What Are The Long Term Consequences Of Having A Juvenile Conviction?
Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.
If it is handled correctly, there are usually no long-term consequences for a juvenile, if they have a criminal history, as they move into adulthood. If the case was not handled correctly, and there are far too many cases that are not being handled correctly because parents and children are being psychologically manipulated by the government, then the biggest thing that jumps out at me is research I ran across a few years ago that talked about loss of lifetime earnings. What really jumped out at me about this research was that the federal government produced the research. If the federal government’s own agencies, that are pro-prosecution, are producing this information, then I think they are far more credible than otherwise.
What these research papers have shown is that if the juvenile charge is not handled correctly, and the juvenile has a criminal history that does not get automatically expunged or sealed when they turn 18, later on when they try to get a job or even apply to graduate school, they run into roadblocks. When they find jobs, they end up having less earning power than they would normally have. Not too many young people are going to sign up for a job that advertises like this. If you have any form of criminal history, we’re going to cut your pay by 10-35%, and it’s going to be a lot harder to find a job. If that were promotional campaign, I don’t think you would have too many takers. However, that is exactly what is happening to a large number of juveniles, when their cases are not handled correctly.
If the case is handled correctly, then their case will be sealed or expunged when they turn 18. The Office of the State Attorney will still have access to it, because they’ll still have those records. If the juvenile gets in a further trouble, they’ll use that for sentence enhancement later. Because of this, the handling of a juvenile case is critically important. In many cases, it is more important than how you handle an adult case. Where you run into a lot of problems with juvenile cases involves parents. Juvenile cases can end up being more expensive than adult cases, if the parents are very emotionally needy or controlling. Since their children are involved, a lot of parents tend to be both needy and controlling. I even had one case that was barely an adult case, based on the age of my client, and he was a slow-to-grow-up kind of person, so his parents had a great deal of influence. He was all of 21 years of age at the time of his arrest.
They had so much influence, and gave him such bad advice, that he went to trial against my recommendation and was sentenced to 15 years in prison when he lost. Fortunately, a last objection, literally the last objection in the trial itself resulted in a reversal on appeal, but I was no longer interested in handling that case in the trial courts again. I figured if he didn’t listen to me the first time, he would be a problem person to deal with the second time. That case went to someone else. It’s critically important for parents to understand, when they hire a competent legal counsel, to follow their advice. Do not call with the same questions over and over again, asked in a slightly different manner, hoping that the frequency of asking will change the answer. Do not do the same thing with emails. That’s distracting, and that’s precisely why many lawyers charge more for juvenile cases than they do for the same case as an adult.
How Do I Find Out About My Child’s Charges?
Juvenile cases are different in how you find out about charges. In an adult case, you can simply go online and find out. Depending on your county, you look for the court record section, click a link after typing in some information, and that case appears. Cases involving juveniles are not put up on the Internet for public consumption. In order to represent a juvenile, we cannot get information out of the system until we file our Notice of Appearance. For parents, calling the clerk’s office will not work, simply because they don’t know who you are. They don’t know you’re the parent, because you’re just an anonymous voice on the phone. They are not going to give out information. When it comes to law enforcement, unless you prove who you are, you are not going to get much information.
This is one of the most important reasons to hire a lawyer as soon as possible once your child has been arrested, because here is another thing to consider. In between the time your child is arrested and the time they are formally charged, that’s a time for the defense to do a lot of work. Most people don’t understand that, and they frequently wait until just a few days before the first court appearance before they contact a lawyer. At that point, it makes it hard to do a 4-day fact pattern report, which would require a vivid client. It also eliminates any possibility of discussing the case with the prosecutor in a timely manner before court. Although charge bargaining is prohibited in all cases by the policy of the Office of the State Attorney in just about every circuit in the state, the reality is you can discuss settlements prior to formal charging, and get a faster and better resolution.
If someone wants to find out about their child’s charges, one question, as soon as it’s answered, is going to lead to another. As soon as that question is answered, there is going to be another question, and this is going to go on for a while. After over a quarter of a century of doing this, I know all of the questions. When I speak to the parents of a juvenile and/or the juvenile involved with an arrest and prosecution, I am able to answer a lot of their questions during initial consultation, and put them at ease in terms of the procedure of what’s going to happen next. You’ll be surprised with the number of people who think that their very first court date is a trial, when it’s not a trial at all; it’s simply a formal charging. The thing to do when you learn in any way, shape, form, or fashion that your child has been arrested, or is being investigated for a criminal case, is to contact a lawyer.
Everybody has heard in a movie, a television program, or wherever that they have the right to remain silent, and that anything that they say can and will be used against them in the court of law. Nevertheless, large numbers of parents will tell their children to spill their guts to law enforcement. The child, having been raised to believe that the police are their friend, will immediately do so and damage the case pretty severely. Once you find out that your child has been arrested, contact a skilled criminal defence law firm immediately, and save yourself a lot of aggravation and suffering.
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