Juvenile law, governed mainly by state law, is the area of criminal law that deals with youths not of age to be held responsible for criminal acts.
Juvenile cases characteristically fall into two areas. One category involves issues with the children such as delinquency and status offenses, while the other deals with parental problems, when the Georgia Department of Family and Children Services petitions for deprivation. Regardless of the juvenile matter with which you and your family must cope, there is no substitute for trusted legal advice and guidance to help you maneuver though unfamiliar proceedings.
At the Law Firm of Paul Ghanouni in Canton, we provide legal services for clients in towns throughout Cherokee County, including but not limited to the local municipalities of Holy Springs, Canton, and Woodstock. Our casework regularly involves a wide range of juvenile delinquency, traffic violations and drug offenses, as well as assisting parents facing deprivation issues and dealings with DFCS.
The Federal Juvenile Delinquency Act defines juvenile delinquency as any act that is othewise a crime, but is committed by someone under 18 years of age. The Federal Act sets forth rules by which state laws must comply with regard to juvenile court procedures and punishments.
Persons under the age of 17 at the time of their criminal offenses are treated differently from adult offenders. Although juvenile offenders have some of the same legal rights as adults, one difference is, they do not have the right to a trial by jury. A judge reviews juvenile cases and decides the outcome; judgments range from dismissal of the case to long-term confinement in a correctional facility. Unlike the criminal justice system, which seeks punishment for criminal activity, the juvenile justice system's primary goal is developing and carrying out steps for rehabilitation.
Depending on a juvenile's age and the nature of the crime in question, a juvenile may be tried as an adult. If the juvenile court waives or relinquishes its jurisdiction, juveniles can be transferred into adult court.
The moment you are notified your minor child has a problem with the law, it is vital to retain a juvenile law attorney to obtain information about your parental rights and to protect your child's legal rights. Because of the significant amount of discretion the Georgia State Attorney has during the filing of charges against children 15 -17 years of age, it is imperative to retain an attorney who will work to keep the case in juvenile court. In the event the case goes to adult court, it is equally important to have a lawyer who understands the differences and options available in the juvenile court system and the appropriate juvenile sanctions with which to approach the court and ensure that the case is resolved with the child receiving proper sentencing.
In Georgia, when a child is neglected, abused, left without proper parental control, education as required by law or care necessary for physical, mental or emotional or morals, he/she can be found to be deprived. Any person who has knowledge of negative conditions affecting a child can file a deprivation action. The Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) may also take action in deprivation cases, if they receive a report or claim of child neglect or abuse.
DFCS gets involved with a family and attempts to work with them before court. If DFCS steps into your life, it is a vital time to have a lawyer to make sure you understand your rights and do not feel pressured by DFCS. Because DFCS doesn't always give parents all the options that are available to them, having an attorney who is familiar with all the available options is imperative to enable you to make informed decisions. The ultimate goal in hiring an attorney early in deprivation cases is to prevent DFCS from taking a child into custody and prevent your case from going to court. It is also important for parents to be aware that there are grounds for deprivation that are no fault of the parent such as inability to meet the special mental health needs of the child.
Typical grounds for deprivation include:
- Unresolved Substance Abuse Issues
- Unstable Housing
- Unstable Employment
- Failure to Protect from Domestic Violence
- Inability to Meet a Child's Special Mental Health Needs
Different from other matters that come before a court, in Georgia Juvenile Court is a closed court. Only individuals who are strictly involved in the case are permitted in the courtroom and DFCS has a Special Assistant Attorney General (SAAG) representing them in deprivation cases.
Effective Legal Help
Blending a steadfast commitment to helping juveniles get back on the right track and with strong advocacy, Paul Ghanouni provides juveniles and their parents with a level of skill and determination that can make a significant difference in the outcome of each case.
Whether a minor child in your family is accused of a juvenile offense or DFCS takes action against you, you will have questions and will need trusted legal guidance. For a no cost, no obligation initial consultation, please call the Law Office of Paul Ghanouni. We will gladly help you understand the charges your child or your family faces, and the legal options available to resolve your problem. Call our law firm at (770) 720-6336 to arrange an appointment and learn how we can help.
For information on under 21 years of age driver's license suspension click here to see our section on traffic violations.