The most common juvenile crimes committed in Virginia are possession of marijuana, shoplifting, underage drinking, traffic offenses, DUI, disorderly conduct, curfew violations, and vandalism. Designed to deal with legal matters associated with individuals below 18 years of age, the juvenile justice system has its own separate set of laws and procedures, but it is still very important for juveniles and parents to have the best legal representation available to defend their best interests and protect their future.
Juvenile justice in Virginia is the primary responsibility of The Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ). The department works in coordination with social services, mental health services providers, law enforcement officers, schools, and other agencies regarding the requirements of juvenile offenders, their families, and communities.
At Williams Stone, PC, we offer free initial consultations for juvenile crime situations and serve the entire region of Northern Virginia. Typical areas our attorneys represent with juvenile crime defense include Stafford County, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Prince William County, and King George County.
The Juvenile Justice Process in Virginia
Our attorneys work with Virginia juveniles accused or charged with many different types of crimes including theft and larceny, shoplifting, stealing bicycles or other recreational vehicles, vandalism, tagging or graffiti, keying cars, cutting tires, underage purchase, possession or consumption of alcohol, disorderly conduct, fighting, indecent exposure, assault or battery, bullying, possession of marijuana, illegally purchasing, chewing or smoking tobacco, curfew violations, school disciplinary offenses, traffic violations such as speeding, failing to yield, not wearing seatbelts, criminal trespass, mischief or criminal nuisance, harassment, writing bad checks, impersonating another or other types of fraud, burglary, false reporting, loitering, possessing stolen property, weapon charges, reckless endangerment, resisting arrest, lying to police officers, running from law enforcement, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, driving without a license and more.
In Virginia, whenever a juvenile is arrested and charged with any offense, including the ones listed above, he or she enters the juvenile justice system. At juvenile court intake, an intake officer is responsible for taking an informal or formal action and filing a petition. Informal actions may include counseling, referral to a crisis shelter, or other actions to divert the case from the juvenile justice system. For taking formal action and filing a petition, the intake officer determines whether the juvenile needs to be detained or released to their parents/guardians. In case of detainment is necessary, a detention hearing is held in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court within 72 hours. Witnesses and testimony are presented at the adjudicatory hearing, followed by the judge deciding whether the juvenile is guilty or not. The case is dismissed if the juvenile is found not guilty, otherwise, a dispositional hearing is held where the appropriate sanctions, services, and punishments are decided by the judge.
At Williams Stone, PC, we realize the stakes are high for juveniles facing criminal charges in VA. Our firm is recognized for the level of superior legal services we provide in Virginia juvenile criminal matters. Our attorneys take an assertive, compassionate approach to working with juveniles by addressing the immediate and long-term issues that both the child and parents may face.
Outcomes of Juvenile Crime Charges in Virginia
Juvenile Felony Convictions – All of the court records remain public record if a juvenile is at least 14 years of age when convicted of an offense that would be considered a felony if committed by an adult. A DNA sample of the juvenile is also taken and put on the Division of Forensic Science files along with other convicted felons. The child’s fingerprints and a record of the conviction are delivered to the Central Criminal Records Exchange. The records will be available to graduate schools, colleges, government agencies as well as future employers for the immediate future. A juvenile felony conviction is a very serious charge and it is in your best interest to contact a juvenile criminal defense attorney in Virginia to review your options.
Juvenile Misdemeanor Convictions – For adjudicated delinquents or juveniles convicted of misdemeanor crimes, the court records are not public records and can be accessed by only a few people and departments, including the concerned attorneys, probation officers, treatment personnel, DMV, etc. The juveniles are treated the same as adults in the sense that their photographs and fingerprints are on record with the Central Criminal Records Exchange. Although, the dissemination of police records is still strictly limited. All record information regarding misdemeanors can only be accessed by law enforcement investigations, probation officers, or prosecutors if, as an adult, the same person commits a crime and is placed on probation and/or sentenced. Also, misdemeanor records are not typically open to employers or colleges.
Juvenile Record Expungements – Any juvenile misdemeanor convictions are removed from criminal records after a juvenile turns 19 years old or five years after the offense is committed, whichever comes later. In addition, all files, records, and papers, including electronic records, associated with any juvenile justice proceedings are destroyed at the beginning of each year. However, in case of a felony, all records are retained. Traffic offenses committed as a juvenile may also stay on the Department of Motor Vehicles record of an individual until they turn 29.
Juvenile Crime Punishments in Virginia
In Virginia, juveniles can be subject to serious punishments and penalties depending on the severity of the crime or offense committed. Below are the options the courts have in Virginia if a juvenile is found to be delinquent:
- Putting the child on probation and then returning to the custody of the parents
- Deferring disposition and dismissing the case if certain conditions have been met
- Ordering alcohol/drug services, mental health treatment, community service, restitution, or other programs/classes as the court finds appropriate
- Imposing a fine not to exceed $500
- Driver’s license suspension
- Boot camp or similar program
- Putting the juvenile in a secure local facility
- Committing the juvenile to the Department of Juvenile Justice
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With juvenile crime, there can be several other consequences of which the impact is not felt until later on, including, a general embarrassment to the family, driving privileges suspended or delayed, being disqualified from receiving high school awards or future scholarships, not being accepted into some colleges, difficulty enlisting in the armed services and lost opportunities to hold select jobs and pursue certain career paths.
As a parent with a juvenile facing criminal charges in Virginia, it is very important that you understand your child AND YOU are expected to be at every hearing. A court will most likely refuse to move forward with a case if a parent or primary guardian is not present. If neither parent can make it, then the court will appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) for the child.
Due to the high risks and sensitivity associated with juvenile crime convictions, it is highly imperative to hire a good juvenile criminal defense attorney in Virginia if your child has been charged with a criminal offense. At Williams Stone, PC, we work with juveniles and their families throughout Northern Virginia. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.