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Ohio Juvenile Criminal Laws

Several members of our team are former prosecutors—and we have children ourselves. If our children ever faced charges in juvenile court, we would absolutely hire a lawyer to defend them. Many parents fear that these charges will result in a permanent criminal record or worse. The reality is that juvenile charges can change your child’s life.

Often, these charges are brought by inexperienced prosecutors who are just being taught, for the first time, how to prosecute cases — In fact, in the vast majority of cases, your child has been charged by a prosecutor who has virtually no experience in the criminal justice system. What does this mean? It means that you need to fight and fight aggressively, to protect your child’s freedom and future. Contact Patituce & Associates today to schedule a consultation with our Cleveland juvenile crime lawyers.

While some of these cases are sealed when they turn 21, there are two things to consider:

  • Most will have important goals before they turn 21, such as getting into college or trade school.
  • Many of these cases are not sealed once the child turns 21.

Ask to speak to us about the specifics of your child’s situation. The call is confidential and there is no obligation. If we agree to take on your case, our former prosecutors will go to work fighting for you right away.

We can help. Call our Cleveland juvenile crime defense lawyers at (440) 471-7784.

How Are Juvenile Crimes Different?

Criminal offenses involving minors are different than those involving adults for various reasons:

  • The juvenile justice system is one of the most complicated, misunderstood systems around. Juveniles are not given the same rights as adults, so the risk is greater.
  • As an example of juveniles not having the same right, we look at the fact that juveniles do not have an automatic right to a trial by jury. This means that almost all cases have to be tried by a single judge.
  • Also, in juvenile cases, there is no right to a bond or bail. A juvenile is either held in the detention center while their case is pending, released on home detention, or released to their parents. This, coupled with the fact that there is no right to a speedy trial for a juvenile, could mean that the child could sit in a juvenile detention center for years before their case is even heard in the courtroom.
  • Juvenile sentencing for crimes is different as well. If a child receives a criminal conviction of a felony and is shipped to prison, they can stay for anywhere from 6 months until they turn 21, it is up to the Department of Corrections. In other words, a juvenile could receive a sentence resulting in five or more years in prison, whereas an adult would, at most, serve one year. These are reasons why a Cleveland juvenile criminal attorney is needed.

As former prosecutors, we can tell you just how important it is to find a respectable, honest Cleveland juvenile criminal lawyer to represent your child if they have been charged with any crime. Juveniles are treated differently, by law, than adults—and it can often lead to some quite shocking results. These are significant rights adults enjoy that juveniles do not-another reason why an experienced Cleveland criminal attorney is required.

Juvenile DUI: Why Was My Child Charged with DUI?

In Ohio, there are numerous charges relating to driving while under the influence (DUI) of alcohol and/or drugs. One such charge for adults is taking a breath test and having a result of 0.08 or over. This is what is referred to as a per se limit. However, for someone who is underage (under the legal drinking age of 21), the per se limit is much lower. Someone who is under the age of 21 can be charged if they take a breath test and have a result of 0.02 or higher. So, your child may be charged with DUI for having a breath test result over the per se limit—even if their result was under 0.08. The penalties for underage DUI can be severe, but an experienced DUI defense attorney can help you fight them.

Will My Child Be Prosecuted as an Adult or Tried in Juvenile Court?

Juvenile crime defense attorney in Cleveland, Ohio

When a child commits a crime, in most cases, he or she will be tried in juvenile court. Punishment often involves rehabilitation and mandatory provisions to put the child back on the right path in life.

However, there are some instances where a minor can face criminal charges as an adult in Ohio. According to state law, if a minor has fulfilled a certain criterion, then juvenile courts can send the case to state court. For example, if the child is accused of aggravated murder, and they are 16–17 years of age or 14–15 years of age and have been committed to an Ohio Department of Youth Services facility, they will be tried as an adult. Likewise, whenever a child is 16–17 years of age and commits a serious felony offense, they will be tried in adult court.

