Youth are supposed to make mistakes. It is part of the growing up process and how they learn. However, sometimes, those mistakes, or simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time, violate Maine laws and can even result in the injury of other individuals, whether or not it was intended. If your child has been arrested for Maine Juvenile Offenses, they face potentially serious consequences; and if your child is convicted of Maine juvenile offenses, it can damage their reputation and create future problems in their adult life. The juvenile justice system is different from the regular criminal justice system, but that does not necessarily mean that it is always more lenient. The protection of a child’s future is a parent’s top priority. We at the Nielsen Group are committed to making more poor decisions not impact a lifetime livelihood.
Let’s examine what the parents, youth, and families dealing with Maine Juvenile Offenses can anticipate and how they can help themselves for their defense.
- What are Maine Juvenile Offenses?
- The penalties for Maine Juvenile Offenses
- How can Maine Juvenile Offenses be helped by a lawyer
- What is the role of the Juvenile Community Corrections Officer?
- How Juvenile Adjudication Hearings work.
Maine Juvenile Offenses Defined
What makes a crime a “juvenile crime” in Maine is the age of the accused. If the person accused of committing a crime is under the age of 18, who is also considered a minor, then the case would be heard in the juvenile criminal court. In Maine, the purpose of juvenile criminal justice is different from adult criminal justice. While adult criminal justice tends to focus on punishment and consequences upon conviction, Maine juvenile offenses tend more to focus on rehabilitation and keeping the juvenile in the community with their family to the greatest extent possible.
Maine Juvenile offenses are documented on a minor’s juvenile criminal record. Juvenile criminal records are sealed, which means that they are not available for public view. In this way, a person’s “juvie” record cannot be seen on a criminal background check, such as when applying for a job as an adult. Generally, convictions for misdemeanor crimes committed as a juvenile remain on the sealed juvenile criminal record.
However, there are some situations in which the minor commits a more serious crime, which are treated as “adult” crime such as Operating Under the Influence of alcohol or drugs. Under these circumstances, the minor would be “treated as an adult.”
In the event of a felony conviction for a minor, then that conviction is open for public view on the minor’s permanent criminal record. In this way, a felony criminal conviction as a minor could impact a person long after that person becomes an adult.
Some of the offenses that people tend to think of as “juvenile crimes” actually can be civil offenses. However, don’t let the term “civil violation” lead you to think that they are “no big deal.” Civil violations can be a big deal indeed, and especially for a minor. Some of these violations pertain to a minor’s unlawful access to alcohol or underage drinking, or pertain to the minor’s use or possession of marijuana. Substance abuse-related violations on a minor’s record can make them ineligible for federal student loans, which can impact the juvenile’s education opportunities, which ultimately impacts the juvenile’s life and future earning potential.
Sentences for Maine Juvenile Offenses
The sentence or punishment a juvenile offender receives at court depends ultimately on the specific crime the juvenile committed and the unique facts of the case. However, some of the general remedies imposed by the Court or offered by the State to resolve Maine juvenile offenses can include:
- A sentence to Probation only
- Requirements to Perform Community Service
- Requirements to Attend Alcohol or Substance Abuse counseling
- Requirements to stay in school and/or land a job
Only in the most challenging cases, such as a repeat juvenile offender, would the juvenile be sentenced to a youth detention center, which is a jail geared to house minors.
How a Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
In Maine juvenile offenses, there can be a lot of stress and worry from the teen’s parents about the minor’s future, regardless of the nature of the crime. Such a worry if often well-founded, because criminal charges acquired as a juvenile may affect a person’s future life, education, and employment opportunities, most directly in their potential ability to apply for college, certain educational programs, be eligible for federal student loans, and applying for jobs. Since there is already so much worry in Maine juvenile offenses, a criminal defense attorney is a must-have.
Here are some of the benefits of retaining a Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney:
- The Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney can answer the parents’ questions and can better explain things to the parents about the court system. In Maine juvenile offenses, I not only have one “client,” who is the teen, but because the client is a minor, I also have the minor’s parents as proxy clients, who might or might not have goals or interests in the outcome of the case that differ from those of the teen. A good juvenile criminal defense attorney can navigate the needs of both while respecting the client’s wishes.
- The Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney Knows How to Approach the Juvenile District Attorney at Court. The State designates a specialized District Attorney to handle Maine juvenile offenses. An experienced juvenile criminal defense attorney will be familiar with working with the State’s counsel, and the defense attorney will know how to best approach the Maine Juvenile Offenses at court to push for the best possible outcome.
- The Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney can suppress evidence obtained in violation of the juvenile’s constitutional rights. Even when the defendant is a minor, their constitutional rights remain, and evidence obtained in violation of the minor’s constitutional rights can be suppressed from being admitted into evidence.
The Juvenile Community Corrections Officer (JCCO)
An essential element of the juvenile criminal justice system is the Juvenile Community Corrections Officer (JCCO), who is appointed as a juvenile probation officer. In this way, the Juvenile Community Corrections Officer (JCCO) plays an important role in assuring the juvenile’s compliance with Court requirements, as well as more generally keeping the minor on the straight and narrow. Before the Juvenile Adjudication Hearing, the Juvenile Community Corrections Officer (JCCO) monitor’s the minor’s compliance with the juvenile’s bail conditions, referred to as Conditions of Release (COR). After the Juvenile Adjudication Hearing, the Juvenile Community Corrections Officer (JCCO) monitor’s the compliance with probation conditions.
Some of the Juvenile Community Corrections Officer’s statutory duties outlined in the Maine Statutes (34-A M.R.S.A. §5602) include:
- Explain fully to the juvenile all conditions of Juvenile Community Corrections Officer (JCCO) supervision.
- Stay informed as to the condition and conduct of each juvenile under their supervision.
- Utilize all means, including counseling, to aid each juvenile under their supervision.
- Provide appropriate services to juveniles reintegrating into the community after being committed to a juvenile corrections facility.
- Provide information about juveniles committed to a juvenile corrections facility.
- Investigate and keep records of investigations as directed by the Juvenile Criminal Court.
Juvenile Adjudication Hearings
Juveniles are required to attend all court dates while accompanied by a parent or guardian. This means that the juvenile cannot attempt to resolve his own court problem without having the parents involved. In adult criminal matters, there are structured “dispositional hearings,” but in Maine juvenile offenses, the juveniles attend what are called “Adjudication Hearings.” These hearings are different in that they can consider a broader range of remedies, and can take the juvenile’s age and level of maturity into account when coming to a resolution.
Contact Maine Juvenile Defense Attorney Chris Nielsen
If your child or teenager is facing Maine Juvenile Offenses, I encourage you to contact The Nielsen Group for your free legal consultation. We will take the time to answer your questions and put your mind at ease. A criminal conviction has the power to ruin a person’s life, especially if that person is a minor. Our track record of success proves our dedication to developing effective defense strategies on behalf of our clients as well as to achieving favorable results. We know what you are facing and can advise you on the best defense strategy for your circumstances.
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