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Should You Let Your Child Suffer The Consequences Of A Criminal Charge?

What do you do if your child is accused of a crime? Do you demonstrate tough love and let your child face the charges alone, suffer the consequences and hopefully learn from the mistake? Or do you come to your child's rescue and hire an attorney to fight the charges? Before you make your decision, it is important to understand a little bit about how the Alabama juvenile justice system works.

Juvenile Court

In Alabama, the juvenile justice system was reformed fairly recently. These cases are now governed by the Alabama Juvenile Justice Act of 2008. The juvenile court has jurisdiction over people 18 years and younger who are accused of crimes. However, it is possible for juveniles accused of serious crimes to be tried as adults.

Cases handled in juvenile court follow a unique process and come with a completely different language than adult criminal court. For example, a criminal act is referred to as a delinquent act. Juveniles are adjudicated delinquent, rather than guilty.

There Are Consequences

As in adult criminal cases, the consequences vary depending on the severity of the offense. Penalties can range from a warning to a stay in a juvenile detention facility.

One of the biggest misunderstandings is that juvenile records are no big deal because they simply disappear after the child reaches adulthood. That is not the case. Juvenile records can be requested sealed, but only two years after the date of discharge.

Sealing juvenile records makes them unavailable to the general public. However, they may be accessed by employers in certain fields. If your child plans to pursue a career that involves working with or caring for children, the elderly or people with disabilities, it is important to be aware that employers in such fields may be able to see the juvenile record and make an employment decision based on it.

Educational institutions may be able to view sealed records in some circumstances, and they may take disciplinary action of their own within the two years prior to a record being sealed, and that action can be severe, depending on the school's policies.

You Can Talk To A Lawyer For Free

At Russo White & Keller P.C., we offer parents the opportunity to talk with us for free about the potential repercussions of a juvenile criminal charge and the options for fighting it. We defend against all juvenile charges, including shoplifting. We can also provide assistance with record sealing and destroying juvenile records.

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