In order to qualify for adult court, the minor must’ve been at least 14 years of age when the alleged crime was committed. Law enforcement must also establish probable cause to believe that the child committed a crime.

In addition to those two requirements, if both of the following are true, the minor will be tried as an adult:

  • The child will not benefit from rehabilitation or treatment in a delinquent facility.
  • The child must be legally restrained for the sake of the community’s safety.

The courts need to investigate the matter to perform a discretionary transfer to adult court. The age and mental state of the child will be subject to investigation, as well as the injuries to the victim, the relationship with the victim, and the circumstances of the crime. When the investigation concludes, a court hearing will be held to decide if there is enough evidence to try the minor in adult court.

The following are the types of offenses that automatically result in adult court:

  • Violent crimes – A minor at least 14 years old can be tried as an adult if they are charged with murder, aggravated murder, voluntary manslaughter, robbery or burglary, kidnapping, or aggravated arson.
  • Sex crimes – Those tried as juvenile sex offenders of at least 14 years old can be tried as an adult if they are charged with rape or sexual assault.

If a minor has had juvenile detention for any crime mentioned above, then their case will be held in adult court.

What If My Child Was Charged with a Felony?

As Cleveland parents, we all care deeply about the health and welfare of our children. Few things can be as horrifying for a parent as having their child charged with a felony. If your child has been charged with a felony, you need to immediately obtain experienced criminal representation for them. If your child is an adult, even though we do not really consider our 18-year-olds to be adults, the need is even more pressing.

In the juvenile justice system, a child charged with a felony faces a unique set of challenges that need to be overcome by their attorneys. A child can end up in a secure detention facility (juvenile detention) until their 21st birthday on certain charges. On top of that, a finding of delinquency (the adult equivalent of guilty) can stick with them for the rest of their life. It is all too common that an individual’s prospects for college, employment, and more are affected by a criminal record that they obtained at a young age.

Our attorneys believe that juvenile offenders deserve fair treatment by the justice system, and for this reason, it is important that these matters are handled by a skilled Cleveland juvenile defense attorney.

Handling Cleveland Juvenile Charges & Arrests

We pride ourselves on how accessible we are to our clients and to our client’s families. As former prosecutors, we understand that people can be arrested at any hour of the day—or night.

Your criminal defense attorney will thoroughly examine your child’s case to determine the most appropriate way to proceed, examining all relevant factors. In some cases, we may seek an alternative to formal judicial proceedings, such as a juvenile diversion program. These programs are often offered to young offenders who have committed minor or first-time offenses. Their primary aim is to keep juvenile offenders out of the traditional justice system and reduce the likelihood of committing repeat offenses.

If your child has been arrested or is being accused of a crime, you should take the following steps:

  • Immediately consult with a Cleveland juvenile criminal attorney. Do not let your child, if a minor, speak with the police until after you have had the opportunity to speak to someone who practices in this area. Speaking with the police will not help. The police want to investigate a crime, and they believe your child participated—nothing your child says will help. As former prosecutors, we understand the techniques the police use in conducting an investigation. It is important to call us if your child has been arrested—even if this is an adult child.
  • Invoke your right to remain silent. We all have this right: the right to remain silent. It is second in importance only to the right to hire a Cleveland juvenile criminal lawyer to aggressively fight to defend you. The police might try to make you feel guilty about exercising your right to remain silent. They might say that if you are innocent that you should talk to them. The police might yell and scream at you, and threaten you with prison if you do not cooperate. These are all bullying tactics used to get a confession that may or may not, be legitimate.

When Your Family Needs Support, Count On Our Cleveland Juvenile Defense Lawyers

As the parent or guardian of a child facing charges, you may understandably have many questions about the juvenile court system, the criminal process, and how your child’s rights will be affected by this. To ensure that your child’s future has the best possible outlook, speak to a juvenile law attorney at Patituce & Associates today.

Call us for a pressure-free, no-cost consultation. If you find yourself facing a situation where your child has been charged, contact our Cleveland juvenile crime attorneys at (440) 471-7784!

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