Advocating For Your Child In The Juvenile Justice System
A criminal conviction can disrupt a life for years, even if no jail time results. When a juvenile is detained by law enforcement officials, it is especially concerning. If your child faces charges in juvenile court, it is vital to enlist the services of a lawyer who understands the differences between the juvenile justice system and the adult criminal justice system.
At Brudvik Law Office, we have extensive experience defending adults and juveniles who face charges. North Dakota’s juvenile justice system differs from the adult justice system in that it is designed to rehabilitate rather than punish an offender. Also, a juvenile will have a hearing before a judge. Jury trials are not used in juvenile matters.
A Closer Look At The Juvenile Justice System
In North Dakota, youth aged seven up to age 18 who are alleged to have committed a delinquent or unruly act fall under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court. Officials have three options for how to handle juvenile cases:
- Diversion — Referring the juvenile to a private agency or program
- Informal adjustment — The juvenile court intervenes, but no formal charge or conviction is entered
- Formal adjudication — Charges are filed and the case proceeds through the court system
The decision how to proceed is based on the seriousness of the offense, the age of the offender, whether the accused has a record of offenses, whether or not the accused denies the charges and reliability of the evidence. Only in the most serious cases is a youth ordered to be held in the state’s only youth correctional facility in Mandan.
Juveniles in North Dakota have a right to legal representation just as adults do. It is important for parents and the child to not underestimate the seriousness of the situation. A misstep in the process can result in more severe penalties than warranted. In fact, a child under 18 who is accused of a serious felony crime can be tried in adult criminal court, something that should be avoided whenever possible.
We represent juveniles in cases involving a wide range of charges, including:
- Underage possession of alcohol
- Drug possession
- Probation violation