Juvenile Court is Designed to Rehabilitate not Punish.
Contact An Attorney Who Has Experience in the Juvenile Court
Under the U.S. and Michigan Constitution juveniles have the same rights and protections as adults. Like any person living in the United States and Michigan, a juvenile has a right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, the right to be free of self-incrimination, and the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty be a reasonable doubt. In addition if a juvenile is arrested or stopped for questioning they the right to refuse to answer any questions and to have an attorney or a parent present during police questioning who must make a reasonable attempt to contact a parent.
This rule applies even if a juvenile is merely being questioned as a witness to a crime. In this situation, a juvenile may not be free to leave the presence of the police, however, they have the same Constitutional rights as adults and are entitled to have their parent or guardian present at any police questioning.
The Juvenile Justice system is unlike the Criminal Justice System faced by adults who commit crimes. In general, juvenile proceedings are not considered criminal in nature and except for certain exceptions, the goal is rehabilitation, not punishment.
Currently, jurisdiction over a juvenile applies to those under the age of 17 who have broken the law or committed some other offense such as incorrigibility or school truancy. Proceedings must be initiated before the 18th birthday and jurisdiction usually ends when the juvenile turns 18, however, under certain circumstances the court may retain jurisdiction until age 21. The Michigan Legislature and governor have passed and signed into law a change which means a kid will be considered an adult when he turns 18 no the current 17 years.
The law does not take effect for some time so currently you are an adult under the criminal code when you hit 17. In addition the new law still allows for certain procedures to move the case from Juvenile to Adult Court. This generally will happen in particularly brutal crimes.
Juvenile proceedings are initiated though a petition. Upon its issuance, a Preliminary Hearing must be held within 14 days to determine whether there is Probable Cause to proceed. If the juvenile is detained, it must be held within 24 hours. If probable cause is found, a pretrial date will be scheduled. At the pretrial, the juvenile has the option to (1) plead guilty or no contest; (2) set the matter for trial in front of a referee, a judge, or a jury; or (3) adjourn for further resolution, discovery, or a motion hearing.
Depending on the offense, it used to be the court could determine that the best interests of the juvenile and the public would be best served by placing the juvenile on the “Consent Docket”. While the term “Consent Docket” and the its procedures are no longer followed, the consent docket ideals and goals are still followed. Generally what this means and depending on the crime, in exchange for a guilty plea and successful completion of a period of probation that generally includes some sort of counseling and community service, the charge is dismissed.
• Place the juvenile in, or commit him or her to, a private institution or agency.
• Commit the juvenile to a public institution, operated by an agency of the court or county or the court may order the child to become a ward of the State.
• Appoint a guardian for the juvenile.
• Order community service, jail tour, criminal call, letter of apology, anger management, individual counseling, drug court, employment, school attendance, etc.
• Order court costs and restitution to the victim..
• Place the juvenile in a boot camp or similar program depending on the county.
If your child is arrested or detained, it is important not to panic or react angrily, but contact an attorney as soon as you can. Getting angry with the police, prosecutor or Judge will only make a problem even more difficult to solve. If you cannot afford an attorney, like in adult court, the juvenile court will appoint an attorney at no or little cost to represent the child. And a parent may request to see their child at any time when the child is in custody.
Law Office of James G. Schmier, PLLC
2222 Attard Street, Birmingham, Michigan 48009
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