A youth in Connecticut – someone under the age of 18 – who commits a misdemeanor or felony is typically charged as a juvenile. Their criminal case is then held in the juvenile justice system. There are exceptions, of course. A youth may be charged as an adult depending on the seriousness of the crime or a juvenile's criminal background. If that happens, the penalties are more severe.
At Birckhead Law LLC, our juvenile defense attorney in New Haven, Hartford, New London or anywhere else in Connecticut understands that more so than anyone, juveniles need a strong defense. Their entire futures are at risk, especially in terms of employment and education. If you are a parent, contact us today at (203) 805-7851 to schedule a free consultation – because you understand that keeping your child's record clean and making sure their futures are not at risk is imperative.
Common Juvenile Crimes in Connecticut
Juvenile crimes are those committed by someone under the age of 18.
Generally, juveniles can be charged with the same offenses as adults. Common offenses committed by juveniles include:
- Shoplifting or petty theft
- Violent crimes, such as assault
- Possession of drugs or alcohol
- Sexual offenses
The main difference between the two systems is the sentencing options available to the juvenile delinquency court. The juvenile justice system emphasizes rehabilitation. It offers alternative sentencing options such as counseling or education programs and sends defendants to a juvenile detention center rather than a jail or prison.
Juveniles Tried as Adults in Connecticut
When a juvenile defendant commits a crime, they are usually then tried as a juvenile. In certain circumstances, however, their case can be transferred to the adult system.
Relevant factors may include:
- The type and extent of the offense
- The seriousness of the allegations
- Any aggravating circumstances (for example, the use of a weapon)
- Whether the defendant understood the criminality of their conduct
- Whether the defendant is a repeat offender
The decision to transfer a juvenile case to the adult system can be made automatically as a result of the relevant legislation or at the discretion of the prosecution or judge. And once a juvenile defendant has been tried as an adult, any future charges will also be dealt with in the adult system.
When a juvenile case is dealt with in the adult system, the defendant is exposed to harsher penalties usually reserved for adults. It also excludes them from other sentencing options, such as counseling or education programs offered to juvenile offenders.
Collateral Consequences of a Conviction in New Haven, Hartford, New London or anywhere else in Connecticut for a Juvenile Offense
In addition to the penalty imposed by a court, there can also be collateral consequences for defendants found delinquent of criminal offenses.
A delinquency adjudication can disrupt a defendant's schooling, especially if they serve time in juvenile detention. A delinquency adjudication can also affect their access to education more generally. Some schools may not accept students with a juvenile court record and many colleges ask applicants to disclose any juvenile adjudications.
While many people believe juvenile delinquency records “disappear” once someone becomes an adult, this isn't the case in every instance. For example, potential employers and landlords may have access to juvenile records when running background checks. The armed forces also require applicants to disclose any juvenile adjudications.
Law enforcement and courts may also access juvenile records when dealing with an adult offender, which can increase both the category of offense with which they are charged and the severity of their sentence.
Delinquency adjudications for certain offenses as a juvenile may also require a defendant to register as a sex offender or restrict them from owning a firearm well into adulthood.
Your Rights for Juvenile Arrests in Connecticut
Both minors and their parents or legal guardians have rights when a minor is arrested in Connecticut or is asked questions as a witness in a criminal matter. Parents and legal guardians also have rights. When a right is violated, this violation can be used as part of your defense strategy. This is in part why it is critical to speak to a juvenile defense lawyer in New Haven, Hartford, New London or anywhere else in Connecticut as soon as possible.
Your Child Has Rights
The U.S. Constitution as well as the Connecticut Constitution outlines certain rights for each person, whether a juvenile or an adult. These rights include but are not necessarily limited to:
- The right to be free from any unreasonable search and seizure
- The right against self-incrimination
- The right to refuse any questioning
- The right to an attorney during police questioning
Further, when a minor is detained or arrested, the police typically have an obligation to contact a parent or legal guardian, or at least make a reasonable attempt to do so.
Parents Have Rights
As a parent or legal guardian, you have rights in cases where your child has been arrested or detained by the police. Three such rights include:
- The right to be present with your child during questioning
- The right to know the reason your child was arrested or detained
- The right to have or retain an attorney for your child
As a parent or guardian, it is always in your child's best interest to remain calm. You can request to see your child at any time while the child is in police custody.
Contact a Juvenile Defense Attorney in New Haven, Hartford, New London or anywhere else in Connecticut Today
We know that as a parent – and for that matter as a minor – you will have many questions and even more worries and fears during a criminal case. At Birckhead Law LLC, our juvenile defense lawyer will sit down with you to explain everything you need to know and keep you informed during the process.
If your child is facing criminal charges as a juvenile, get expert legal counsel to ensure they are treated fairly through the criminal system. Any mistakes could have long-lasting impacts on your child's life. Call (203) 805-7851 to schedule a free consultation with our juvenile defense attorney at Birckhead Law LLC today.