An Experienced and Compassionate Juvenile Criminal Lawyer Can Help You Maintain a Clean Record and Safeguard Your Future.
Facing charges can be scary for young people and their families, but our compassionate and tenacious lawyers are here to help. The juvenile justice system in Massachusetts refers to juvenile charges as “delinquencies,” and a juvenile offender can be any person aged 7 to 17. Penalties range from restitution to juvenile detention and may involve court-ordered counseling.
If you or a loved one is under investigation or facing juvenile criminal charges, you may be feeling overwhelmed. Contact a juvenile criminal lawyer at Murphy & Rudolf, LLP today to discuss the details of your case: (508) 570-3037 or fill out a contact form on our website.
What Constitutes a Juvenile Crime?
Minors aged 7-17 can be charged for most crimes that exist in the Massachusetts criminal code. These charges are called “delinquencies” and are treated slightly differently than charges brought against adults for the same crimes. The most common delinquencies that a juvenile criminal lawyer can help defend against are:
- Larceny (e.g. theft)
- Aggravated assault (results in serious injury)
- Vandalism (e.g. property destruction, graffiti)
- Simple assault (e.g. fistfights, mutually consented altercations, no serious injury)
- Drug violations (e.g. possession, manufacturing, distribution)
An experienced juvenile criminal lawyer can help you face charges for any of these crimes.
Some juvenile cases are “status offenses.” A status offense refers to activity that is only criminal due to the youth’s status as a minor:
- Underage drinking or possession of alcohol
- Violating a local curfew
- Skipping school (truancy)
- Running away from home
Status offense cases are less likely to be referred to juvenile court than delinquency cases.
How Are Juvenile Crimes Prosecuted?
Massachusetts law establishes special procedures for hearing cases involving youth offenses. The law aims to treat youth as children in need of aid and encouragement, more than it aims to treat them as criminals. Similarly, Massachusetts treats status offender cases more as a child welfare issue.
Juvenile criminal activity is generally prosecuted with less severity than adult criminal activity. Generally speaking, penalties for juvenile crimes can range from restitution and/or fines to juvenile detention. Many penalties are coupled with mandatory rehabilitation or counseling. A good juvenile criminal lawyer can help push the courts to order rehabilitation or counseling rather than detention.
Despite the existence of juvenile courts, youth accused of more serious crimes, called Youthful Offenders, are still charged as adults with more punitive adult sentencing. Youthful Offenders can be committed by the Department of Youth Services (DYS) until age 21, committed to an adult program, or both. No matter your circumstances, a juvenile criminal lawyer can advocate for your rights and your future.
How Can a Juvenile Criminal Lawyer Help?
In juvenile delinquency and youthful offender proceedings, youth have the same rights and protections as adults in criminal proceedings. Specifically, this includes the right to counsel. The juvenile justice system still leaves plenty of room for direct punishment and it is important to have a compassionate juvenile criminal lawyer on your side.
- DYS – Juvenile Justice Legal Issues | Mass.gov
- Massachusetts – NJDC