Birmingham Juvenile Delinquency Attorney
Empathetic and Results-Driven Advocate Fighting for Your Child
The Law Office of Brad J. Latta has a personal, vested interest in each client they choose to work with, and Attorney Brad J. Latta takes an empathetic and results-driven approach to all his Birmingham cases. Especially when you are facing a legal situation as consequential as a juvenile delinquency case, you will need an experienced and accessible lawyer to walk you and your child through every step of the process.
Juvenile Court Cases in Alabama
In Alabama, a juvenile court case begins when a law enforcement officer, parent, relative, or neighbor who knows that a juvenile has committed a delinquent act or is in need of supervision files a complaint in juvenile court. Note that state law does not specify the youngest age at which a youth can be adjudicated delinquent, but a juvenile court has jurisdiction over offenses alleged to have been committed prior to a child’s 18th birthday. After a youth turns 18 years old, they will be charged in adult court. Juvenile court can retain jurisdiction over a youth until they turn 21 years old, provided that the alleged offense occurred before they turned 18.
After an individual files a complaint against a juvenile in juvenile court, a juvenile intake officer will evaluate the complaint and decide whether a formal petition should be filed with the court to start a juvenile court case. The officer will also notify the juvenile’s parents if they have been detained by law enforcement. The intake officer may decide to release the child back into the custody of their parents, place them in a juvenile detention facility, or in the case of a dependent child or a child in need of supervision, place the youth in the care of the Department of Human Resources (this is referred to as “shelter care”).
In some situations, the juvenile court may make the parents or guardian of the child a party to the juvenile court proceedings, so they may be required to pay attorney’s fees, fines, court cost, restitution, and other costs and fees. The juvenile court may also require the parent or guardian to attend parenting classes or counseling, if deemed to be in the best interest of the juvenile.
If the youth is being detained by law enforcement, a hearing must be held within 72 hours. At the hearing, the juvenile court judge will determine whether the child should remain in detention or shelter care or be released to the custody of their parents or guardians.
Note that all Alabama juvenile court case trials are heard by a judge without a jury. All juvenile cases are also closed to the public, and records of the case are confidential and may not be disclosed to anyone other than the juvenile, the juvenile’s attorney, the juvenile’s parents, the District Attorney, the alleged victims of any offense, a probation officer, and in dependency cases a representative of the Department of Human Resources.
Informal Adjustments and Consent Decrees
In juvenile court cases where there is sufficient evidence to bring the child within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, the intake officer may decide to withhold the filing of the formal petition with the court and instead make “informal adjustments” with the consent of the youth and their parents/guardian.
In an informal adjustment, the juvenile and their parents/guardian must consent to counseling by the intake officer. They may also consent to a temporary placement for a period up to 6 months, after which the intake officer may terminate the informal adjustment process and dismiss the child without any further proceedings. However, if the informal adjustment process is unsuccessful, they may terminate the informal adjustment process and then file a formal petition with the court.
In cases of a child in need of supervision, the juvenile court may decide to suspend proceedings and allow the child to be supervised under certain special conditions known as a consent decree. A consent decree is an agreement between the juvenile, their parents or guardian, and the judge that may temporarily suspend the case and place the juvenile on probation for a period of 6 months. If the juvenile fails to abide by the terms of the consent decree in probation, though, the petition will be reinstated, and the case will proceed.
Contact The Law Office of Brad J. Latta for Legal Support
If your child has been accused of a crime by the Alabama juvenile court, contact an attorney immediately for legal representation. Depending on the severity of the case, you may be able to petition for an informal adjustment instead of going straight into a trial. Attorney Brad J. Latta is an experienced legal professional who will do his best to protect your child’s rights.
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