The Importance of Experienced Juvenile Defense Representation

When your child has been accused of an offense and alleged delinquent, you may be unsure what to do next. The answer is to talk to an experienced juvenile lawyer as soon as possible. Here’s what you need to know about why it’s important not only to consult a lawyer right away, but also to ensure that the attorney you choose has specific experience in juvenile criminal defense.

Why Should I Hire a Lawyer if My Child Has Been Alleged Delinquent?

Many parents are unsure about whether they need a juvenile attorney when their children are accused of offenses, for several reasons. Here are some of the most common, and why you should not let them discourage you from seeking representation for your child:

  • Because juvenile proceedings are handled in a special court and described as being non-adversarial, many parents make the mistake of believing that their child isn’t truly at risk in the juvenile system. However, the juvenile court has two responsibilities: to your child and to society. Now the court must balance those interests, but your juvenile criminal attorney is firmly on your child’s side.
  • Because juveniles aren’t subject to the same punishments as adults, many parents don’t believe their children are at serious risk in the juvenile system. However, juveniles who are adjudicated delinquent can face serious consequences, including being sent to a detention center. And, even seemingly minor consequences can have an impact on other areas of the juvenile’s life.
  • Because most parents are trying to raise honest, accountable humans, they may think that the best approach is to have the child admit to what they’ve done right off the bat. But, doing so can seriously limit your options, and the consequences may be more serious than you expect. If your child is in jeopardy you’ll want a juvenile criminal defense attorney to help you rather than rolling the dice on your child’s future.

In addition to the risks associated with the misconceptions above, there are pitfalls that come with not knowing the system. An experienced juvenile attorney can help you navigate the process. Just as important, the attorney can ensure that you and your child know exactly what you need to do to give yourselves the best chance of success. That includes how you interact with the prosecution and the court, and how to navigate probation and other orders of the court.

Can Any Criminal Defense Lawyer Represent My Child?

Legally, any criminal defense attorney can represent your child in juvenile proceedings. In fact, there’s nothing in the law to prevent you from bringing your estate planning lawyer to represent your son or daughter in juvenile court. But, there are good reasons to seek out a defense lawyer who has specific experience in Florida juvenile courts.

Of course, the substantive law is very different from the law bankruptcy attorneys or real estate lawyers deal with every day and know well. But, what many parents don’t recognize is that procedural knowledge is equally important. And, an attorney who has only represented adult criminal defendants will not have the same familiarity with the juvenile justice system that a juvenile criminal attorney does.

A criminal defense attorney who is experienced in juvenile criminal defense will be able to:

  • Tell you and your family exactly what to expect as your case proceeds
  • Know what type of evidence and arguments are persuasive to the prosecutors and judges in the juvenile system
  • Understand and explain the unique resolutions that may be available in juvenile courts
  • Explain how similar cases are usually treated in the juvenile system so you have a better idea of what your child may be facing
  • Use this knowledge to negotiate for a favorable outcome for your child, perhaps even one that ends without an adjudication of delinquency
  • Prepare you for the non-judicial ramifications of an adjudication of delinquency
  • Fight attempts to transfer your child to adult court, if that is an issue
  • If a trial is in your child’s best interest, prepare for trial, hold the prosecution to its burden of proof, and argue your case to the judge

The Sooner You Speak to a Juvenile Lawyer, the Better

The more casual nature of juvenile proceedings can lead children and parents alike to serious mistakes. Just like an adult criminal defendant, a child accused of delinquency should speak with an experienced defense attorney before telling their story to law enforcement or others in the justice system.

One thing parents don’t always know is that juveniles who are accused of delinquent acts have most of the same Constitutional rights as an adult. That includes the right to counsel, but also other important rights, such as the right against self-incrimination. They also have the same protections against unreasonable search and seizure as adults. There are some limited exceptions, which your attorney can explain. But, if the charges depend on an unlawful search, that evidence cannot be used against your child.

It’s important that you are aware of any possible defenses or reasons evidence may be excluded before you make any decisions about the case.

Juvenile Defense Attorney Matthew Lufrano Can Help

Attorney Matthew Lufrano has devoted his legal career to helping both adults who have been charged with crimes and juveniles alleged to be delinquent. He has extensive experience and deep knowledge of the Florida juvenile justice system, and knows how to effectively represent your child. If your child has been accused of a serious offense that may warrant transfer to adult court, Mr. Lufrano’s dual experience will be especially useful. He is prepared to fight waiver to adult court in the juvenile system—another reason to consult an attorney as early as possible in the proceedings. But, if the case is transferred to adult court, or is one of the small percentage of cases that must be heard in adult court, he is equally qualified to fight for your child in adult criminal proceedings.

To learn more about how Lufrano Law can help your family when your child has been accused of delinquency, call 904-513-3905 or fill out the contact form on this site.