Category Archives: Juvenile Offense

Are Juvenile Court Hearings Open To The Public In Raleigh?

Are Juvenile Court Hearings Open To The Public In Raleigh?

Going to juvenile court with your son or daughter can be a daunting experience by itself. But how many other people will know or find out about it?

Are These Hearings Open To The Public?

Are Juvenile Court Hearings Open To The Public In Raleigh?

The short answer: in most cases, yes, they are.

  • If the case has extenuating circumstances, a judge may decide to close the courtroom to protect the juvenile. For instance, if there case contains sensitive information about the accused, the family, or any victims from disclosure of the information, the judge can keep the information from becoming public by closing it off.
  • Excluding public attendance still allows victims, their family members, law enforcement, witnesses and anyone else directly involved in the case to remain in court.
  • Records from juvenile court proceedings, however, are not available for public disclosure without a court order. This is to protect the privacy of the children involved in the proceedings. Only involved individuals can access these records, including:
    • The juvenile
    • The juvenile’s parent and/or guardian
    • The juvenile’s attorney
    • Prosecutors
    • Probation officers
    • Juvenile court counselors

Attending Juvenile Court

For anyone under the age of 18 who is accused of certain types of offenses, there are two court systems available.

The first is the criminal court system for adults, which, for juveniles, is when they commit felonies including (but not limited to) drug charges, weapons possession, assault or other form of bodily harm. This system will involve going to criminal court, standing trial, and if convicted, potential jail time or other sanctions.

Juvenile court is a slightly different approach for wrongdoers under the age of 18. While the point of criminal court is justice and incarceration, juvenile court is more focused on rehabilitation, and giving the child a chance to become an adult without a criminal record.

The next steps will depend on a few things:

  • Whether the child is considered “delinquent” or “undisciplined”
  • Whether the child is in secure or non-secure custody
  • Whether the child is charged with a misdemeanor or a felony

The next step is an adjudicatory hearing, the equivalent of a jury trial for adults. The State holds the burden of proof to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the delinquent juvenile has committed the offense he or she is accused of. For an undisciplined juvenile, clear and convincing evidence must be presented to prove the case.

A disposition hearing follows, similar to a sentencing hearing for an adult. However, because this is a juvenile court, a disposition isn’t a “sentencing,” but an individual court-ordered plan for rehabilitation. It is also designed to hold the juvenile accountable for his or her actions, and not to just dismiss them because of their age.

A judge has a range of choices when it comes to administering punishment and rehabilitation. These can include:

  • Restitution to victims
  • Community Service
  • Supervised Probation
  • Evaluation and Treatment
  • Incarceration (confinement in either a youth development center or detention center)

More information on disposition is available here and here.

Your Child’s Best Defense In Court

As a former Wake County prosecutor, Dewey P. Brinkley is now an experienced criminal defense attorney who can guide you and your child through the court process. He can defend your child against charges, fight wrongful charges and work for a more reasonable sentence if convicted. Call the law offices of Dewey P. Brinkley today (or use the online contact form) to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your child’s case at (919) 832-0307.

 

What Is Adjudication And How Is It Different Than A Conviction In Raleigh?

When a juvenile breaks the law, there are two possibilities after the arrest, depending on the type of charges involved. Underage offenders who commit minor offenses are brought into the juvenile court system. Juveniles who commit more serious crimes—drug and/or weapons possessions, assault and other felonies—are generally tried as an adult in the criminal justice system. The focus of the juvenile court system is rehabilitation and intervention, rather than punishment, the focus of the adult criminal justice system.

Definition

This term has a number of meanings in different places. Black’s Law Dictionary defines adjudication as “the giving or pronouncing a judgment or decree in a cause; also the judgment given.”

In Raleigh, North Carolina, “adjudication” in juvenile court is the equivalent of the term “conviction” for an adult in criminal court. Court proceedings are handled in state court.

What Is Adjudication?

Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney In Raleigh

Juvenile cases are similar to adult court proceedings. The trial is called an “adjudicatory hearing,” where a judge (and in some jurisdictions, a jury) reviews the evidence and determines the facts prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. If he or she has been found “guilty” in juvenile court, the verdict is called “adjudication.”

An adjudication does not always mean incarceration (also called “commitment”) as it might in an adult criminal court. Since the focus is on rehabilitation before the age of 18 (and sometimes, 21), there are a number of alternatives to jail time that a juvenile can receive.

Deferred adjudication (also called Diversion) is an alternative to incarceration that may involve probation or other conditions that the juvenile will have to meet to resolve, and possibly dismiss the charge or charges. Deferred adjudication is frequently used in cases where the circumstances of the case warrant giving the juvenile a second chance.

The Disposition is the equivalent of a sentence and is the final decision on how the juvenile’s case will be handled after adjudication. Again, rehabilitation is the goal, so the disposition can include:

  • Fines and restitution
  • Community service
  • In-home placement under supervision or probation
  • Out of home placement in commitment facilities

Disposition can also involve a specific treatment plan to address conditions in the child’s current behavior and living environment.

Adjudication is also not a matter of public record as standard criminal convictions are.

Conviction

As an adult, a conviction in criminal court is a different matter, proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual did commit the crime in question.  Depending on the severity of the charges and the outcome, fines, loss of a driver’s license, and jail time are possibilities.

While juvenile charges may, eventually, be reduced or dismissed, adult criminal convictions aren’t as easy to lose. A conviction, even if no jail time is involved, can bring difficult restrictions that may be lifelong obstacles, such as:

  • Losing the right to vote
  • Barred from holding a public office
  • Barred from serving as a juror
  • Restrictions from many types of employment that require licensure (health care workers, attorneys, barbers and cosmetologists, and others), depending on the charges

Employment restrictions may depend on the type of charges one is convicted of; but discharge from employment is also possible in occupations where “moral turpitude” is a factor. Once discharged after a criminal conviction, unemployment can also be denied.

Convictions can be expunged under certain circumstances. A skilled criminal defense attorney can help you remove a conviction from your record, or appeal if necessary.

Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney In Raleigh

Children in trouble can be a parent’s worst nightmare, but help is available. Attorney Dewey P. Brinkley is a former Wake County prosecutor who understands the court system and can help defend your child in juvenile or adult court. Call today: 919-832-0307 (or contact him online) to schedule an appointment for your free initial consultation.