Brentwood Juvenile Court Attorney
There are an array of courts in Tennessee, many of which only grapple with certain legal issues. Juvenile courts are unique in that they cover a wide range of legal matters for juveniles, or those under the age of 18 years old who have not been previously transferred to adult court. While these courts deal with status and delinquency offenses, like truancy, they also often handle cases involving child abuse and neglect, child support, paternity, visitation, and child custody. The decisions reached in juvenile court can have far-reaching consequences for the parties involved, making it especially important for those facing juvenile criminal offenses, allegations of child abuse, or involvement in a child custody dispute, to retain a Brentwood juvenile court lawyer, who has experience with these kinds of difficult issues.
What is Juvenile Court?
In Tennessee, a child under the age of 18 years old who commits a crime can be charged with delinquency in juvenile court. Like all crimes, delinquent offenses can be charged as misdemeanors, which are punishable by a fine or sentence of less than a year, or felonies, which come with harsher penalties. Some of the most commonly charged juvenile misdemeanors are:
- Evading arrest;
- Using a false ID;
- Minor vandalism; or
- Fights at school.
More serious (and violent) offenses, such as possession of drugs, aggravated assault, and sexual offenses are charged as felonies.
Youths can also be charged in juvenile court with status offenses, which are acts that are illegal only because the accused is a child. Truancy-related offenses, running away from home, and possession of cigarettes all fall squarely under this category. Traffic citations for teenage drivers can also be heard in juvenile court. If a youth is found delinquent (guilty) then he or she can be placed under the supervision of a probation officer of the Department of Children Services. For serious offenses, juveniles can, however, be committed to state custody, in one of several community-based facilities across the state, where they can obtain counseling, education, and treatment. Delinquent individuals between the ages of 13 and 18 years old who have committed serious or violent felonies and require higher security can be sent to a state-operated facility.
What Kinds of Cases Does Juvenile Court Handle?
In Tennessee, juvenile courts, besides contending with criminal cases, also deal with a host of different legal issues, including:
- Adjudication of children as abused, neglected, or dependent;
- Custody determinations;
- The establishment of paternity;
- Termination of parental rights;
- The evaluation, treatment, or commitment of developmentally disabled children; and
- The enforcement of child support for unwed parents.
Juvenile court judges can enforce its rulings like any other court, including through imprisonment and contempt.
Juvenile Court Attorneys Serving Brentwood
Cases involving children tend to be complex. Having an experienced lawyer on your team who is well-versed in Tennessee’s juvenile court system can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. To speak with one of our team members, many of whom are currently presiding, or have presided as, juvenile court magistrates about your own concerns, please call Beal, Nations & Crutcher at 615-861-2304 today.