Memphis, TN Juvenile Delinquency Defense Attorneys
Law Firm Defending Minors Against Delinquency Judgments and Criminal Convictions in Shelby County
As children grow, mature, and learn from the world around them, it is only natural that they will make mistakes. Unfortunately, some of these mistakes can have serious consequences in both the short and long term, especially when they involve a run-in with the law. In Tennessee, juveniles can be tried for delinquency for a wide range of offenses, and in the most serious cases, they may even face adult criminal charges.
At Douglass & Runger, Attorneys at Law, we believe that juveniles deserve a strong defense just as much as adults, and we are committed to pursuing all possible options to help you or your child avoid an unnecessary adjudication of delinquency or more serious consequences. With our representation, our juvenile clients often have the opportunity to learn from their mistakes and move forward with their lives.
Types of Juvenile Offenses in Tennessee
Anyone who has been accused of an offense before he or she turns 18 is first tried in a Tennessee juvenile court. Many different actions can be considered a juvenile offense, though they range significantly in severity.
A status offense is an action that would not be considered a crime for an adult but is against the law for someone under the age of 18. Examples include truancy from school, running away from home, and smoking or possessing cigarettes. A delinquent offense, on the other hand, is an offense that would be considered a crime if committed by an adult.
As long as the trial remains in juvenile court, the defendant cannot be convicted of criminal charges, but the penalties for an adjudication of delinquency are often assessed based on whether the delinquent offense would be considered a misdemeanor or felony for an adult. Misdemeanors include many nonviolent offenses, including theft, vandalism, use of a fake ID, and possession of alcohol. Felony offenses include most violent crimes such as murder, sexual assault, and armed robbery, as well as some nonviolent offenses such as selling illegal drugs.
Sentencing for Juvenile Delinquency
Status offenses and some lesser delinquent offenses can result in a sentence of probation or home supervision, during which the offender is required to abide by certain conditions ordered by the juvenile court, which may include regular attendance at school, submission to regular drug testing, and adherence to a curfew. A violation of these conditions can result in greater consequences.
More serious delinquent offenses can result in a sentence of placement in state custody. This may mean that the offender is placed in a community-based facility such as a foster home, especially if he or she has committed a nonviolent offense. However, violent offenders can be placed in a secure custody facility for a time period that may be as long as a prison sentence for an equivalent adult offense.
Under some circumstances, a juvenile court can decide to transfer an offender’s case to an adult criminal court. This usually depends on the offender’s age, history of delinquency, and the severity of the offense for which they are facing charges. A juvenile who is tried as an adult can face the full consequences of a conviction, including fines, imprisonment, and an adult criminal record. Additionally, a minor who has been convicted as an adult will be tried as an adult for any future criminal offenses.
A Bartlett Juvenile Defense Attorney Can Help
Hiring a skilled defense attorney gives you or your child the best chance of avoiding the full extent of the possible consequences for a juvenile offense. We will fight to have the allegations dismissed if you are innocent of the charges you are facing. In cases in which an adjudication is likely, we can help you negotiate for probation, home supervision, or community placement, and we will do everything in our power to prevent your case from being transferred to criminal court. We can also help you pursue an expungement of your juvenile record once you reach the age of 18 if you are in good legal standing, which can help you avoid negative impacts on your employment and educational opportunities.
Contact a Shelby County Juvenile Delinquency Defense Lawyer
We encourage you to contact us as soon as possible when you are facing juvenile charges so that we can be by your side throughout the juvenile court process. Call us at 901-388-5805 for a free consultation. We represent clients throughout Shelby County, including in Memphis, Bartlett, Collierville, Arlington, Lakeland, Millington, Germantown, and the surrounding areas.