St. Louis Juvenile Crimes Lawyer
Protecting the Rights & Futures of Underage Clients in Missouri
No one wants their child to be convicted of a crime. Unfortunately, youths are prone to making mistakes, and if mistakes escalate to a criminal charge, parents and families need the experienced, reputable, and results-driven defense our firm can provide. The Hammer Law Firm, LLC fights on behalf of juveniles under the age of 18 charged with a criminal offense, and we are familiar with the typical forms of leniency, alternative resolutions, and legal procedures that can help young clients resolve their cases and take the steps toward a productive future.
Is your child facing juvenile charges? Call The Hammer Law Firm, LLC today at (314) 334-3807 or contact us online to schedule a meeting with our juvenile crimes attorney in St. Louis!
Juvenile Crime Cases We Handle
It has been proven by numerous studies that juveniles convicted of crimes run an increased risk of recidivism or returning to a life of crime and incarceration. We want to help ensure this doesn't happen and will devote the time and effort of our legal team to provide your child with any additional resources or help they need. We are prepared to deal with any issue relating to a juvenile charge, including some of the most common:
- Drug crimes, including possession and underage drinking
- DUI / DWI
- Theft and shoplifting
- Vandalism and graffiti
- Property crimes
- Violent crimes
- Sex crimes and sexting charges
- Child abuse or neglect and state protective custody proceedings related to these.
- Status offenses, such as underage drinking, truancy, or running away.
- Delinquency (criminal violations) such as gang crimes, property offenses, or theft.
Juveniles are capable of committing the same types of crime as adults. Although we have an active criminal defense practice for adult offenders, we understand that dealing with young people who have made unfortunate mistakes requires delicacy, compassion, and legal flexibility. Our St. Louis juvenile crime attorneys make it a point to work closely with juvenile offenders and their families and loved ones. We go above and beyond the often impersonal approaches, other firms use when dealing with similar cases. Our constant communication and genuine desire to help young people and their families can provide you with the necessary defense and resources.
Juvenile Crime Penalties in Missouri
In Missouri, the penalties for juvenile crimes vary depending on the offense's severity, the offender's age, and other factors. The juvenile justice system is designed to focus on rehabilitation and education rather than punishment, so penalties often involve measures aimed at helping the offender get back on the right track. Here are some possible penalties for juvenile offenders in Missouri:
- Diversion programs: In some cases, juvenile offenders may be offered diversion programs to avoid formal charges and penalties if they complete certain requirements, such as community service, counseling, or drug treatment.
- Probation: Juvenile offenders may be placed on probation, which typically involves supervision by a probation officer and adherence to certain conditions, such as attending school, maintaining a curfew, and staying out of trouble.
- Counseling or therapy: Many juvenile offenders benefit from counseling or therapy to address underlying issues that may have contributed to their delinquent behavior, such as mental health problems or substance abuse.
- Community service: Juvenile offenders may be required to serve as part of their sentence, which can help them develop a sense of responsibility and contribute positively to their community.
- Placement in a juvenile detention facility: For more serious offenses, juvenile offenders may be placed in a secure detention facility. The length of stay in such facilities varies, and they often provide educational and vocational programs to help offenders get back on track.
It's important to note that in some cases, a juvenile offender may be transferred to adult court and face adult penalties if the offense is particularly serious or is deemed unfit for the juvenile justice system.
When Will a Child Be Tried as an Adult?
In Missouri, a child can be tried as an adult for serious offenses. A judge typically transfers a juvenile case to adult court after a hearing. In Missouri, a child at least 12 years old can be tried as an adult if accused of committing a serious felony offense, such as murder, forcible rape, or first-degree robbery with a deadly weapon. Additionally, a child who is 16 or 17 years old can be automatically certified as an adult if they are accused of committing certain felony offenses, including first-degree murder, forcible rape, and first-degree assault. However, it is important to note that each case is unique, and the decision to transfer it to adult court is ultimately up to the judge. Juveniles who are tried as adults face the same penalties as adults convicted of the same offenses, including the possibility of incarceration in an adult prison.
What is the Difference Between Adult and Juvenile Court?
The first difference is that adults are charged with crimes, and a juvenile is accused of delinquent acts unless the juvenile is being tried as an adult. Unlike in adult court, there are no convictions in juvenile court. Instead, if a juvenile defendant is found guilty, that defendant is adjudicated delinquent. Juveniles aren’t sentenced but receive a disposition that details rehabilitative or punitive action.
Sealing a Child’s Criminal Record in Missouri
In Missouri, a juvenile's criminal record can be sealed or expunged in certain circumstances. Expungement is the process of removing or sealing a person's criminal record so that it is not accessible to the public. The process of expunging a juvenile's record is different from expunging an adult's record. Generally, the juvenile must first be discharged from the court's jurisdiction and complete all requirements imposed as part of their sentence.
Juveniles may be eligible to have their records sealed if they meet certain criteria, including:
- The offense was a misdemeanor, municipal ordinance violation, or a minor traffic offense.
- The juvenile has not been found guilty of a subsequent offense, including a subsequent offense committed as an adult.
- The juvenile has not been convicted of a felony or an offense involving the operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated.
- The juvenile has satisfied all of the court's orders and conditions of probation, including the payment of all fines and restitution.
- At least two years have passed since the juvenile completed the sentence.
To seal a juvenile's criminal record in Missouri, a petition must be filed in court, and a hearing will be held. If the court grants the petition, the juvenile's record will be sealed, and the offense will be treated as if it never occurred. Sealing a juvenile's criminal record can benefit future educational and employment opportunities and the individual's well-being.
Contact Our St. Louis Juvenile Crimes Attorney Today
You need legal representation if your child or any minor has been charged with a criminal offense. By securing the qualified criminal defense we can provide, you can give your child a fighting chance of moving toward a better future. Many juveniles act with a lack of judgment and are often unaware of the potential consequences of their actions. Unfortunately, the consequences can be severe and affect a child's future abilities to attend school, drive a motor vehicle, or gain employment.
Our St. Louis legal team comprises former prosecutors who draw from well-rounded legal knowledge when defending juvenile charges. We understand that patience, support, and kindness are essential to cases involving youth and we take great efforts to maintain such a demeanor when working with our clients.
Contact The Hammer Law Firm, LLC today to schedule a FREE consultation with our juvenile crimes lawyer in St. Louis!