Defending Juvenile Offenders in Utah
If your child has been charged with a crime in Salt Lake County, Utah, you may question whether your child will go to jail or have a permanent criminal record, or wonder if you can be criminally charged for their offense. Although most parents cannot be criminally charged for their child’s offense, if a parent contributed to the commission of the offense in any way, they can possibly be held liable as a party to the offense.
For many juvenile crimes, it will be important hire an attorney to help your child achieve the best possible defense for their particular situation. Punishments for juvenile offenses can often be harsh and have a devastating impact on your child’s future. For example, some juvenile offenses can result in a permanent criminal record, affect your child’s future employment and educational opportunities, or result in detention or imprisonment. Your child can also be charged as an adult for certain crimes if the court deems the child is old enough to be charged as an adult. Common juvenile crimes in Utah are:
Your child’s defense attorney will attempt to help your child avoid lengthy imprisonment or detention sentences. Diversion programs in Utah are available for juvenile offenders, which are more beneficial than imprisonment or detention because they provide for rehabilitation and are designed to prevent future criminal offenses.
Salt Lake City Juvenile Defense Attorney
Darren Levitt of Levitt Legal will strive to help your child receive the best possible outcome for allegedly committing a juvenile offense in Salt Lake City, Utah. Darren Levitt is experienced and knowledgeable with juvenile offenses in Utah, and will make every effort to help your child avoid severe punishments and sentencing. Call Levitt Legal at (801) 455-1743 for a consultation today.
Salt Lake City Juvenile Offender Information Center
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Utah’s Juvenile Act of 1996
According to Utah Code § 78A-6-102, juvenile courts were established in Utah for the purpose of resolving all juvenile matters brought before the court, including juvenile offenses. In the case of juvenile offenders, the court has jurisdiction to order rehabilitation, reeducation, and treatment for the offender.
A juvenile offender is Utah is considered a person under the age of 21 who has violated and federal, state or local law before their 18th birthday. A status offender is someone who commits illegal acts because of their age, such as truancy from school, violating curfew, running away from home, and using alcohol and tobacco. A delinquent youth is someone who has committed misdemeanor or felony offenses.
The Act also covers juvenile emancipation in Utah, cases where adults have neglected or abused their dependent children, and protection orders pertaining to juveniles.
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Juvenile Justice Procedure
Upon violation of a law in Utah, any peace officer, private citizen or probation officer can take a minor into custody. Once the juvenile is in custody, law enforcement officers are required to notify the parents or guardian the juvenile offender has been taken into custody, and then release the juvenile to their guardian, unless the minor is required to stay in detention for their protection or the welfare of the community.
After a juvenile has been released from custody, they will receive a referral or citation to appear at a hearing in juvenile court. Before the hearing, the offender may be asked to attend a preliminary inquiry, which is a meeting between the juvenile, their parent, court worker, and attorney. The purpose of this inquiry is for the court worker to determine if the juvenile needs to proceed to trial or if they charge can be resolved in another way.
If the court worker determines the juvenile does not need to proceed to trial, their case will be resolved through compliance of a Non-Judicial Agreement.
If the juvenile does not agree with the terms of the Non-Judicial Agreement, has committed certain offenses, has not been suggested for a pre-trial adjudication, denies the allegations, or refuses a plea bargain, the juvenile offender will proceed to trial.
At trial, the juvenile offender’s lawyer and the prosecution will present their evidence to the court to determine if the juvenile has committed the offense.
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Rights of a Juvenile Offender in Utah
In Utah’s juvenile courts, most hearings are closed to the public to protect the juvenile’s identity. Juveniles also do not have a right to request a jury trial, nor can they post bail in order to leave detention.
A juvenile does have certain constitutionally protected rights in juvenile court, including:
- The right to hire an attorney
- The right to appear in court to defend themselves
- The right against self incrimination
- The right to know the state’s accusations against the juvenile
- The right to have witnesses for your defense
- The right to a speedy trial and time to prepare a defense
- The right to an appeal
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Punishments and Consequences of Juvenile Offenders
If your child is found guilty of a criminal offense at trial, or violates the requirements of a Non-Judicial Agreement, they will be sentenced at a dispositional hearing. Your child may immediately be sentenced to the following at the hearing:
- Confinement to juvenile detention,
- Restitution to repay the victim,
- Prison sentences if charged as an adult,
- Placement in protective supervision,
- Placement on probation,
- Revocation or suspension of a driver’s license,
- Community service,
- Random drug testing,
- Counseling, and/or
- Substance abuse programs.
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Options to Avoid a Juvenile Conviction or Record in Utah
Non-Judicial Agreement - This agreement is agreed to at the preliminary inquiry between the juvenile, parent and court worker. The written agreement states the juvenile agrees to the terms of the agreement, and if the juvenile completes the terms, their case will be resolved. Typical requirements in a Non-Judicial Agreement are:
- Payment of a fine,
- Restitution for any damages,
- Community service,
- Drug or alcohol treatment,
- House arrest,
- Probation, and/or
Plea in Abeyance – The juvenile’s admission of guilt is temporarily put on hold for the juvenile to comply with terms ordered by the judge. If the juvenile successfully completes the terms, their guilty plea will be withdraw, and the charges against them will be dismissed.
Expunge a Juvenile Record – To expunge a juvenile record, one year must have elapsed since the Juvenile Court made the final disposition of the case. The juvenile must have completed all required elements of their punishment before they are allowed to expunge their record. Additionally, the juvenile offender must not have incurred an adult criminal record within one year.
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Resources in Salt Lake City for Juvenile Offenders
Juvenile Courts in Utah – These courts in Utah have exclusive jurisdiction over youthful offenders, who are under 18 years old, and the courts are permitted to sentence juvenile offenders to probation who violate any state, federal or municipal laws. This site contains information about Utah’s juvenile courts, drug courts, expungement of a juvenile record and resources about the juvenile justice process. Salt Lake County’s juvenile court is located at:
450 S. State Street
Salt Lake City, Utah 84114
Phone: (801) 238-7700
Division of Juvenile Justice Services – Utah Department of Human Services – This Department of Human Services division provides intervention, supervision and rehabilitation programs to juvenile offenders, in addition to working with other juveniles to divert them from entering into the juvenile justice system and serious youthful offenders currently confined to juvenile detention. The program can be contacted at:
Juvenile Justice Services
195 North 1950 W.
Salt Lake City, Utah 84116
Phone: (801) 538-4330
The Juvenile Court Act of 1996 – This link is to the definition, procedural requirements, jurisdiction juvenile courts, and all information pertaining to juvenile offenses in Utah. This link is directly to the Juvenile Court Act of 1996 in the Utah Code, codified as Utah Code § 78A-6.
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Levitt Legal, PLLC | Salt Lake City Juvenile Defense Lawyer
Contact Levitt Legal today for a consultation about your juvenile’s crime in Salt Lake City, Utah. It is important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to help your child find possible defenses or mitigating factors, or other ways to avoid a permanent criminal record. Contact Darren Levitt of Levitt Legal at (801) 455-1743 for a consultation about your child’s juvenile offense in Salt Lake County and the surrounding counties, including Box Elder, Tooele, Utah, Cache, Weber, Summit, Davis and Wasatch Counties in Utah.
Contributor: Darren Levitt