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Indiana Juvenile Defense Lawyers
Juvenile Defense Attorneys Serving Madison County and Hamilton County
Being questioned or detained by law enforcement can be an intimidating experience. Children are often stopped by the police if it is suspected that they violated the law or have some information about a possible crime. The procedures that govern a police stop and criminal court hearing are different for minors than for adults. It’s important to make sure that your child’s rights are protected if they find themselves detained and in juvenile court. Having a skilled and experienced Indiana juvenile defense lawyer is necessary to defend your child in trial adequately.
Anyone in Indiana is eligible to be sent to a juvenile criminal proceeding if they are under the age of 18 years and suspected of violating the law. Minors who offend the law are known as delinquent children as defined in the state’s code. While state law usually does hand down lighter punishments for child offenders, a juvenile record can land you in the department of corrections and interrupt your future. Furthermore, Indiana law allows the prosecutor to request that your child’s case is sent to adult court where punishments are much more severe, and permanent records can be imposed on offenders.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime as a minor, do not hesitate to seek a criminal defense lawyer who is familiar with the Indiana juvenile court system. To discuss your case with a juvenile defense lawyer at GDS Law Group, call us today at for a free consultation.
Minors Are Often Detained By Police And Sent To Court
It’s common for people to think that minors are subject to different legal rights when police detain them or they are sent to court. While there are different rules as to their prosecutions and interactions with police, children’s constitutional rights are the same as adults and must be protected. A law enforcement officer must have a warrant or probable cause that a crime has been committed if they are to take a minor into custody. If this happens, they must immediately notify the child’s parent or legal guardian. Law enforcement can then either release the minor to the care of their parents, or they can send the child to a juvenile detention facility. If sent to juvenile detention, the child must have their first hearing in court within 48 hours.
Police come into contact with minors for many different reasons. In addition to encountering them in public places, law enforcement may be responding to a call from parents, teachers, or concerned neighbors. Of the many reasons minors get arrested, some of the most common that we have seen include:
- Curfew violations
- Routinely disobeying parents or leaving home without permission
- Skipping school
- Loitering in closed public parks after hours
- Underage alcohol consumption
- Noise complaints
The Juvenile Court Process
If police detain you or your child for a suspected juvenile offense, the process that you are facing will be determined in large part by the law enforcement officers and intake personnel involved. A minor may be sent home with their parents at many different points throughout the process, and you are allowed to have your juvenile criminal lawyer with you at every step. While each case is unique, the juvenile court process generally goes as follows:
- Detention hearing – This hearing is required to take place within 48 hours of a child coming into custody, and it will determine if the child can go home with their parent or guardian. Your juvenile lawyer can explain your requests to the court and can inform them about who will supervise the minor upon release.
- Initial Hearing – Here, the minor is officially informed of the criminal charges being pressed, and their juvenile defense attorney will be able to file a formal response.
- Waiver Hearing – In some instances, the district attorney will request that the child’s case is removed from juvenile court and sent to adult court. If this happens to you, your juvenile attorney will be able to inform the judge on why the transfer should not occur.
- Fact-Finding Hearing – A trial in juvenile court involves the judge reviewing evidence and witness testimony and then determining if the child broke the law.
- Dispositional Hearing – If the judge finds that the minor violated the law, the judge will then use this hearing to determine what action must be taken. Your attorney can explain why a lesser punishment would be more just than a harsh punishment such as a sentence to a detention center.
Punishments Common For Juvenile Offenders
Being found as a juvenile delinquent by the court allows the judge to hand down a great variety of punishments. While punishments for minors are usually less severe than those for adults, your penalty can be costly and leave you with a criminal record that affects your life for years. Of the many possible punishments that can be the outcome of your case, one or several of them may include:
- Time in a juvenile detention facility
- Required payment or restitution to the victims
- A requirement to undergo counseling or substance abuse treatment
- Loss of driver’s license
- Community service
- Placement in a group or foster home
One of the most frightening things for a minor and their family can be the possibility of being sent to adult criminal court. Adult court allows for the full range of punishments that Indiana law has for offenses. In addition to longer prison terms and steeper fines, the adult court process can take longer and may leave you with a permanent criminal record. Your juvenile defense lawyer must understand how the Indiana courts will consider if your case should be in an adult proceeding, and how to argue against the adult court waiver. Children of different ages can be sent to adult court in the following scenarios:
- Minors at least 10 years old – Anyone this age can be sent to adult court if charged with murder.
- Minors at least 14 years old – If the crime they are facing is a felony that is considered to be heinous and if the prosecution shows that the juvenile system cannot be reasonably expected to rehabilitate them.
- Minors at least 16 years old – If the crime they are facing can be charged as a felony and it is in the best interest of society to try them as an adult.
A Juvenile Defense Attorney From GDS Law Group Can Help You
A criminal prosecution can completely disrupt your life. If you’re a minor, it can keep you from family and school while also gravely threatening your future. It’s important to not delay in calling your Indiana juvenile defense lawyer after an arrest. Every step of the court process must be taken seriously, and your lawyer must understand how a juvenile court will consider any petition to remove your case to adult court. The legal team at GDS Law Group has helped many families in your position, and we understand how important a favorable conclusion is for you.
Your child’s rights must be defended, and it’s essential to have your child at home in your care and not in a state detention facility.
Contact us to speak with a skilled and compassionate Indiana juvenile criminal lawyer about your case and how we can help you during this difficult time. Call right away to set up a free case evaluation.