The juvenile criminal process is significantly different than the criminal process as it applies to adults. Where juveniles are concerned, the law has more of a goal of rehabilitating the offender than with punishing them. This means there will be options other than trials presented, in the vast majority of cases. For very serious crimes, however, the prosecutors may want to go to trial and seek a conviction.
When a child is arrested for a crime as juvenile, there’s a significant difference depending on whether the child is currently in custody or not. Most juvenile courts will go ahead and have a preliminary inquiry with the parents to determine the best course of action.
After this meeting, the district attorney’s office will determine whether or not there will be charges filed. If they do decide to press charges, the district attorney will file a Petition of Delinquency, which is similar to a criminal complaint as filed against adults. Your child will receive an appointed attorney, just as when an adult. You can also hire your own criminal defense attorney, if you prefer.
Throughout the process of dealing with the client, the district attorney and the courts may decide upon other types of action rather than going to a full trial. There will be cases, however, were the district attorney will want to go to trial and where the case will be heard in a similar fashion as would a case against an adult.
If you need an attorney for a juvenile case, be sure you get one that has experience arguing these specific types of cases. The prosecution and the defense will typically spend a lot of time negotiating ways to settle the case without having to put the child through a trial. You’ll need an attorney who understands what to be expected in these situations and who knows how to get the best deal for your child.