Alabama law enforcement arrests minors every day. Officers may arrest minors for crimes ranging from shoplifting to first-degree homicide. Alabama courts determine how to charge minors for crimes the state accuses them of committing.
If your child was recently arrested or may be charged for a crime as an adult, you need to read on.
1. Detention Hearings Occur Within 72 Hours
When a child is arrested, the court must hold a detention or shelter care hearing within the first 72 hours. These hours include holidays and weekends. You would be wise to find legal counsel for your child during this time.
2. Juveniles Can Be Prosecuted as Adults
Being charged as an adult sometimes comes with adult sentencing, even for children as young as 14.
One instance is with a discretionary judicial waiver. A prosecutor can file a movement to transfer the case to adult court if a child is over the age of 14. The court will hold a hearing regarding the matter.
If the child is 16 years or older, a statutory exclusion may apply if the crime fits the requirements. These crimes include drug trafficking and any capital offenses (like murder).
3. Youthful Offender Status Comes With Alternatives to Jail
Children charged as juveniles may access alternative punishments that prevent them from going to jail. For instance, they may be eligible for boot camp programs rather than juvenile detention.
Juvenile drug court is also available for minors. The program involves supervised treatment for addiction and random testing.
4. Parents Have the Right to Knowledge About the Arrest
When your child is arrested, you have the legal right to notification via telephone or other practical means about the current location of your child and why he or she is detained. You also have the right to seek counsel.
On the other hand, parents do not necessarily have the right to be notified if a child waives their right to remain silent. Additionally, a child can waive the right of a parent to be present for questioning.
5. Juvenile Records May Be Sealed
Typically, convictions for juveniles charged as such will be sealed at the age of either 18 or older. Unfortunately, juveniles charged as adults do not see the same benefit.
If you want to go a step further, your child may pursue an expungement, which requires filing a petition in court. The prosecutor may either oppose the proceedings or request a hearing. The court will consider the potential rehabilitation of the child.
6. Most Instances of Minors Charged as Adults Are Murders
When minors are charged as adults, murder is the most likely offense. As of 2012, juveniles convicted of murder may not face mandatory life without the possibility of parole in Alabama.
Of course, many juveniles received this sentence before the law was passed. The law is retroactive, so juveniles in this situation may apply for resentencing.
7. Juveniles Always Have the Right to Counsel
All stages of juvenile court proceedings allow for legal counsel to take part. In all cases in which it is likely that the court may place the child in an institution, the child must have counsel.
As the parent of a child in custody, make sure that your child has a lawyer while he or she is being questioned and detained for intake. You may not be present for questioning, but a lawyer will be.
Simms & Associates understands the fear you may experience when your child is arrested. Call our office today to learn more about legal counsel options so you can ensure your child has the best possible defense.