Juvenile Defense Lawyers Serving Everett, Kent, Lynnwood, and Marysville
Juvenile law is dramatically different from adult criminal law. When a teenager is charged with a crime, the court/prosecutor has the discretion to maintain juvenile jurisdiction or forward the case to adult court for prosecutorial review and filing of an adult criminal law complaint. At Feldman & Lee we have represented many juveniles and we work hard to ensure that our clients remain in the juvenile court system to get the second chance they deserve. If you or a teenage family member is in need of a quality advocate due to the filing of a criminal complaint, contact Feldman & Lee to consult an experienced, responsive juvenile law attorney.
Feldman & Lee, PS has offices in Kent, Lynnwood, and Marysville Washington. We also serve clients in the Everett area. Please don’t hesitate to contact us today for a free initial consultation.
Juvenile Law Cases
Feldman & Lee, PS has been helping our clients in Washington navigate a wide range of criminal matters for almost two decades. We understand how juvenile defense is a delicate matter because it involves issues that define or jeopardize your child’s future. Our defense lawyers take this responsibility seriously. We draw from a wealth of courtroom experience and combine it with skill and hard work to deliver the best possible outcome in every juvenile case we handle.
We handle juvenile law cases that involve any crime. Some of the most common that we handle include:
Minor in possession of alcohol
This may involve the crime of “minor operating a motor vehicle after having consumed drugs or alcohol”, which may be filed in either the juvenile or adult district court.
Assault/ crimes against persons
This involves serious felony and misdemeanor assault, such as attempted murder and sex offenses.
Possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia
In Washington, one must be at least 21 years old in order to possess and consume marijuana legally. Other drug offenses include possession and distribution of controlled substances and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Theft, including shoplifting and auto theft
This involves residential and commercial burglary or theft, vehicle prowl, and taking of a motor vehicle without permission.
Destruction of property, also known as malicious mischief
This refers to vandalism or any act that may have caused physical damage to the property of another.
We also represent juvenile clients who are accused of DUI and other serious traffic offenses. However, DUI and most serious traffic offenses are not handled in the juvenile justice system but rather by adult municipal and district courts.
An experienced juvenile lawyer’s timely involvement may help keep a pending case from being charged in court. Often, enlisting the legal service of a skillful lawyer can mitigate the long-term impact that may result from the detention of a minor
The Juvenile Legal System
Keeping the underage client in the juvenile system is extremely important. Our lawyers work hard to keep any juvenile from being tried as adults. In addition, we also attempt to get our clients into a “diversionary program.” A diversionary agreement functions similar to that of probation. It may involve periodically reporting to a social worker. It also may involve drug or alcohol treatment, if applicable. If a juvenile fulfills his or her diversionary agreement, the criminal record is sealed.
How are Juvenile Offenders Processed?
What happens when a minor is accused of a crime?
Washington state’s juvenile legal system gives law enforcement, prosecutors, and probation officers power in handling minors who have been accused of a crime.
Charges that have been brought against a juvenile offender begin with an arrest by the police, which can be made with a court order or the court finding probable cause to effectuate arrest.
Once the arrest has been made, the arresting law enforcement officer may turn the juvenile offender over to their parents or legal guardian. The officer may also turn the case over to the prosecutor, who then decides how to handle the case. It is the prosecutor who determines whether charges should be filed against the minor and which ones, but they are not required to file any charges.
At this point in the criminal court proceeding, the parents or legal guardians of minors who are being accused with a crime are advised to contact an attorney.
The Difference Between Juvenile vs. Criminal Court
Juvenile offenses are not tried in a criminal court.
In some cases, however, the severity of a crime may cause prosecutors to decline to file charges with the juvenile court system and request that the case be transferred instead to adult court. This is a crucial time to connect with an attorney, who can fight against transferring the case to adult criminal court. Being charged as an adult may leave the minor vulnerable to more severe consequences that will taint the child’s record for life.
The judge will hear from the prosecutor and defense counsel before deciding whether to transfer the case to adult court or keep it in juvenile court. The judge’s decision may be based on:
- The prior criminal record of the minor involved.
- The crime committed. Sex crimes and violent crimes are seen as the most serious offenses that may cause a case to be transferred to adult court.
- The age of the juvenile offender. Minors aged 16 or older face a greater chance of being charged as an adult.
Juvenile offenders are not tried as adults in all cases because the law prefers to help juveniles learn from their mistakes instead of handing out life-changing criminal sentences. While juvenile punishments are not nearly as severe as those seen by adults, the hope is minors will get the help they need before they become adults.
Helping Your Child Avoid Lifelong Consequences
In Washington state, the juvenile justice system takes an approach that’s significantly different from that of the adult system. The adult system focuses on retribution while the Juvenile Justice System’s goal is rehabilitation. That means helping offenders set their mistakes straight and lead a better path in life.
While the juvenile system uses a rehabilitative approach, youth offenders may still face penalties that are not too different from those faced by adult convicts: incarceration, fines, community service, and a tarnished reputation.
Especially considering that we are dealing with juveniles — children — it becomes more important to receive the best defense possible. Feldman & Lee, PS understands that no child should take a negative trajectory that may have lifelong consequences. A child should not have their educational and career choices jeopardized because of one mistake. You can trust our legal team to help defend your child’s rights and protect their best interests in the juvenile justice system.
To learn more about what we can do for you, contact Feldman & Lee for a free initial consultation.