Juvenile Delinquency Cases
The Michigan Penal Code embodies the statutes and penalties relating to criminal conduct. With the exception of the jail and prison penalties that apply only to adult offenders, these statutes also apply to juveniles. The classification of a criminal offense as a felony or misdemeanor also applies in juvenile delinquency proceedings. There are many other proceedings in the juvenile system which closely parallel the criminal (adult) system.
Juvenile Delinquency Proceedings, Applicable to Offenders under Age 17
The age of an offender when a criminal offense is committed will determine whether the matter will be tried in the juvenile system or the adult court system.
Juvenile Delinquency Proceedings, under age 17: In Michigan, a child that is under age 17 that is charged with any criminal offense listed in the Michigan Penal Code will be treated as juvenile. The proceedings that are brought against a juvenile are known as juvenile delinquency proceedings. In extreme cases, a juvenile may be tried as an adult.
Adult Criminal Justice System, age 17 or older: A person that has attained the age of 17 or older that is charged with any criminal offense is treated as an adult and faces criminal penalties which include potential jail or imprisonment. However, an offender age 17 but under 24 may be eligible for special sentencing treatment pursuant to the Youthful Trainee Act (commonly referred to as HYTA). When we are able to achieve a disposition pursuant to HYTA, the conviction will be dismissed and the record sealed from public view upon compliance. There is an ongoing movement in Michigan to treat 17 year old offenders as juveniles instead of adults.
Michigan Penal Code Applies to JuvenilesThe scope of our legal representation for juvenile covers the gambit of every felony or misdemeanor listed in the Michigan Penal Code including:
- Alcohol crimes, minor in possession, drunk driving
- Disorderly conduct
- Assault crimes, domestic violence, assault with a weapon
- Property crimes, home invasion, MDOP
- Drug crimes for possession of marijuana, heroin, prescription pills
- Drug crimes for delivery of marijuana, heroin, prescription pills
- Computer crimes or using a computer to commit a crime
- Unlawful posting of a message
- Retail fraud (shoplifting)
- Sex crimes, child pornography
Sex Crimes & Juveniles
Juveniles, even those that are of tender years, are not exempt from being charged with a sex crime or child pornography. For several reasons, we are seeing more juveniles charged with sex crimes than at any other time. This is confirmed by a recent Juvenile Justice Bulletin article which states that a number of offenders, ages 12 -14, are coming to the attention of law enforcement for sex crimes. From our firm’s point of view, I believe that most juvenile sex cases are based upon youthful curiosity or impulsive behavior. On the other extreme, we are also seeing more cases that involve shocking sexual misconduct. At least to some degree, I attribute this to availability of pornography on the internet or cable media where exposure to outrageous adult sexual content is easily accessible.
When a juvenile is charged with a sex crime, our first order of business is to obtain an independent psychological profile. We do this because we know that the court is concerned as to whether a child is a predator or likely to repeat acts of sexual aggression or misconduct. A thorough psychological profile will later be utilized in the court system to advocate for a specific plea bargain or favorable disposition.
In Macomb County, one can expect a referral to determine whether the Macomb County Juvenile Sex Offense Response and Prevention (JSORP) is an appropriate program for the juvenile offender. The referral consists of various testing, an interview process and reviewing prior medical and school records of the juvenile. At some point, a report is provided that will summarize the psychological test results, the juvenile’s history and contain recommendations. The main question is whether the juvenile poses a risk for future inappropriate sexual conduct. Once a juvenile is allowed to participate in the Macomb County Juvenile Sex Offense Response and Prevention, the case will be scheduled for review hearings at the court to determine the juvenile’s progress.
Our goal in defending a juvenile charged with a sex crime is to avoid a sex crime conviction, avoid sex crime registration (SORA) and avoid detention or placement outside of the family home. We have successfully defended juveniles that face sex crime convictions by demonstrating to the prosecutor and the court that the child is not a predator, is not likely to be a risk to the community, is in a stable environment and is attending, or willing to attend, sex based specific therapy.
Cellular Phones, Computers, Text Messages and Internet Posts
Your child’s text messages and posts on the internet (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) may support criminal charges (stalking, threats of terrorism, unlawful posting, use of the computer to commit a crime) or create an unsavory profile of your child. This is especially true when the text messages or internet posts are of a sexual or violent nature. The posts may be used as evidence by the prosecutor or considered by the court in various ways. Being proactive about how your child uses a cellphone or the internet is therefore imperative. Once under an investigation or in the juvenile system, we invariably recommend that our juvenile clients shut down any social media sites or refrain from texting or posting anything on the internet.
Avoidance of Juvenile Record, Identifying Reasons for Juvenile Misconduct
Identifying the underlying reasons for the juvenile’s behavior is something that we explore at the first consultation. We know that a child can get in trouble by having the wrong friends, peer pressure or engaging in a prank or activity that gets out of control. We may strongly urge counseling when a juvenile has a psychological disorder, substance abuse/alcohol problem or suffers from PTSD or other stressors.
The ABDO LAW FIRM will protect all of your child’s rights in the Macomb County Juvenile Court. A juvenile criminal record is a stigma that can be detrimental when applying for college or seeking employment. Our experienced juvenile attorneys will fight to avoid harsh the consequences of a juvenile conviction. In many cases, we may be able to gain a dismissal by having the petition dismissed or placed on “consent calendar”. In addition, there may be times when reduction of a felony to a misdemeanor (minor offense) is a positive outcome. We achieve these goals by knowing how to work with the court, the prosecuting attorney and the police.
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