled in two ways; as a non-judicial case or a judicial case. The non-judicial hearings are reserved for less serious offenses and are handled by a probation officer who can either dismiss the charges or set certain requirements which must be met to avoid prosecution.
A juvenile matter could be referred to the court as a judicial case for a number of reasons. Some of these include:
- The juvenile defendant pleads not guilty;
- The probation officer refers the case to the court;
- Charges are more serious in nature;
- Extensive record of prior offenses;
- Certain serious felony charges; and
- Charges involve the sale of drugs, and certain firearm or automobile offences
Under certain circumstances, a juvenile may be referred to adult court. By statute, any child over the age of 14 who is charged with a Class A or Class B felony is automatically referred to adult court. Other felony charges may also be referred up at the discretion of the prosecutor. The adult court does have the ability to transfer certain juveniles charged with felonies back to the juvenile court, an option your Stamford criminal lawyer will want to pursue.
Federal law requires states to maintain confidentiality of juvenile records, though certain parties are allowed to be notified of certain juvenile arrests and convictions. By statute, Connecticut courts are required to erase juvenile records when the child comes of age, however, a minor may petition to have his record erased earlier if it has been 2 years since his conviction of a non-serious charge or 4 years since his conviction of a serious charge.
This is an important option to discuss with your attorney, especially if the child will still be under 17 when this milestone is reached. According to the law, when a juvenile record has been erased, it is the same as if the young person had never been arrested. He will not be required to disclose any of the information on job or school applications and can legally state that he has never had a criminal conviction.
If your child is in trouble with the law, reach out for help. Get a Stamford Criminal Attorney in your corner and protect your child’s future.
About Mark Sherman
Mark Sherman, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Fordham University of Law, has been a member in good standing of the Connecticut, New York and Florida state bars since 1998. He has offices in Stamford, Connecticut and New York, New York, and practices in both locations. He has been recognized as a top business professional by the Fairfield County Business Journal and has been honored as a “Super Lawyer” by both New England and Connecticut Super Lawyers for 2011 and 2012.
If you enjoyed this you may like http://www.ct.gov/opm/cwp/view.asp?A=2974&Q=383628.