Dover Criminal Defense Lawyers

Juvenile Cases Can Have A Lasting Impact

When a juvenile is accused of or charged with a crime it can be an emotionally charged and difficult experience. In such a case, he or she will require the services of a juvenile defense attorney. Juvenile crimes are often less serious but the impact on the minor can be significant with lifelong implications.

Regardless of the criminal charges, the juvenile court system is a criminal court case and the child’s case will need an attorney familiar with juvenile law and juvenile court proceedings.

At Schmittinger & Rodriguez our law firm has the experienced and appropriate attorney to handle juvenile offenses. From the outset, the child’s rights must be protected by an advocate who can work to get the juvenile out of custody and work with the prosecutor to avoid a conviction and prison time.

What Types Of Cases Does A Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyer Handle?

A juvenile law attorney will handle a wide range of cases involving minors, including offenses such as:

  • Underage drinking

  • Drug possession

  • Shoplifting

  • Petty theft

  • Vandalism

  • Assault

  • Serious offenses like robbery or burglary

Our legal practice employs experienced juvenile attorneys who are experienced in representing clients in juvenile courts and in juvenile defense cases. Certain other cases may result in the juvenile being treated as an adult defendant. Our attorneys are also experienced criminal defense lawyers who can handle any case where defendants are treated as adults.

Both the juvenile and adult legal system is complex and the legal issues a client faces can have a significant impact on their life. An experienced criminal law attorney will protect the rights of both minors and adults.

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Contact Schmittinger & Rodriguez

If you or someone you love has criminal charges, contact Schmittinger & Rodriguez today for a consultation. YOUR CASE. OUR PRIORITY.

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What Our Clients Say

Sharonda goode
Great experience! Doug Catts, Ryan and Ms. Kaye are awesome to work with. Very professional, friendly & knowledgeable. They are expensive. But get the job done & in a timely manner. I use Mr. Catts for all my legal needs.
Hot Box237
I will recommend this lawyer to any one, I feel like crying. He is kind, patient and a good listener. He solved your problem and at the end advice you. Thank you very much.
Cheryl Rowe
Doug is personable…assertive and he will get the job done!
Patsy Ware
Schmittinger and Rodriquez attorney Doug Catts is the best, I highly recommend him. As an attorney he is forthright, honest, transparent and sincere. Doug Catts and his staff are amazing.
James Trower
I only have great things to say about the great folks at Schmittinger & Rodriguez. Everyone in the office had a warm personality. My Attorney, Diana Stewart, is a resilient lawyer in that she fought from beginning to the ending of my case. I am retaining this office for all my legal needs. Folks if you need a group of folks to fight for you, choose Schmittinger & Rodriguez, P.A.!
Josue Lopez
Dianna Stuart is the best lawyer in the town. awesome customer service, awesome communication and very helpful. definitely will be recommending her to everyone. thanks for everything Dianna.
Augustine Graves
Mr. Rodriguez is top-notch and Susan has kept me informed every step of the way. Great staff!
Felicia Batson
Doug Catts was great and everyone working for him down to the lady at the front desk. His paralegal kept me in the know about what was goin on with my case without me having to reach out 10/10 Highly recommend!!!

The Difference Between Juvenile and Adult Criminal Systems

Delaware’s juvenile and adult criminal justice systems are markedly different, acknowledging that minors need to be treated with special attention to account for their age, maturity, and potential for rehabilitation. Juvenile lawyers have backgrounds in both family law and criminal defense. That makes them essential advocates when a client is facing juvenile crime charges.

Here are several notable distinctions in how juveniles are handled, and what this means for the way they’re treated:

  1. Focus on Rehabilitation: The juvenile justice system places a significant emphasis on rehabilitating young offenders, with the goal of addressing underlying issues, providing guidance, and fostering positive behaviors and attitudes, rather than focusing solely on punishment.

  2. Age of Responsibility: In Delaware, a person is considered a juvenile if they are under the age of 18. This means that individuals under 18 who commit a criminal offense are generally handled within the juvenile system unless the offense is particularly serious or the juvenile has a history of repeat offenses.

