Juvenile Defense: My child has been charged with a crime. What should we do?

What should I expect if a petition is filed against me for an offense?

If a petition is filed against you, you have certain constitutional rights such as:

  • the right to notice of the charges filed against you;
  • the right not to incriminate yourself;
  • the right to counsel in your juvenile defense; and
  • the right to cross examine your accusers.

You and your parents will receive notice of charges filed against you, and the date of your adjudicatory hearing (to decide your guilt or innocence). You may choose to plead guilty or not guilty during this phase. If you plead guilty or are found to be guilty the judge in your case will order a physical, psychological and mental evaluation. Once a written evaluation has been submitted, recommendations are made to the court for sentencing by the South Carolina DJJ representative, solicitor and juvenile defense attorney.

What kind of disposition or sentence could I receive?

The least restrictive disposition you could receive is probation. In South Carolina, a judge can place you on probation for a certain period of time (not past your 18th birthday). You must meet all conditions and requirements set by the judge while on probation. For example, he may require that you obey your parent’s rules at home, have no unexcused absences at school, perform community service, and pay restitution to another person for any damages. You may also have your driver’s license suspended for a period of time.  The judge may order that you be placed in a foster home, group home or a residential youth program as part of your sentence. The most serious disposition will be if you are sentenced by the judge to a secure juvenile facility for an indefinite time period (up to age 21).

Can I avoid going to court if this is my first offense?

The South Carolina Juvenile Pre-Trial Intervention Program (JPTI) is a diversion program offered in Spartanburg county to avoid going to court for first time offenders. This does not include anyone charged with a DUI, violent crime, or traffic offense punishable by a fine or points. The solicitor decides who may take advantage of this program. He considers the recommendations made by the police in their reports, and by the victims of the crime, when deciding who should be eligible for the JPTI program.

If you are accepted into the JPTI program you must meet certain requirements which may include community service hours, group counseling, proof you are in school are have a job, drug testing or paying of restitution to your victims. If you fail to meet these requirements you will be sent back to court with the original charge. If a new charge is made against you while in the program, both the old and new charges will be considered in court. If you successfully complete the JPTI program the solicitor will dismiss all charges against you. You may also have information about your arrest expunged from your record.

Is there any other way to have my records cleared?

If you only have one status offense or nonviolent offense you can petition the court to have your records destroyed. You must have successfully completed the juvenile sentence given to you by the court, and have no other pending charges against you.

If you or someone you love has been charged with a crime the attorneys of Anderson, Moore, Bailey & Nowell are here to provide you with compassionate representation in your juvenile defense. Don’t hesitate to contact us today, it doesn’t cost anything to see if we can help.

This blog is intended for general informational purposes only, and is not intended to serve as a substitute for talking to a lawyer. In fact, the first step you can take towards resolving your problem is to have a face to face conversation with one of our lawyers. Our consultations are free, they are confidential, and we can almost always schedule you an appointment the same day we receive a call.

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