Lansing Juvenile Defense Lawyer
In Lansing you will see that the Juvenile justice system is quite a bit different than the adult system we typically hear and read about. The approach for punishment and rehabilitation is different, the legal terms are different, and the level of involvement expected of parents is also quite different than the regular adult system. In Lansing, the juvenile court is a part of the family court for Ingham County. A person has to be under the age of 17 to be considered a juvenile in the eyes of Michigan law. Michigan is one of only four states that automatically deems a 17-year old as an adult. This puts 17-year old’s in a legal quandary since “adulthood” requires you to be 18 years old to vote, join the military, or legally enter into any contract. At Grabel & Associates, our Lansing criminal defense attorneys treat our juvenile cases with the same level of care that we do our adult cases, while also realizing that these cases truly affect a family as a whole. One of our three statewide locations is here in Lansing, and we stand ready to defend your child’s rights in the often-confusing area of juvenile defense.
The Juvenile Process in Lansing Explained
What is a Juvenile Delinquency Action?
The first thing to understand in any Juvenile process is that when a Juvenile is facing legal trouble they aren’t technically charged with a crime, they are sent through a process called “Juvenile Delinquency Action.” A Juvenile Delinquency Action occurs when a juvenile is accused of violating a criminal law, traffic offense or status offense. They are briefly described below.
The same laws apply to juveniles as they do to adults. Any criminal offense that would be adjudicated in regular adult criminal court is subject to a Juvenile Delinquency Action for a child under the age of 17. Common offenses here include retail fraud (shoplifting), drug possession, or assault.
The juvenile court has jurisdiction over misdemeanor and felony violations of the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code. Violations of the code such as a DUI or underage driving are common here. This area is part of the overall whole of Criminal Law mentioned above.
A status offense is an example of a crime that is only considered a crime because of the age of a juvenile. If an adult were to be accused of the same actions, they would not be considered crimes. Examples of status offenses include running away from home, truancy, incorrigibility, and being a “wayward minor.”
Note: Children under the age of seven are not subject to delinquency actions since they aren’t legally considered capable of forming a criminal intent.
There are 5 steps in a Juvenile Delinquency Action
The first step in the process is where a Prosecutor evaluates a juvenile complaint and decides whether to start a juvenile delinquency action. This complaint can arise from anyone, for criminal conduct even occurring at school (Lansing Everett, Lansing Eastern, etc.).
Preliminary Inquiry and hearing:
This is the first actual court hearing. The juvenile is formally informed of their charged offense(s) and are instructed of their constitutional rights. At this stage a juvenile case can take a few different paths. A judge can remove the case from formal proceedings and offer a variety of dispositions such as a warning and dismissal, counseling, informal probation, or some other form of discipline and rehabilitation.
A pre-trial conference will be scheduled If a juvenile maintains his or her innocence of the accused crime or status offense. At this court date the prosecutor and juvenile’s defense attorney will meet to discuss any options for resolution or whether the case will go forward to a trial.
An adjudication is the determination of guilt or innocence of juvenile of a criminal or status offense. A juvenile can adjudicate his or her case with a plea of guilt prior to a trial. Cases are otherwise adjudicated in a trial. In a jury or bench trial a prosecutor must prove the juvenile’s responsibility beyond a reasonable doubt just the same way they would regarding an adult. The juvenile is not required to prove his or her innocence, it is the prosecutor’s burden to prove guilt.
Once a case is adjudicated then the case goes to the final stage known as disposition. A disposition is similar to a sentencing hearing in regular adult court. A probation agent will have met with the juvenile and put together a report with findings about the juvenile’s background, needs, and a recommendation for disposition. The judge considers this report and is required to order services and programs he or she deems appropriate for the welfare of both the juvenile and society at large. A juvenile court judge has a wide range of dispositions they can order and will tailor these items to each specific case and individual. A disposition can include, probation, fines, restitution, community service, apology letters, and counseling etc.
Note: In certain cases a juvenile who is 14-16 years old can be tried as an adult. These are uncommon circumstances but are extremely serious since the child would then be tried under the adult system which is more rooted in punishment as opposed to rehabilitation under the juvenile system. If a juvenile is charged with a felony, then it is possible that they could be tried as an adult. Take extreme caution here and call our office immediately at 800-342-7896.
Know Your Lansing Court
Juvenile court in Lansing is part of the family court in Ingham County. There are two locations:
Grady Porter Building
303 W. Kalamazoo St, 2nd Fl.
Lansing, MI 48933
Veterans Memorial Courthouse
313 W. Kalamazoo St.
Lansing, MI 48933
Our Approach to Juvenile Cases in Lansing
We have the experience of over 100 combined years of practice in criminal defense. We have the experience to understand how many facets a juvenile case can truly have. We approach juvenile cases with care and compassion. We understand that a juvenile charge affects the family as a whole, and we seek to incorporate the family while also keeping a juvenile’s legal rights in the forefront.
Juveniles have many of the same constitutional rights that adults have when facing criminal charges.
- The right to an attorney
- The right to remain silent
- The right to testify on their own behalf
- The right to confront their accuser in court
A juvenile judge can enter orders over the adult members of the juvenile’s family while that juvenile is under that court’s jurisdiction. Court orders can be made over adults that relate to the physical, mental or moral well-being of that juvenile under the court’s jurisdiction. A parent or guardian of the youth is required to be at all court hearings, unless excused for good cause. A juvenile court judge can also find the parents financially liable for the actions of their juvenile.
As you can see here a juvenile has a lot of adult rights while the parents can also bear a lot of the responsibility for the actions of their juvenile. It is important to approach these cases as a team when possible, and our team is here in Lansing ready to help you with your juvenile case
Our Defense Attorneys Are Here for You
At Grabel & Associates we are here for in Lansing and all over the State of Michigan. We stand ready to help you navigate the juvenile legal system successfully. Come see us at our Lansing office in the Boji Tower downtown at 124 W. Allegan St. Ste. 636 or contact us online for a FREE case evaluation