Category Archives: Juvenile Attorney

Virginia Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor

What Is Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor?

This is a serious criminal charge in Virginia, governed by section 18.2-371 of the Virginia Code.  This crime is a class 1 misdemeanor, which means it has the possibility of up to one year in jail for anyone found guilty. A person might be charged with this crime for a minor neglectful act related to a child they are responsible for, or for having children with you in a place or time they shouldn’t be, or for having your children witness a criminal act that you are engaging in, such as shoplifting.

Strangely enough, this Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor can also be charged when an adult has consensual sex with a child who is older than fifteen years old. While this seems like it should be a totally different law, it isn’t. So if you are convicted of this crime, and it appears on your criminal record, an employer would have no way of knowing for sure whether you were charged because of a sex act with a fifteen year-old, or for some other reason.

Attorney for Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor

It is not at all unusual for someone to be incorrectly charged under this statute. Prosecutors sometimes read this law very broadly, and believe it covers a huge array of potentially bad choices. Not all judges agree, however, and a criminal defense attorney can help you decide whether the law was even correctly used to charge you. In addition, many people charged with Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor have perfectly valid and good defenses to the crime.

If you or a loved one have been charged with Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor, contact us for a free and private consultation on your case.

Larceny and Shoplifting in Virginia

Larceny and Shoplifting Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with Larceny, there are two basic types.  You may have been charged with Grand Larceny — meaning the government believes you stole an item or items worth $200 or more, or the charge could be Petit Larceny — meaning the government believes you stole an item or items worth less than $200. Larceny is the general term for a theft, but many people think of shoplifting. Shoplifting is one type of larceny, and when someone is believed to have stolen from a store, that person will often be charged with that crime, or with the crime of concealment.

If you were charged as a result of a shoplifting incident, there are many ways we can help. Our firm has experience handling these incidents, and there may be defenses available that you are unaware of, or ways to settle the matter privately with the retailer and avoid a criminal conviction. Every case is different, and the only way to know for sure which strategy is right for your situation is to come meet with us for a free consultation so that we can talk about the details of your shoplifting or other theft incident. Of course, a theft charge can result from other incidents that are not related to shoplifting as well.

Another form of felony theft is “from the Person”.  One way to think of this would be a pickpocket. Virginia Code § 18.2-95 says, “Any person who. . .commits larceny from the person of another of money or other thing of value of $5 or more . . .shall be guilty of grand larceny.” So a person who, without using any confrontation or violence, slipped a $10 bill out of another person’s pocket might be charged with this felony crime.

You can also be charged with a felony if you steal a firearm from anywhere. This crime is punishable by imprisonment in a state correctional facility for not less than one nor more than twenty years or jail for a period up to twelve months and a fine of up to $2,500.

Petit Larceny is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and up to a $2,500 fine.  With both charges, if found guilty, the judge would likely order the defendant to pay restitution to the victim (to pay back the victim for whatever was taken).

Our firm defends clients on these charges in courts of Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Hampton, and throughout Hampton Roads. We look for creative solutions and strategies to help our clients resolve these criminal charges in a way that best reaches their own goals. Contact us today for a free consultation on your case if you have been charged with Larceny in Hampton Roads.

 

Will My Virginia Juvenile Record Affect Me As An Adult?

I was arrested and found “responsible” for battery when I was a juvenile in a Virginia Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.  I’m 19 now and about to apply for college and a job. Since my only crime was when I was a juvenile, I don’t have a criminal juvenile record anymore right?  Isn’t it all gone once I turned 18?

This is a common misconception.  It simply isn’t true in Virginia, especially when a juvenile 14 years old or over has been found “delinquent” (the Virginia juvenile system’s word for “guilty”) for a crime that would be a felony had it been committed by an adult. In most cases, that juvenile record will be available to employers, colleges, and anyone else who is able to access criminal records for a standard background check. Even if the juvenile is under 14 years old, or was only found “delinquent” for a crime that would be a misdemeanor rather than a felony, the conviction is still part of his permanent record in the courts. In some cases, juveniles can be required to register as sex-offenders, which will be a record that follows them throughout their lives.

