Unfortunately, the large body of criminal law that exists in Missouri is used to punish juveniles as well as adults, and the same general standards apply in terms of what constitutes a crime. However, the procedures, sentencing guidelines and sometimes even evidentiary issues are quite different when it comes to adjudicating juvenile crimes, making it a somewhat confusing process when a young person is arrested and indicted for a crime.
Given this reality, the need for a juvenile defense lawyer in Missouri is that much more advisable than normal, as mistakes can be made and a strong and guiding hand is necessary in these types of situations. Attorney John Anthony Picerno has been defending the rights of juveniles for more than 10 years, and below are two items to consider if you or someone you love faces juvenile charges.
What constitutes a juvenile in Missouri?
The answer to this question depends upon the context. For instance, you must be 21 years old to purchase alcohol, 16 to drive a car and 18 to vote and to join the military. In the legal sense, the general rule is that anyone 17 years old or older can be tried as an adult. However, extenuating circumstances could allow the juvenile court to certify a criminal defendant as an adult. These circumstances include:
- A defendant under the age of 17 is accused of a serious crime, such as murder, rape or any of several other serious felonies; or
- The defendant is under the age of 17 but is a repeat serious criminal offender;
The juvenile court can, after a hearing, certify the defendant as an adult and refer the case to the “adult” court system.
What differences are there between juvenile court and adult court?
There are several important differences between the two court systems. These differences are listed below:
- Juvenile court proceedings are closed to the public;
- Juvenile court records are sealed and confidential;
- The parents of a juvenile can be held liable for up to $4,000 in damages caused by the juvenile;
- If a juvenile is convicted of a serious offense, he or she can be sentenced to a juvenile detention facility until the age of 21.
Overall, there is much mystery involved with juvenile court proceedings, as they are inherently secret in nature. That means that if you or your child has been accused of a juvenile crime in Missouri, you need the help of an experienced juvenile criminal defense lawyer. John Anthony Picerno has this experience, so contact his office today for a full consultation, as a juvenile defendant does have the same Constitutional rights as anyone else.