Juvenile Matters

Making bad decisions is part of life.

Sometimes, these poor choices leave us on the wrong side of the law, and it can be difficult to shake the consequences if you are an adolescent when you engage in criminal behavior. In 2012, there were 3,941 arrests for every 100,000 youths ages 10 through 17 in the United States.

A mark on a child’s record can affect his or her future, limiting school and work opportunities. If your son or daughter is faced with criminal charges, it is important to discuss the situation with a Kentucky defense lawyer who is skilled in dealing with juvenile matters. The Carman Law Firm offers thorough, experienced representation and aggressive defense. Call us today at (859) 685-1055 or fill out this online contact form.

Although each individual and each case is unique, juvenile offenses are generally treated very seriously. In Kentucky, offenses committed by juveniles that would be a crime if committed by an adult are known as “public offenses” and include conduct such as theft, assault, drug possession, rape and weapons charges. Offenses committed by juveniles that would not be criminal adult behavior include underage drinking, truancy (skipping school), being beyond the control of parents and/or beyond control of school.

Most juvenile prosecutions in our state begin with a preliminary inquiry performed by a Court Designated Worker (CDW) who assesses the case to determine if the juvenile is eligible for any diversionary programs. The diversion process is intended to educate, instill an awareness of accountability and deter kids from getting into further trouble. CDWs monitor diversion agreements, which may last up to six months, to ensure that the juveniles comply with the conditions.  These programs often include one or more of the following:

  • Restitution
  • Community Service
  • Curfew
  • Counseling
  • Attending Educational Seminar
  • Drug/Alcohol Treatment.

If a juvenile complies with the agreement’s conditions, the case is dismissed. If a juvenile does not successfully complete the agreement, the case is scheduled for formal proceedings.

As of 2012, 13 percent of Kentucky’s detained juvenile population were status cases and 80 percent of those were truancy cases. The Department of Juvenile Justice spends $100,000 per bed each year to keep juvenile offenders locked up, totaling more than half of its $102 million budget. In fact, Kentucky has been among the states with the highest use of secure juvenile detention for non-criminal behavior, like running away or skipping school. A legislative task force studying the juvenile justice system for the past two years found that less than half of the young Kentuckians occupying those beds were considered serious offenders.

The task force also determined that kids were too often placed away from home, even when they posed no risk to public safety. Based on task force recommendations, Senate Bill 200 was drafted and passed into law, fundamentally shifting how the state responds to status offense cases, as well as non-serious public offense cases. The bill strengthens the CDW program, creates Family Accountability, Intervention and Response (FAIR) teams to connect children to services prior to formal court involvement and puts some limits on how secure detention can be used.

Whether youthful offenders are accused of committing a violent public offense or a relatively innocuous status offense, they still deserve to have their rights protected. Juvenile delinquency proceedings and outcomes can be complex, with results ranging from conditional discharge, to probation, to placement in a youth detention facility, to repayment of damages. Whether or not your child committed the crime of which he or she is accused, you should retain a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney, because being charged with a crime as a juvenile can have a significant negative impact on your child’s future.

Our experienced Lexington, KY, youthful offender lawyers will examine the details of the case and use every available legal resource to build the strongest possible defense. They have represented clients faced with a variety of criminal offenses, along with probation violations, and are well equipped to assist your son or daughter with their case. Let them assist you in protecting their rights and the record that they will carry into adulthood, affecting everything from college applications to employment opportunities. A native of Lexington, Kentucky, and a graduate of the University of Kentucky College of Law, Dan is proud to offer his services to help his community. Contact him today for a free initial consultation by calling 859-685-1055 or by filling out this online form.