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Juvenile Law Terminology
Children facing legal difficulties are best served by consulting an attorney that specializes in the juvenile criminal justice system. If you or a juvenile family member is facing charges for a misdemeanor or a felony, then it might be helpful to have an understanding of some of the jargon. Here are some terms commonly associated with juvenile law defense attorneys, firms and juvenile courts:
Pro Bono: Legal services performed for the public good without monetary compensation.
Detention Center: An institute where youths are detained for short periods of time by court order.
Adjudicate: The formal judgement of a case within the legal system. Also, the process wherein a juvenile case is removed from the court in order to be heard by a judge rather than a jury.
Concurrent Jurisdiction: A crime that falls under the jurisdiction of both the criminal courts and the juvenile court system.
Consent Decree: The agreement between the courts, the juvenile offender and the injured party that certain obligations be fulfilled by the offender in order to have his or her case dismissed.
Deinstitutionalization: The release of mentally ill offenders from detention facilities into the community in order to receive treatment. Deinstitutionalization also applies to the requirement that juvenile offenders be removed from secure correctional facilities.
Parens patriae: The state's assumption of legal parental responsibility for a minor who has been neglected or abandoned by his or her parents.
Status Offender: A juvenile offense wherein the crime lies in the fact that the offender is underage. Examples of status offenses are consumption of alcohol, running away from home, violating curfew and school truancy.
Juvenile law attorneys are required for any sort of legal issue involving a child, whether a criminal charge, felony, misdemeanor, or other. If your child, or someone's you are close to, is a minor and needs advice or assistance in regards to the court or legal system, then you should go about finding an attorney specializing in juvenile law. Children's rights are an important, but often tricky, subject. A youth labeled a delinquent for a minor charge can face certain roadblocks in the justice system if they don't have adequate representation. If it is a drug related offense, possible theft, or suspicious activity at school the extreme end of the punishment scale would be a detention center like juvenile hall, depending on age. Of course, this doesn't have to be the case. A dedicated lawyer will defend your child in court, attempting to reduce the possible sentence and hopefully the charge itself. Though a record will be inevitable, a harsh punishment doesn't have to be. Whatever the offender's delinquency is, or whatever crime they are merely accused of, a well-versed juvenile law attorney will be essential. Once the initial emotional response has been quieted, an adult will need to set into motion a search for the best court defense. If you are comfortable asking friends or family for recommendations, you may want to start there. It is possible someone at your child's school will have great resources for finding a devoted criminal lawyer. If you want to keep it anonymous, internet directories are a terrific way to research anything. The traditional phone book is another good source of information.