Cherokee County Juvenile Defense Lawyer

The juvenile justice system deals with young people accused of breaking the law. While the adult criminal justice system punishes crimes, the juvenile justice system is supposed to be focused on rehabilitation—ideally helping juveniles mature, grow and avoid future offenses.

Still, consequences can be steep. If your teen is facing charges, a Cherokee County juvenile defense lawyer who is familiar with the complexities of juvenile court can help obtain the best outcome possible.

Understanding The Juvenile Court Process

Some juvenile crimes are considered status offenses. These are issues that are only considered illegal when they’re committed by minors, like truancy, running away, or drinking alcohol.

Delinquency offenses are more serious: actions like theft, simple assault or disorderly conduct. When a young person is found to be delinquent, it’s akin to a guilty verdict in an adult case.

There are many outcomes possible in the juvenile justice system, in part because the judge and prosecutors have more leeway than they would in the adult system. Typically, though, the process looks like this:

  • A young person commits a delinquent act.
  • Law enforcement addresses the behavior, arresting or referring the young person to the juvenile justice system.
  • The case is then sent to juvenile court.
  • In the most serious offenses, the young person is transferred to the adult court system. Some charges lead to juveniles starting in adult court, though the prosecutor or judge may choose to transfer the teen back again.
  • If the juvenile was originally arrested, or detained, the judge holds a detention hearing in order to decide if they should be held in detention or released to family until the disposition in the case.
  • The next hearing is an arraignment, where the young defendant is formally provided notice of the charges and rights. The juvenile can admit or deny the charges at this hearing.
  • If the teenager denies the charges at the arraignment, then they will have an adjudication hearing, which is a trial in juvenile court.
  • During the adjudication hearing, the judge decides if the state has proven the young person delinquent or not. There is no jury trial in a juvenile case.
  • If a judge finds the young person delinquent, a dispositional hearing determines the punishment—probation, detention, community service or other options. This disposition is similar to sentencing in an adult court. The juvenile defense representative can offer input for a disposition that’s fair and not overly harsh.

While the above is a general overview, different situations could cause different routes than what is outlined above. This highlights the importance of retaining an experienced juvenile defense attorney in Cherokee County.

Who Is Charged in Juvenile Court?

The juvenile court system typically applies to teens 16 and under. There’s a common misconception that juvenile court only handles minor issues, or that juveniles face only minor punishments. In reality, punishments can be quite serious. A judge decides the punishments in each case, without the assistance of a jury.

Depending on the charges, juveniles may be incarcerated, placed on probation, issued fines, ordered to attend counselling, or instructed to complete community service. In serious cases, a convicted teen may be committed to the Department of Juvenile Justice. A judge can also order parents to complete tasks; if they fail to do so, they can be jailed for contempt of court.

During a consultation, a knowledgeable Cherokee County lawyer could also explain the juvenile court process to help a parent or family understand their defense options.

What Types of Cases Go to Juvenile Court?

Most cases involving someone under the age of 17 who is accused of committing a crime, delinquent act, or traffic offense begin in Cherokee County’s Juvenile Court.  These types of offenses can include things like:

  • Misdemeanor Possession of Marijuana
  • Felony Drug Possession, which includes things like:
    • THC Oil
    • Xanax or other prescriptions not prescribed to the individual
    • Heroin
  • Underage Possession of Alcohol (MIP)
  • Terroristic Threats
  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
  • Theft by Shoplifting

There are certain serious offenses that always start in Superior Court for someone who is 13 or older, and other offenses potentially can be transferred to Superior Court, even if they start in Juvenile Court.

Are 17-Year-Olds Tried as Adults in Georgia?

For criminal purposes, State courts consider anyone 17 or older an adult. This often comes as a shock to young people and their families. Goergia is one of the three remaining states that uses this system. However, this could change in 2023, as teens might be given more chances at rehabilitation and avoiding a charge on their criminal record.

At Ghanouni Teen & Young Adult Defense Firm, we believe that young people do not deserve to be followed by a criminal record for life.

A strong defense, even when the teen is being tried as an adult, includes a plan to show the court that the young person is not, in fact, fully mature. A juvenile defense attorney in Cherokee County will also highlight the teen’s potential for a productive future, to argue how a criminal conviction could significantly affect that future.

