DEFENDING JUVENILES IN MISSOURI
While I don't only defend juveniles, I represent people adults in criminal courts as well as all varieties of people in family cases or personal injury, I tend to focus on helping juveniles. There are a lot of personal reasons for this, however the purpose of this particular article isn't about that. It is about what makes defending juveniles in criminal court different than defending adults.
What Makes Defending Juveniles, or Kids, Different
First, juvenile cases tend to take longer. Adult defendants usually have a resolution pretty quickly. You come in, get charged, work out a deal with the court, or you take it to trial. Juvenile cases are not like that. I have to work with the court a lot more. I have to keep in contact with my client and make sure that they are doing what they need to do. I have to work to help them alter the path of their life. My hope with any juvenile client is that they won't become an adult client.
Juvenile cases can also be harder to deal with, personally. The families are sometimes not great. Sometimes they are wonderful. Sometimes a kid just makes a mistake, gets caught, and needs help to be set down the right path. Sometimes my client is trying to just find an escape from a life they don't want to be in, whether it is drugs, theft, or joyriding, or any of a number of ways of escape. The court knows this, and they know that just putting a kid in an iron cage isn't going to help them get better. The only way to do that is to keep tabs on them, and try and improve their life. Though, it isn't always easy. It can mean more frequent meetings with court officers or with social workers to make sure that my client is getting the care he needs and that everyone is doing what they can to make things better.
Courts are less sympathetic to adults. You're an adult and you are expected to behave. It is a different way of handling the case. Trying to mitigate the evidence that comes in, making sure that the client is not giving up evidence, and preserving their rights. While you still do that with a juvenile, you have more options for how you can deal with the case and with the treatment/punishment.
When selecting an attorney to represent you, or your child, it is important to have someone who is aware of the specific manner in which juvenile cases are managed. To make sure that they are looking out for you, or your child's, interests. And also that they are not treating the case the same way that they would treat an adult case.
If there is anything I can do to help you, or someone you love, in a criminal case, let me know.
Good luck out there.