It is not unusual for young people to test boundaries. In fact, acting boldly can provide a young person with very valuable learning experiences. However, problems can arise when bold behavior runs afoul of the law. The fact is that should a minor go too far and get into serious legal jeopardy, he or she could face very negative long-term consequences.
Once a minor is taken into custody, police have some leeway regarding the manner in which to handle the case. The police may simply issue the minor a warning. Or the minor may receive a warning and be released into the custody of his or her parents or guardians. Finally, the minor may be retained in custody and referred to an officer of the juvenile court.
If the minor is referred to an officer of the juvenile court, the officer will determine if the case should be handled formally or informally. Formal charges involve going to trial. But informal charges are handled off the record.
Certainly, it is a better deal for the minor if the case is handled off the record. But there are numerous factors that can come into play before that decision is made. For example, the juvenile court officer and the prosecutor will look at the severity of the alleged crime as well as the minor's prior record. And even if it is decided the case should be dealt with in an informal manner, the minor will still likely have to appear before a judge.
Another important factor that can determine if a case can be handled off the record is if the minor has legal representation. If your child should ever be arrested, it is very important that the matter be addressed quickly and decisively. An experienced juvenile crimes attorney may be able to act on your child's behalf to help protect his or her future prospects.