Juvenile Criminal and Traffic charges present special concerns for parents and their children. Persons under eighteen years of age may be charged with serious criminal offenses that carry significant penalties. A minor adjudicated delinquent may be sentenced to a term in the juvenile detention center or ordered into the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice. Virginia Code §16.1-285 states that the maximum period that a juvenile may be detained is thirty-six months, or until the juvenile becomes twenty-one years of age. Juveniles in Virginia may also be certified and tried as adults in certain circumstances. Juveniles tried and found guilty as adults may be sentenced as adults in the criminal justice system.
Types of Juvenile Criminal Defense Cases
Attorney Yeargan understands that juvenile offenses require special knowledge of rules and procedures in the court system. He has handled many serious misdemeanor and felony offenses in the juvenile court system, including, but not limited to:
- Vandalism or Destruction of Property (Virginia Code §18.2-137)
- Trespassing (Virginia Code §18.2-119)
- Grand Larceny (Virginia Code §18.2-95) and Petty Larceny (Virginia Code §18.2-96)
- Reckless Driving (Virginia Code §46.2-862 and Virginia Code §46.2-852)
- Felony Drug Possession (Virginia Code §18.2-250)
- Distribution of Marijuana in Schools (Virginia Code §18.2-255.2)
- Underage Possession of Alcohol (Virginia Code §4.1-305)
- Assault and Battery and Assault and Battery on a Family of Household Member (Virginia Codes §18.2-57 and §18.2-57.2)
- Receipt of Stolen Property (Virginia Code §18.2-108)
The Legal Defense Process
Juvenile matters in Virginia are heard in special courts called the Juvenile and Domestic Relations General District Courts. These courts are considered courts not of record. In these special courts, there are no juries. The evidence is heard by judges and they determine if it meets the burden of proof to find the juvenile responsible for the offense.
Any decision of this court may be appealed within ten (10) calendar days to the Circuit Court. In this court, the client may receive a jury trial. The appeal is de novo, meaning that it is a fresh appeal with no weight given to the decision of the lower court. The juvenile may get a better or worse outcome in the Circuit Court.
Attorney Yeargan works closely with parents and their children in juvenile criminal matters. He explains the nature of all charges brought against the minor and the best possible strategies for defense. He will develop a thorough knowledge of the prosecution's case by investigating the facts and filing a motion for discovery and inspection with the court.
If the juvenile has any technical defenses to the charge, such as unlawful search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, Attorney Yeargan will prepare appropriate motions to exclude this information as evidence. It is common for the law office to file Motions to Suppress Evidence and Motions to Dismiss Charges when the facts of the individual case merit.
Witnesses to the alleged crime are also interviewed and subpoenaed, if necessary, to appear and testify in the accused's defense. If the case is weak and there is insufficient evidence for the case to go forward, Attorney Yeargan negotiates with the prosecutor (Commonwealth Attorney) to get the case dismissed or reduced to a lesser charge. This is done before the case is heard at trial by the judge.
Attorney Yeargan advises all clients that court reporters are not provided in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations General District Courts. To obtain a transcript of testimony and rulings in that court to preserve issues for appeal, the client will need to order a court reporter to appear and take down the testimony. This is an additional cost that the client should be prepared to bear. In the alternative, the attorney handling the case may request permission from the judge to audio record the proceedings. This is a free way to record testimony for future use.
Contact a Fairfax Criminal Defense Attorney Today
Contact Attorney Wilfred Yeargan today for a free, initial consultation to review your juvenile criminal case. He will meet with you confidentially and provide expert guidance and advice about your child's pending case. Attorney Yeargan advises that parents and their children make no statements to investigating authorities without first consulting with a qualified criminal defense lawyer. To set up a free consultation to discuss your call, call or send Attorney Yeargan a message online today.