Aiken Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyer

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Children or youths that have been accused of committing a crime in Aiken, South Carolina go through the state’s juvenile justice system, which is primarily designed to rehabilitate rather than punish. Still, youths accused of crimes face consequences.

If there’s no proper legal representation, juveniles in Aiken, SC may be blamed unjustly or face unusually harsh sentences, teaching them all the wrong lessons, and eventually ruining their future educational or career opportunities.

If your son or daughter has been charged with a serious crime in Aiken, SC, you can count on the competent legal team at Johnson, Johnson, Whittle, Lancer and Staggs (JJWLS) to help them avoid incarceration or the shackles of a criminal record.

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Understanding Juvenile Criminal Defense

The South Carolina justice system considers children between the ages of 11 and 16 accountable for juvenile crimes. While the vast majority of children are charged in the juvenile justice system, violent crimes, such as murder, are typically tried as adults.

Juvenile crimes, however, are a sensitive matter for all the parties involved. Prosecutors and judges take numerous factors into account when determining penalties for such offenses, which include the child’s grades, previous criminal record, and their home environment.

At JJWLS, we have represented youths accused of a wide range of offenses, which include vandalism and burglary, use of marijuana and other drugs, underage drinking and DUI, theft and shoplifting, sex offenses, assaults, and more.

We always use a tailored approach to juvenile defense to ensure that your child is released to you at the earliest possibility as opposed to being detained in juvenile detention. If your child is facing felony charges, our team will fight attempts to have him or her transferred to adult court.

What Are the Different Types of Juvenile Criminal Charges?

A minor under the age of 17 years can be taken into custody by the state depending on the criminal charges he or she faces. However, the procedure is still remarkably different from an adult. A petition is filed with the Family Court alleging that the minor has committed a crime or status offense.

The most common juvenile charges that come about in South Carolina Family Court include:

  • Drug Possession
  • Underage DUI
  • Vandalism
  • Assault and Battery
  • Shoplifting
  • Malicious Injury to Personal Property
  • Minor in Possession of Alcohol

A “status offense” in South Carolina is an offense that’s only considered as such when it’s committed by a child/minor. The most common status offenses include:

  • Loitering
  • Incorrigibility (uncontrollable minor)
  • Truancy
  • Runaway

If you have been charged as a juvenile or are the parent of a child that was arrested, ensure that you seek legal advice from our experienced and knowledgeable Aiken juvenile criminal defense lawyers at JJWLS today.

What Are the Potential Consequences of Juvenile Criminal Conviction?

The potential consequences of juvenile criminal offenses can vary widely depending on the minor’s school attendance, criminal history, home life, as well as the severity of the crime. The minor’s age and maturity are also heavily considered when determining the consequences.

Potential penalties for juveniles convicted of criminal acts include:

  • Probation: The minor is released to a parent or guardian and is required to live under certain conditions for a predetermined time period. If the terms are violated, the minor may find themselves in jail.
  • Juvenile Detention: If the minor has been convicted of a serious crime, they can be sent to a juvenile detention center for an extended time period. The sentences usually never extend beyond the child’s 21’st birthday except in rare circumstances.
  • Expulsion Hearing: If the offense in question would be considered a misdemeanor or felony if committed by an adult, the minor’s school will be notified and they may face expulsion, but this decision is left entirely to the school.

What Are the Common Defenses in Juvenile Criminal Cases?

The most common defense strategies adopted by our legal team at JJWLS in Aiken, SC include seeking the dismissal of the charges, self-defense, as well as considering alternative options such as probation, counseling, rehabilitation, or drug treatment programs. Diversion programs are another viable option.

Diversionary programs and alternative sentencing give juveniles an opportunity for rehabilitation rather than prosecution, offering them a second chance. Minors that qualify for such programs include first time offenders, non-violent offenders, or minors with a substance abuse problem.

