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Judges use discretion in applying penalties for juvenile crimes

Being placed under arrest is typically a very frightening and intimidating experience for a young person. It can also be extremely daunting for parents who understand the long-term implications of an arrest. Some of the stress of the situation can be allayed simply by having an awareness of what the outcome of the arrest may be.

In a prior post on this blog, we briefly covered the adjudication hearing process. Adjudicated hearings are what substitute for trials in juvenile criminal cases. During an adjudicated hearing, the judge may apply what he or she determines are appropriate punitive measures.

It is possible that measures may be applied to some or all of the charges or that some of the charges may be dismissed. It is also possible that corrective measures may be assigned at a disposition hearing that is held later.

Judges have a variety of measures, also known as dispositions, which they may apply in adjudicated cases. Probation supervision is the most common disposition ordered. But frequently, the probation is accompanied by other requirements, such as the payment of financial restitution or the participation in a community service program. Other possible dispositions include counseling or placement in a residential program.

But, for more serious charges, a juvenile could actually be incarcerated within the juvenile justice system. The length of sentences for committed cases could be anywhere from 30 days to 20 years or longer.

If your child has been arrested, having strong legal representation could make a significant difference in the severity of the requirements he or she receives. An experienced attorney could help safeguard your child's rights and work toward ensuring that the penalties imposed are not unnecessarily excessive, but rather appropriate to the circumstances.

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