Georgia Juvenile Laws
In Georgia, you are an adult for the purpose of criminal prosecution at the age of 17. However, O.C.G.A. §16-3-1 states that the minimum age for criminal prosecution is 13 years old because a child under the age of 13 cannot form the requisite criminal intent to commit a delinquent act. Georgia Juvenile Laws vary greatly from other criminal laws and it is important to understand them. A child facing criminal charges or delinquency proceedings needs the best representation possible. The juvenile laws in Georgia can be confusing so it is crucial to retain a Georgia Juvenile Lawyer.
Georgia Juvenile Topics
Disrupting a Public School: Before a child can be charged under this statute, the school system must take certain actions. After the school has attempted to resolve the issue and have been unsuccessful, then a student can be charged with disrupting a public school. This disruption can occur when a juvenile disrupts or interferes with a school bus, or school bus stop.
Georgia Juvenile Court Procedure: Juvenile court can be difficult to navigate. There are numerous steps and procedures and many of them differ from superior and magistrate court. Because juvenile court has its own specific rules and regulations, it is critical to hire a Georgia Juvenile Attorney.
Georgia Juvenile Search and Seizure: The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unlawful search and seizures and it also applies to juveniles. If a juvenile was searched illegally, then that evidence could be suppressed.
Interrogation Rules Involving Minors in Georgia: If your child was interrogated, you need to make sure it was done legally or else their statements could be inadmissible in court. Even if your child confessed, you should still have an experienced Juvenile Lawyer in Georgia investigate your case.
Superior Court Jurisdiction over Juveniles: There are certain limited circumstances under which a child under 17 may be tried as an adult in Superior Court. This can happen in one of two ways. The first is when a child is charged with one of the "Seven Deadly Sins," which are very serious offenses. In those cases, the case originates in Superior Court but may be transferred back to Juvenile Court. The second is called a "discretionary transfer" wherein the juvenile prosecutor asks to transfer jurisdiction to Superior Court. Whether to try a child as an adult is discretionary on the part of the State, so it is crucial to retain a Georgia Juvenile Attorney who will work to have the case heard by a Georgia Juvenile Court.
Unruly, Truancy, and Runaway Cases: These are also known as CHINS (Child In Need of Services) cases and Georgia has its own particular laws relating to these types of cases. The Georgia code acknowledges that sometimes kids engage in problematic behaviors that do not rise to the level of a criminal offense.
Can A Child Be Prosecuted As An Adult?
Yes, there are situations where a child will be prosecuted as an adult. Some of those situations include:
- Voluntary manslaughter
- Aggravated sodomy
- Aggravated child molestation
- Aggravated sexual battery
- Aggravated battery
- Armed robbery
Another way for a child to be treated as an adult in criminal cases is if the prosecutor petitions the Superior Court. This occurs in situations where the child is at least 15 years old at the time of the offense and the crime is one that would be a felony if committed by an adult.
Unruly and Delinquent
An important thing to note about Georgia Juvenile Crimes is that juveniles are not found guilty of a crime. They are determined to be either unruly or delinquent. The State of Georgia deems a child “unruly” when they need supervision, treatment, or rehabilitation. O.C.G.A. § 15-11-2 states that a unruly child means a child who is
- Habitually and without justification truant from school,
- Habitually disobedient of the reasonable and lawful commands of his or her parents, guardian, or other custodian and is ungovernable
- Has committed an offense only applicable to a child;
- Deserts his or her home;
- Wanders or loiters about the streets between the hours of 12:00 midnight and 5:00 a.m.;
- Patronizes a bar;
- Possesses alcoholic beverages;
- Disobeys the terms of supervision contained in a court order; or
- Commits a delinquent act.
An adjudication of delinquency is the juvenile equivalent of when an adult is convicted of a crime. O.C.G.A. §15-11-2 states that a delinquent child means a child who has committed a crime under the laws of Georgia or another state and is in need of treatment and rehabilitation. Because the Court does not consider children to have the criminal intent to commit a crime, they are deemed delinquent instead of convicted. With delinquency, the court, defense attorney, and prosecution develop a plan to help restore the child to the appropriate behavior. Generally, the plan includes supervision, treatment, and rehabilitation.
Will a Juvenile Conviction Transfer Over to an Adult Criminal Record?
Many people believe that Juvenile Court records are automatically expunged or sealed after a period of time. They are not. However, juveniles adjudicated delinquent in a Georgia Juvenile Court are eligible to petition the Court for a sealing of their juvenile records after "final discharge". This means that a juvenile must complete their probation or other supervision term, wait two years, and then apply for a sealing of his or her record. The child must appear before a juvenile court judge and request that his or her records be sealed. Record sealing is discretionary on the part of the judge.
Juvenile proceedings can impact your child's opportunities and create restrictions for them long into the future. While juvenile laws may seem self explanatory, defending the charges can be quite difficult and require the expertise of a Georgia Juvenile Lawyer. Do not take a chance with your child's future. Contact our offices today for a free case evaluation.