When we’re young, we are prone to make mistakes. It is generally considered to be a normal part of growing up. This is understood by basically any parent with experience raising a child, or simply remembering what it was like to be a child. Unfortunately, the criminal justice system in Fairfax County is not quite as understanding when a juvenile is alleged to have broken the law. In fact, simple mistakes committed by a minor could actually result in serious criminal prosecution, incarceration, and a permanent criminal record that will hinder the juvenile’s future prospects.
Who is Considered a Juvenile in Virginia?
Under Virginia law, anyone who is under the age of 18 is considered to be a juvenile. The “age of accountability” in the Commonwealth is 18. This is important because when a juvenile is alleged to have committed a crime, they are not considered to be old enough, or of sufficient mind, to be held responsible for their actions in the same way an adult is held accountable for committing the same alleged offense. Juvenile criminal offenses are handled differently than adult criminal offenses and usually are not considered as serious because of the age of the alleged offender.
If your child is charged with committing a crime in Fairfax, it is extremely important to have an understanding of the potential penalties associated with a conviction for a juvenile criminal offense, in addition to the legal rights afforded to your child so you can mount a compelling and persuasive defense. Committing a crime before the age of 18 does not have to mean your child’s life is over. You can fight the charges with the assistance of a respected and knowledgeable Fairfax juvenile defense lawyer.
Penalties Associated with a Conviction for a Virginia Juvenile Criminal Offense
If your child is convicted is committing a crime and breaking the law in Fairfax, the penalties can be quite severe depending on the circumstances of the offense. If a crime is committed by a juvenile and they are tried as a minor, there is usually no jail time if they are convicted of the offense. However, if the minor is alleged to have committed a more serious criminal offense, they could wind up with a permanent, public criminal record which could significantly harm the child later in life, especially when the juvenile tries to apply for jobs, sign a lease, get a credit card, and so forth.
Misdemeanor criminal offenses usually do not result in a public criminal record for the juvenile. On the other hand, juveniles over the age of 14 who are convicted of a felony will be marked as convicted felons for the rest of their lives. Even though juveniles may not serve time behind bars for their crimes, a juvenile crime can still have negative consequences that reverberate years down the road.
Laws Governing Juvenile Criminal Offenses
Most laws governing juveniles are under Virginia Code § 16.1. However, the criminal offenses your child is alleged to have committed may fall under provisions of the Virginia Code. Because juveniles are not considered old enough to be held responsible for their actions, the penalties for juveniles are generally more lenient than for adults, but that can change depending on the criminal offense.
Examples of Common Juvenile Criminal Offenses
There are many crimes that are commonly committed by juveniles, many of which fall under Virginia Code § 18.2. Each individual crime has its own set of potential penalties depending on the circumstances of the offense. Here are some examples:
- Destruction of Property – Codified in 18.2-137 and § 18.2-138
- Possession and/or Distribution of Marijuana – Codified in 18.2-248 and §18.2-250
- Shoplifting and/or Grand Larceny – Codified in 18.2-95
- Underage Drinking and/or Possession of Alcohol – Codified in 4.1-305
Benefits of Hiring a Skilled Fairfax Juvenile Crime Defense Attorney
If you or your child is charged with a juvenile criminal offense in Fairfax, it is critically important to be well-prepared for court. Yes, a Fairfax court is typically more lenient toward juvenile offenses, but that is not always the case and one of the easiest ways to make the situation worse is by disrespecting the judge, the clerks, and the court by not being prepared. You should also make sure you are protected by a strong legal defense by retaining the services of an experienced and respected juvenile defense lawyer in Fairfax. They can advocate on your behalf, or your child’s behalf, and guide you through this stressful legal process.
Take Action by Contacting the Dua Law Firm Today
If you or your child was charged with a juvenile criminal offense, you need a top-notch legal defense. Your future is on the line and you owe it to yourself to have a tireless advocate working on you or your child’s behalf. The Dua Law Firm stands ready to help. Our team of Fairfax juvenile crime defense lawyers will pour over every detail of your case and organize the strongest defense possible. We are dedicated to protecting your legal rights and working to give you the most desirable outcome in court. Call Raj Dua at (703) 382-7300 or email [email protected] for a free, confidential consultation