Juvenile convictions still count in adult court for the purposes of determining sentences on adult crimes, including “traffic” offenses like reckless driving (which is not really a traffic offense at all, but a misdemeanor crime in itself). They still matter for driving offenses too, even when the offense occurred when the juvenile was 16 years old. Judges and prosecutors will almost always have access to your juvenile record any time you have any involvement with the legal system, including on simple traffic tickets as an adult, no matter how minor your juvenile conviction was.

Parents, when your child is facing charges in the juvenile courts you would be well advised to have a lawyer for your child. You may desire for your child to receive appropriate consequences for his actions, but an attorney can help you and your child sort out exactly what those consequences will be and what they should be. While your child may need some consequences for his or her actions, a lifelong criminal juvenile record can be a punishment far too severe and a juvenile law attorney can help you find alternatives that will avoid that outcome.

 

Welcome to Juvee: What to do when your child is arrested.

It’s one of those nightmares you never want to face as a parent:  a phone call telling you that your child was just arrested, or that he is being detained by police until you arrive.  What follows that are charges of juvenile delinquency and court date in a Virginia Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.  This is more common than you probably realize, and it happens to good families and good kids.

When your teenager faces juvenile delinquency charges, stay calm.

You’re the parent. You can’t get emotionally wrapped up in what has happened, and lose sight of your most important job: raising your children. Keep the big picture in mind — if you handle this well, it could be a lesson for your child or teenager that he or she will never forget, but also not have permanent negative legal consequences on you or your family.  It can help to focus on the big picture here, and realize there are just some things out of your control.

Have your son or daughter who has been charged with delinquency write a letter to you.

Within about 24-48 hours after the incident, if your child is willing and is not in juvenile detention, ask him or her to hand-write a letter to you (not email, on paper) explaining what happened in every detail he can remember.  Tell him to use full names of people involved, times, dates, and places, and write out the whole story.  Tell him that if he lied to you or to the police, this letter is the time to just admit that, and be fully truthful. Let him know that this does not have to be an apology letter (though you may want that too!) but that you just need him to write out every detail he can remember in a letter to you.  Make sure the letter begins with a greeting that indicates it is to you, like “Dear Mom” or “Dear Dad”.  Also make sure he signs the letter and dates it. Lock it away in a safe place. Do not show it to anyone except the other parent or legal guardian, and your lawyer.  When you have hired a lawyer and you meet with him in person, ask your child to show him the letter at the first meeting. Do not talk with police, investigators, or anyone from the state about the incident until after your son or daughter has a lawyer, and then only if he advises you to.

Hire an Attorney who will meet with you and your son or daughter, and communicate with you regularly.

You probably think defense attorneys are for hardened criminals. But there are Attorneys for kids and families too. They understand the unique situation your family is in when a child is charged with a delinquency issue. For some families this has been an ongoing struggle with their child, while other families are shocked when their child is arrested or charged.  Either way, you do need an Attorney to guide you through this minefield of bureaucracy that is coming and to protect the long-term rights of your child. Some parents realize their child has committed the “crime” or delinquent act she is accused of, and want her to suffer appropriate consequences for that choice.  That may be a wise decision in some cases. But even if it is in your child’s best interest to accept responsibility for an act, you still need an Attorney to protect his or her rights, and minimize the long-term impact this may have  on your child or teenager’s future beyond this issue.  A good juvenile law attorney will also explain how the process and system works, giving you great peace of mind.  You need to hire an attorney soon after the incident; any delay can affect the number of options that will be available to you for resolving the matter.  I do offer free consultations on juvenile law matters in Virginia, feel free to contact me.

Accept that your teenager may have a variety of responses to the juvenile delinquency incident.

child-arrested-attorneySome older children and teenagers accused of crimes may feel sorry and accept what they have done. Others may truly be innocent of what they have been charged with — yet still feel a heavy sense of guilt or sorrow.  Some teens experience anger or rage — again, this experience may be present regardless of whether the child actually committed the act he’s been accused of.  Another very common reaction for teenagers is complete “shut-down” or withdraw.  They may refuse to talk at all, and hide out at friend’s houses or in their bedroom most of the day.  Still others may experience a feeling of hopelessness or fear; he or she may believe that this incident will ruin their life or their future.  Maybe you have those fears too.  When your child or teenager is cycling through extreme emotional reactions, so long as he or she is not hurting himself or others, stay calm.  Be available to your child, but do not press them for information or lecture them about their choices at this point.  When those emotions are still raw, he or she won’t internalize your message anyway.

