Juveniles Charged as Adults in Connecticut
Most of the time, when a young person under a certain age is arrested and charged with a crime, they are charged with that crime as a juvenile, which is different than if they were charged as an adult. However, it is easy to get confused between the juvenile and adult systems in Connecticut, even though it is important to be aware of the differences and the varying potential consequences of charges in each. If you or your child has been charged as an adult when they are legally still a juvenile, it means that the case is a very serious one, and you need all the help you can get on your side.
Rehabilitation vs Punishment
In the United States, the juvenile court system is generally seen as rehabilitative, while the adult court system is seen as more punitive, and there is, unfortunately, truth to this. Juvenile offenders, whether they have been charged with a crime or a status offense (a non-criminal offense, such as being truant or a runaway), are often referred to rehabilitation programs or educational diversions, as opposed to being given jail time or other punitive consequences. Only truly serious juvenile offenses warrant detention and trial, and even at that point, a trial in juvenile court is much more geared toward rehabilitating the accused.
In juvenile court, it is also more likely that you will be able to minimize the potential consequences of the offense, even if you plead guilty or otherwise admit wrongdoing. Connecticut will often handle juvenile cases ‘non-judicially,’ meaning that juvenile offenders will be shunted into pretrial diversion programs or given another type of consequence rather than jail time. Counseling or community service are common options.
Charge as an Adult
The adult court system is much more unforgiving - at least some of the rationale is based in the fact that adults should know right from wrong and thus receive no mercy for their actions, except in highly unusual circumstances. Juveniles between the ages of 14 and 18 who have committed a Class A or Class B felony in Connecticut, such as murder or first-degree larceny, are often transferred to the adult court system because their crimes are considered serious enough to do so, especially if the accused has a previous criminal record as an adult or if they showed clear intent to commit a serious felony.
If this does happen to you or your child, be aware that the protections that might be enjoyed in juvenile court, such as the eventual expungement or sealing of your record at age 18, will disappear (there is no right to have an adult record expunged, as there is with a juvenile record). Your child will be treated like any other adult defendant - their constitutional rights will be observed, but no other kind of ‘special treatment’ - especially not the ability to potentially avoid consequences - will be given to them. Your best bet at that point is to ensure your child has an experienced attorney who will fight for them on their side.
Call a Stamford Juvenile Lawyer Today
If your child has committed a crime, it can be terrifying, even paralyzing - but the potential fallout is too great to stand idly by. Skilled Fairfield County juvenile defense lawyer Daniel P. Weiner has years of experience in fighting for the fairest outcome for juvenile defendants, in both juvenile and adult court, and the Law Offices of Daniel P. Weiner is ready and willing to try and help with your case today. Call us in Fairfield County at 203-348-5846 for a free consultation.