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Distinguishing Juvenile Delinquent Offense Handling From Adult Criminal Prosecutions

When a child is arrested or cited for a delinquent offense, they are virtually always referred to the juvenile court system. The juvenile system is not just a "smaller" version of the adult criminal system. It operates very differently from the adult criminal courts and, if your child is arrested or cited for a delinquent offense, it is imperative that you contact an attorney who specializes in juvenile offenses.

An attorney who specializes in juvenile cases knows that not all juvenile delinquent offenses go to court. Many juvenile offenses can be diverted prior to ever going to court. In fact, before a juvenile citation is referred to the District Attorney's Office for the filing of a delinquency petition, Nevada law provides that the matter must be reviewed by a probation officer with the Department of Juvenile Justice Services to determine whether the best interest of the child or the public: (1) requires that a petition be filed; or (2) would best be served by placing the child under informal supervision. If the child is placed under informal supervision and completes the terms of his supervision successfully, he or she will never be referred to court at all.

If the matter is referred for the filing of a petition, the case usually proceeds to court. However, juvenile courts operate very differently from adult criminal courts. Juvenile courts operate within the Family Court System, not the criminal court system. While adult criminal courts are designed to punish the offender and compensate the victim, the primary goal of juvenile courts is rehabilitate the offender. The language used in juvenile cases is also very different than that used in adult criminal courts. Juvenile offenders are referred to as "subject minors," not defendants. Juveniles who violate the law are said to have committed "delinquent offenses," not crimes. Juveniles are charged by way of "petition," not a criminal complaint like in adult court.

If your child or the child of someone you know is charged or cited with a juvenile delinquent offense, it is important that you contact a Las Vegas Juvenile Delinquency Attorney right away. The Las Vegas Juvenile Delinquency Lawyer can assist by providing you with the legal advice and guidance you need to effectively navigate the juvenile system and achieve the best possible outcome for your child.