Why Hire an Attorney Specialized in Juvenile Criminal Law?
While it may be tempting to try to avoid the expense of hiring an attorney for the less serious offenses, it is wise not to underestimate the consequences of inexperienced defense. What might result in a simple fine or slap on the wrist in adult court could lead to a minor's removal from his home to a juvenile detention center. Likewise, an overworked and underpaid court-appointed lawyer could be the unwitting catalyst to your child's incarceration.
An experienced juvenile criminal law attorney takes it upon him/herself to know the particulars of the juvenile's situation, from their standing at school to their home life. The juvenile lawyer spends the time getting to know the minor that a public defender simply doesn't have, and in turn relays that minor's story to the judge, district attorney and probation officer; in effect, the attorney becomes the voice of the minor.
An attorney specialized and experienced in juvenile law understands the amount of discretion a judge in juvenile court has and is well versed in how to make a case for rehabilitation rather than punishment. An experienced attorney could also mean the difference between the minor being detained or allowed to go home for the time period of the initial hearing. There are numerous consequences to hiring inadequate counsel in this delicate area of the law, such as:
- The minor may be incarcerated due to inexperienced negotiating on the part of the attorney
- The parents will have to foot the bill for the incarceration period at a juvenile detention hall
- The chances of the minor getting locked up with gang members is substantial
- The offense will go on the minor's permanent record
- In the event of incarceration, the minor may have to be moved to a different school district after release, depending on the leniency of the current district
An experienced juvenile criminal lawyer may be able to achieve non-incarceration solutions that a non-specialized lawyer cannot, such as placement of the minor in rehabilitation programs, payment of restitution to victims, imposition of court-imposed curfews, mandatory school attendance, or placement in a juvenile detention facility. The judgments made at this crux in the minor's life can very often determine his/her path well into adult life; the election of a skilled and specialized attorney is crucial.
How to Hire a Juvenile Criminal Law Attorney
The fee range for juvenile criminal law representation is very wide, but it will increase greatly if the matter must actually be tried in front of a judge; hence, it is highly advisable to hire the most experienced attorney that can be afforded.
Certain documents should be prepared ahead of time before the first meeting with a juvenile criminal law attorney. These documents may include: the minor's birth certificate, school work documentation, such as report cards, special awards, etc., documentation of employment, such as pay stubs, proof of church involvement, if applicable, and copies of prior juvenile court records or police reports. Additionally, if the minor has any health conditions that may be seriously complicated by detention, proof in the form of medical records or doctor's notes should also be provided. Witness information should also be prepared at this time.