When Do Juvenile Cases Move to The Adult Criminal Justice System?

Depending on a juvenile’s age and the nature of the crime in question, a teen under 16 might be tried as an adult. For offenses that don’t start in adult court, the juvenile court can make a determination to transfer certain cases to Superior Court, where juveniles will be prosecuted as adults.

For minors between the ages of 13 and 17 charged with certain serious crimes, some cases will automatically start in superior court. These offenses include

  • Murder
  • Murder in the second degree
  • Voluntary manslaughter
  • Rape
  • Aggravated sodomy
  • Aggravated child molestation
  • Aggravated sexual battery
  • Armed robbery (if committed with a firearm)
  • Aggravated assault (if committed with a firearm upon a public safety officer)
  • Aggravated battery upon a public safety officer

Sometimes, the district attorney will transfer a case back to the juvenile court. In other cases, a superior court judge will choose to transfer the case.

Because of the significant amount of discretion that the District Attorney’s Office has during the filing of charges against children under 17 years of age, it is imperative to retain a Cherokee County attorney who will work to keep the case in juvenile court or negotiate with the DA to a serious case moved back. Juvenile court is better equipped than the adult criminal justice system to rehabilitate young people and help them become contributing members of society.

When Is a Juvenile Required to Have a Lawyer?

In some cases, a young defendant can waive their right to counsel. However, in serious cases—where severe dispositions are possible—the teenager is required to have representation. Juvenile laws are different from those in adult court, and not every criminal defense attorney is familiar with them. An experienced juvenile lawyer in Cherokee County could:

  • Seek to have the case diverted before it goes before a judge
  • Move the juvenile out of detention before a hearing occurs, allowing the individual to prepare for the case from the comfort and safety of home
  • Keep the case out of the adult courts
  • Negotiate fair resolutions with the prosecutor
  • Present evidence to the judge to advocate for a disposition that’s fair
  • Expunge or seal juvenile records

Who Is Involved in Juvenile Delinquency Case in Cherokee County?

This information is provided to help parents know who is involved in the prosecution of a juvenile delinquency matter, but we DO NOT recommend contacting the judge’s office or the district attorney’s office regarding you or your child’s pending case.

Cherokee County has two juvenile court judges.  Those judges are Judge John B. Sumner and Judge Jennifer L. Davis.  More information about the Juvenile Court Judges, Program Managers, and others can be found here.

Juvenile delinquency (criminal) and traffic cases are prosecuted by the Cherokee County District Attorney’s Office.  The Cherokee County District Attorney is Shannon Wallace.  The District Attorney’s Office is located at 90 North Street, Canton, Georgia 30114.  Their telephone number is 770-479-1488. Information about the Cherokee County District Attorney’s Office can be found here.

The Department of Juvenile Justice makes recommendations about the outcomes of cases in juvenile court and supervises individuals who are placed on juvenile probation in Cherokee County.  Their office location and information can be found here.

Finally, the county’s Clerk of Court maintains records of everything that takes place in local juvenile courts. Their office location and information can be found here.

Any local law enforcement that was involved in the investigation and charging of the youth can also be involved in these cases.

Call a Cherokee County Juvenile Defense Attorney about our Client Success Commitments

We understand that we see our clients in their most challenging hour. That’s why we like to set out together with an agreement we call Our Client Success Commitments.

  • Your goals and future are our focus.
  • You will have a plan that focuses on your success.
  • You will understand the process.
  • You will be prepared for court.
  • You will have a team to support you.

With proactive representation, you can ensure that a plan is executed to get the best possible outcome. Our award-winning team has helped over 1,000 people take steps toward protecting their futures. Take the first step toward protecting your or your loved one’s future by contacting a Cherokee County juvenile defense lawyer to see if we can help. We’ll set up a Defense Strategy Meeting so that you can get clarity on your options, and we can determine if it makes sense to execute that plan together.

Ghanouni Teen & Young Adult Defense Firm

Ghanouni Teen & Young Adult Defense Firm N/a
Address
3227 S Cherokee Ln,Suite 1360
Woodstock
GA 30188
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Phone
(770) 720-6336