Get help from a licensed counselor experienced in working with youth and juvenile delinquency.

Licensed Social Workers, Family Therapists, and Counselors can help your teenager and your family if you are struggling to deal with this issue, or with a repeating pattern of problems. Many of the feelings I’ve described above can be symptoms of serious mental health issues such as depression. There are resources provided by the state for families facing these issues.  You may want to check into these resources provided by the State of Virginia, and also these resources provided by the National Alliance on Mental health.

Don’t blame yourself or others.

The fact is that most Virginia families who face juvenile delinquency issues grow from the experience, as difficult as it is in the moment. Blame isn’t helpful in resolving the problem and moving past it. If you made mistakes in raising your child, welcome to the club.  So has every parent since the beginning of time. Every child has made mistakes too.  Together we must learn and grow from our mistakes by being forward-looking and addressing the challenges that lay ahead after being charged with juvenile delinquency.

Juvenile law Attorneys experienced in these issues will take a holistic family approach.

juvenile attorney lawyer family together

Not every Attorney is experienced in working with families and juveniles in difficult times, but I am.  This experience is invaluable in communicating with and understanding your teenager — and understanding how we can move forward protecting your child’s best interest while accomplishing your family’s goals too.  Here is the honest deal:  You can find lawyers who can represent you in juvenile court for less money than I will, perhaps much less.  But don’t compare apples-to-oranges. I have experience working with teenagers and families.  I will communicate with you, and meet with you and your child as much as needed to guide you through the process. I will invest time — not just in showing up for court hearings — but also in communicating with you and explaining this complex system of family law and courts.

Are you looking for a cheap, inexpensive lawyer?

If you want to talk with the cheapest juvenile law attorney in town, please do not call me. I will not be the least expensive juvenile law attorney, but I guarantee you’ll be happy with my representation of your child, and my availability to you and your family. The rates I charge are fair to us both, and allow me to provide you with excellent and responsive legal service. In some cases, I can offer payment plans to help you budget for dealing with this issue.  My Juvenile Law schedule fills up fast, but I am still offering free telephone consultations.  Contact me today and I’ll provide an explanation of the process you face and let you know what my charge would be to handle your issue.

 

 

 

Chesapeake Juveniles Accused of Maiming and Malicious Wounding

chesapeake-juveniles-arrestedFour teenagers were arrested after a fight at Oscar Smith Middle School last Halloween.  The young students were 13, 16, 17, and 17 years old and had been skateboarding before encountering another group of teens and starting to fight.  WAVY News Covered the event when it happened. The full list of charges were maiming by mob, malicious wounding, conspiring to commit malicious wounding, conspiracy to commit maiming, attempted malicious wounding and attempted maiming by mob. Maiming by Mob is from the Virginia Code Section 18.2-41 and if it were committed by an adult, it would be a Class 3 felony.  Malicious Wounding in violation of Virginia Code Section 18.2-51, and would also be a Class 3 felony if committed by an adult.

Here, the offenses were committed by juveniles, and if the court chooses to treat them as juveniles, they might avoid a felony record and the most severe felony punishments. There is also the possibility that some will be treated and tried as adults and would face adult penalties if convicted of those crimes. Given the news coverage, it appears that many young people were present at the scene of these fights, not just these four. Which may raise proper questions about whether the correct suspects have been identified, and about whether all the suspects have been identified.

A story like this always makes me think of the parents — both the parents of those children who may have been injured, and the parents of those children who may have instigated the fight.  Many parents suffer great distress upon realizing their child has been involved in these kinds of incidents; and feel a bit lost about what to do next.

Regardless of what happens in this particular case, a case which I have no connection to whatsoever, it is critically important that anyone — juvenile or adult — charged with serious crimes (or delinquency offenses, if juvenile) seek good legal counsel. Our legal system functions best when competent lawyers represent all parties involved.