Diversionary programs include:

  • Restitution: The minor is required to repay victims
  • Drug Court: The minor is required to complete drug education and rehabilitation
  • Community Service: The minor is required to perform a certain number of hours assisting a non-profit business
  • Juvenile Arbitration: It is where the minor/child enters an agreement allowing a neutral third-party to decide the appropriate punishment after hearing submissions by the minor’s parents or guardians, lawyer, any victims, and law enforcement.

Is It Possible to Have Juvenile Criminal Charges Reduced or Dismissed?

If formal juvenile criminal charges have been brought, the legal team at JJWLS can help by seeking a total dismissal of the charges, favorable reduction or reduced sentence, or even fully contesting the charge in court. Expungement and record sealing can also be used to safeguard the minor’s future.

Expungement refers to the destruction of all official records of a juvenile that has been adjudicated delinquent once they reach the age of 18. Record sealing, on the other hand, refers to the act of sealing or concealing a juvenile’s criminal records from public access.

What Should You Do If Your Child is Facing Juvenile Criminal Charges?

If your child is facing juvenile criminal charges, it’s absolutely critical that you involve experienced legal counsel immediately. Working and communicating effectively with an experienced lawyer will help you easily navigate the criminal justice system since it can be overwhelming to do so on your own.

It can also be a good idea to empower your child with knowledge about their rights. You should consider having open and honest conversations with the minor, explaining the charges against them and the possible consequences.

Exploring the aforementioned alternative options to court proceedings may be possible in some cases. South Carolina offers diversion programs that focus on rehabilitation, community service, and counseling, allowing your child to learn from their mistakes and avoid a criminal record.

At JJWLS, our skilled team of juvenile criminal defense lawyers has extensive knowledge and expertise when it comes to handling juvenile cases in South Carolina. We will work diligently to protect your minor’s rights and advocate for his or her best interests.

Why Choose Johnson, Johnson, Whittle, Lancer and Staggs in Aiken (JJWLS) for Your Juvenile Defense?

If your child has been accused of a criminal offense and alleged delinquent, you may be unsure what you should do next. The answer is to talk to the experienced Aiken juvenile criminal defense lawyers at Johnson, Johnson, Whittle, Lancer and Staggs.

Here are the top 3 reasons why you should choose JJWLS for your defense:

I. Compassionate Expertise in Juvenile Defense

We understand the uncertainty and stress that a juvenile criminal charge can bring to both the minor and their family. Our lawyers have compassionate expertise in juvenile defense and provide support throughout the legal process, keeping you involved and informed every step of the way.

II. Experienced Juvenile Defense Attorneys

Our team has a wealth of experience defending juvenile clients in Aiken, South Carolina. We are well-versed in South Carolina’s juvenile justice system and have a proven record in navigating the complex juvenile cases and achieving favorable outcomes for our clients.

III. Client-Centered Approach

We are always focused on achieving the best outcomes for our clients. We always take time to assess the specific circumstances surrounding the legal issue your child faces. Our client-centered approach allows us to build a strong defense tailored to the needs and goals of your child.

We will communicate with you clearly and frequently so that you can be empowered to make decisions in your child’s case that are most favorable for your family. Our legal team will be personally involved in your juvenile crimes defense case from the very beginning.

Contact Our Aiken Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyers Today!

Every child makes mistakes, but some mistakes can derail their future. However, this does not always have to be the case. If your child is facing criminal charges in Aiken, South Carolina, you need to act accordingly to protect their name, rights, and future opportunities.

If you are a juvenile that has been charged with a crime or the parent/guardian of a minor facing criminal charges, it’s absolutely critical that you hire and retain a competent lawyer who will fight to protect that minor’s rights under the law.

The experienced and dedicated juvenile criminal defense lawyers at Johnson, Johnson, Whittle, Lancer and Staggs in Aiken, South Carolina are your best chance of defense for protecting your child’s record and thereby their future.

Call us today to book a consultation where we can discuss the legal options available to you moving forward. We look forward to your call!