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Juvenile Crimes

Idaho & Washington Juvenile Defense Law Firm

Juvenile crimes involve a range of illegal behaviors that are committed by individuals under 18 years of age. The usual methods involved in resolving a juvenile incident include either an officer warning, detaining the child until a parent comes to get them, or forwarding the issue to a juvenile court. If your child has been charged with a juvenile crime, seek out the guidance of Mosman Law Offices.

Examples of juvenile crimes include:

  • Curfew Laws
  • Truancy
  • Juvenile Drug Possession
  • Juvenile Weapon Possession
  • Child Alcohol Possession
  • Underage DUI
  • Juvenile Theft
  • Juvenile Vandalism

Effective July 1, 1978, the Washington State Legislature enacted the Juvenile Justice Act of 1977, codified in RCW 13.40, which represented a philosophical shift in an attempt to concentrate the state’s resources on providing treatment, supervision, and custody of juvenile offenders and to make them more accountable for their criminal behavior. There are some fairly simple terminology differences which distinguish juvenile offenders from adult offenders: juveniles are referred to as “respondents” whereas adults are referred to as “defendants”. In addition, in the juvenile court system, juveniles are not entitled to a jury, but rather trials are called “fact-findings” and tried to a judge alone. Juveniles are not convicted, but rather “adjudicated” and juveniles are not sentenced, but rather judges hold “disposition hearings”.

In Washington, there are two general types of consequences for juveniles adjudicated of offenses. The first involves “local sanctions” which are community-based consequences wherein the juvenile remains in the community or is released after a short stay in the local juvenile detention facility. Local sanctions can include up to 30 days of confinement in detention, up to 12 months of community supervision (i.e., probation), up to 150 hours of community restitution (i.e., community service), and/or up to a $500 fine.

The second involves confinement to a Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration facility or “JRA” for short. In this case, the juvenile is confined to the custody of the Department of Children, Youth, and Families to serve more than 30 days of confinement in a facility. Confinement in a JRA facility is typically done for a number of weeks within a range ordered by the court. In most cases, JRA determines the number of weeks a juvenile will serve within the range ordered by the court and provides parole services to the juvenile after release.

Depending on the offense, there are a number of possible disposition (i.e., sentencing) options available for a juvenile adjudicated of an offense, including a standard range disposition, a manifest injustice, a suspended disposition, or a deferred disposition. To determine what option is available and what the potential consequences are for each option, it is important to consult our attorneys.

With the exception of certain traffic, alcohol, tobacco, and watercraft violations, persons under the age of 18 years who violate any federal, state, local law or municipal ordinance are processed under the Juvenile Corrections Act. Juvenile cases are customarily handled in the magistrate division of the district court.

In Idaho, if the prosecuting attorney determines that there is sufficient evidence to bring a matter before the juvenile court, he or she will file a petition, which is a formal document that sets forth the specific act with which a juvenile is charged. Unless such a petition is filed, a juvenile may not be brought before the court, except to be released from detention.

Unlike an adult criminal case, a juvenile who has been charged with a crime is not entitled to a trial by jury, but rather a hearing before a judge who will determine whether the juvenile comes within the purview of the Juvenile Corrections Act.

If, after a fact-finding hearing, the court finds that the juvenile comes within the purview of the Juvenile Corrections Act, the court has a number of alternatives in making disposition (i.e., sentencing). Examples of options include:

  • The court may dismiss the case after counseling by the judge or probation officer
  • continue the case for a specific action (such as paying restitution) and then dismiss the case
  • order short- or long-term counseling
  • refer the juvenile for psychological or psychiatric evaluation and treatment
  • Allow the juvenile to remain at home subject to supervision by the court and probation
  • order commitment to a juvenile detention facility for a period of 30 days or less, or
  • commit the juvenile to the Department of Juvenile Corrections.

In felony or more serious misdemeanor cases, the court may transfer the case to the district court to be processed under adult criminal law. Under Idaho law, the juvenile must be at least 14 years of age to be tried as an adult.

To determine what options are available to you, it is important to contact our attorneys.

Accused of a juvenile crime?

We can help protect your legal rights under the law.

Juvenile Crime DEFENSE Attorneys
Wynn Mosman
Partner, Attorney at Law