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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.