If you are underage, or your child is suspected of a crime, you should consult an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. Among other things, a Grand Rapids or Traverse City juvenile crime lawyer at the Neumann Law Group may be able to help make sure that a child is not charged as an adult. People under the age of 17 who are accused of a crime face a different process than adults do in Michigan. However, you are right to be concerned. A conviction may haunt a child into their adulthood. A criminal conviction may affect the jobs that a child is able to get and the college or graduate programs that they may attend.Facing Prosecution for a Juvenile Crime in Michigan
The age of the child when the criminal offense was committed affects whether a matter will be tried in juvenile court or in the adult court system. Like adults, juveniles who deny their guilt are presumed innocent until they are proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and they may ask for a trial by jury. They may also exercise any of their other constitutional rights. Proceedings brought against a juvenile are known as juvenile delinquency proceedings, but in cases of serious crimes prohibited by the Michigan Penal Code, juveniles may be tried as adults.
During juvenile delinquency proceedings, a judge may refer a child to counseling under the Juvenile Diversion Act, dismiss the case, put the case on a consent calendar, or put the case on a formal calendar. When something is put on the formal calendar, charges proceed against the child.
However, under the Michigan Probate Court, people accused who are over the age of 14 when a serious crime was committed may be treated as adults. A juvenile court judge may waive jurisdiction and permit the accused to be tried in the court that would have jurisdiction if the minor were an adult. For a violent crime, children as young as 11 may be tried and sentenced as adults in Michigan.
Some actions are status offenses—crimes because of the age of the offender. For example, there are age limits associated with tobacco and alcohol, and violating those may result in juvenile criminal charges. Teenagers are often charged with under-age drunk driving. Michigan has zero tolerance for any amount of alcohol in an under-age driver's bloodstream.
Moreover, children may also be charged with crimes such as sexual assault, drug crimes, assault, gang violence, or theft offenses. Sex crime charges are increasingly common. In order to consent to sexual activity, someone must be at least 16 years old in Michigan. Even if the offender is also underage, they may be charged in juvenile court with statutory rape for engaging in sexual conduct with someone who is under the age of 16.
Similarly, teenagers and kids may be charged with child pornography for sexting, which involves sending or receiving sexually explicit messages through smart phones or email. In Michigan, it is a crime to create, copy, produce, or finance child pornography or convince a minor to engage in the making of it. The defendant must know or have reason to know that the person who is the subject of the pornography is under the age of 18. Sometimes it is possible to get a child pornography charge reduced to a distribution of obscene material charge, which is less serious.
When a child is found guilty or admits to a crime in juvenile court, a disposition will be entered. The disposition may require the child to participate in anger management, substance abuse counseling, community service, or educational programs. It may also require the child to live in a facility or put them on probation. Between the ages of 17 and 24, an accused person may be eligible for special sentencing under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act. However, a child may also face much harsher penalties in adult court, such as imprisonment, and it is important to retain a juvenile crime attorney who is experienced in this area of the law to fully protect a child’s rights.Retain a Juvenile Crime Lawyer in Grand Rapids or Traverse City
Juvenile crimes are taken seriously, particularly if an older child and a serious crime are involved. An experienced Traverse City or Grand Rapids juvenile crime attorney can examine all of the possible angles in the situation and fight to get the charges dismissed or reduced. Kelly Neumann is an award-winning trial attorney who can use her experience to help make sure that your child's future is protected. The Neumann Law Group also represents defendants in Ann Arbor, Flint, Lansing, Kalamazoo, Detroit, Wyoming, Saginaw, Muskegon, Midland, Holland, Warren, Petoskey, and communities throughout the Upper Peninsula. Contact us at 800-525-NEUMANN or via our online form to set up a free appointment. We also can assist adults who are seeking a criminal defense or traffic ticket attorney to protect their rights.