Understanding Juvenile Defense Sentences

It is important to know that if your child is found guilty or pleads guilty to a crime, he will be “adjudicated” a juvenile delinquent, not convicted. This means your child will not be “convicted” of a crime. If your child is adjudicated for a misdemeanor or felony level offense, he is exposed to the same penalties and sentences regardless if it is his first, second, or third offense. The possible penalties at sentencing include; probation up to two years, incarceration in detention (juvenile jail) for up to 45 days, placement out of the home for up to two years in a group home or treatment facility, or commitment to the Division of Youth Corrections (DYC). Although unlikely, it is possible your child could be sentenced to DYC on his first offense. A sentence to DYC can be up to two years for most offenses. However, a DYC sentence may be as high as five to seven years if your child is found to be an aggravated juvenile offender.

If it is your child’s first offense, they may be able to receive a deferred sentence or diversion. A deferred sentence or diversion results in a dismissal of their case after one or two years upon successful completion of the sentence. This type of plea offer is not always offered by the prosecution and is at their sole discretion.

Certain offenses are eligible for expungement. Expungement of a child’s juvenile record is not automatic. It requires a separate action with the court after the completion of the case.

If your child is accused of a sexual offense, it is important you know all the potential consequences of pleading guilty to that offense. If your child pleads guilty to any sexual offense, or an offense that has a factual basis involving a sexual offense, your child will be required to register as a sex offender. Your child will be required to register as a sex offender for potentially the rest of their life, unless you petition the court in a separate action to remove their name from the sex offender registry. However, removal of your child’s name from the sex offender registry is not automatic, it requires successful completion of sex offender treatment and a specific order from the court.

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