There is a general societal view that a bad act by a child is due to lack of life experience and immaturity. Therefore, such should not be a crime and the juvenile treated as a delinquent and limited to state-intervention until he or she is an adult. Nevertheless, because there is some overlap between implications of juvenile delinquency and adult crimes, it is important a juvenile and parents understand these to make key choices to limit its life implications.
First, a child charged with a juvenile act is entitled to be represented by counsel. This has been the law for some time and rooted in the Sixth Amendment right to legal counsel. Now a new rule—Indiana Rule of Criminal Procedure 25 makes clear a juvenile is entitled to counsel in accordance with Indiana Code Section 31-32-4-1.
Second, in cases of even younger children, serious crimes, such as murder, there may be enough social outrage or serious facts of harm, a county prosecutor seeks “waiver” of the child into adult court. Waiver may and typically is contested. If waiver occurs, then the child can be tried as an adult, and if convicted, subject to a lengthy prison sentence. Where this is the case, a juvenile trial court judge must appoint a defense attorney for the juvenile. This provision too was recently added to Criminal Rule 25, although already codified under Indiana Code Section 31-32-4-1.
Third, it is important for children and parents to understand that juvenile delinquency adjudication may have some impact on the child’s future and may have to be disclosed in certain situations, such as purchasing a firearm. Therefore, in situations where there is a social stigma associated with a juvenile delinquency, the situation must be carefully discussed between the juvenile, parents, and defense counsel. This will minimize the negative implications on future life for the delinquent.
In the final analysis, a juvenile delinquency is a serious matter that could impair a child’s adult life. An attorney may help navigate this maze. This blog post is written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. It is intended to provide general educational information. We hope it is useful. This is not a solicitation for legal services and should not be used as specific advice. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates handle delinquency throughout Indiana.