  3. Confidentiality and Privacy: Juvenile offenders’ identities are usually safeguarded and kept confidential to ensure their privacy, unlike adult criminal cases which are generally public.

  4. Juvenile Detention Facilities: Rather than being housed in adult jails or prisons, juvenile offenders are typically placed in detention facilities designed to offer a more supportive and rehabilitative environment. These facilities aim to provide young offenders with resources and skills to reintegrate them into society and prevent future misconduct.

  5. Rehabilitation Programs: The juvenile system offers various rehabilitation programs aimed at addressing underlying issues, such as substance abuse, mental health challenges, or family problems. These programs focus on education, counseling, therapy, and skill-building to help juveniles reintegrate into society successfully.

  6. Juvenile Court Proceedings: Juvenile court proceedings differ from adult court proceedings in terms of their informality and focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment. Juvenile court judges have more flexibility in tailoring dispositions and sentences to meet the specific needs of each juvenile offender.

  7. Expungement Opportunities: Juveniles who have completed their sentences and have not committed subsequent offenses may have the opportunity to expunge their juvenile records. Expungement allows the removal or sealing of certain offenses from a minor’s criminal record, giving them a fresh start as they transition into adulthood.

Within the criminal justice system, treating young offenders as juveniles means prioritizing education, rehabilitation, and support to help them learn from their mistakes. Recognizing the greater capacity for change and growth among juveniles rather than adult offenders, it emphasizes the prevention of future criminal behavior through guidance and a focus on avenues for rehabilitation.

It’s important for juveniles and their families to work closely with an experienced juvenile lawyer who understands the intricacies of the juvenile court process. A juvenile law attorney can provide guidance, protect the juvenile’s rights, and advocate for the most appropriate and beneficial outcomes within the juvenile system.

Can A Juvenile Be Charged As An Adult In Delaware?

A juvenile can be charged as an adult in certain circumstances. This is known as a “juvenile waiver” or “transfer” to adult court. When a juvenile is charged as an adult, it means that they will be subject to the same legal procedures, penalties, and potential consequences as an adult offender.

The decision to charge a juvenile as an adult is based on several factors, including the seriousness of the offense and the juvenile’s age, maturity level, prior criminal history, and the likelihood of rehabilitation within the juvenile system. Delaware follows specific criteria outlined in its laws to determine when a transfer to adult court is appropriate. Some common situations that may lead to a juvenile being charged as an adult include:

  1. Serious Felonies: Juveniles accused of committing serious offenses, such as murder, rape, robbery, or other violent crimes, may face transfer to adult court due to the gravity of the charges.

  2. Repeat Offenders: If a juvenile has a history of repeated offenses or has previously been adjudicated delinquent, the court may consider transferring them to adult court as a means of addressing their ongoing criminal behavior.

  3. Age and Maturity: In some cases, the age and maturity of the juvenile may be a factor in the decision to charge them as an adult. Older juveniles who are close to the age of majority or demonstrate a high level of maturity may be more likely to be transferred to adult court.

If a juvenile is charged as an adult, they will face the adult criminal justice system. The adult system differs in its procedures, penalties, and outcomes compared to the juvenile system. Consequently, they will endure the same legal rights and responsibilities as adult offenders, which can result in harsher sentences, including being consigned to adult prisons.

It’s important to note that the decision to charge a juvenile as an adult is made by the court based on the specific circumstances of each case. It is crucial for juveniles facing potential transfer to adult court to seek immediate legal representation from an experienced juvenile criminal defense attorney. A skilled juvenile lawyer can advocate for the juvenile’s rights, explore potential alternatives, and work to achieve the best possible outcome in their case.

How Are Criminal Cases Resolved In Delaware?

Criminal cases in Delaware can be resolved through a number of methods, including plea bargains, dismissals, and trials.

Plea bargains are one of the most common ways in which criminal cases are resolved in Delaware. A plea bargain is a negotiated agreement between the prosecution and the defense in which the defendant agrees to plead guilty to a lesser charge or to accept a reduced sentence in exchange for a guilty plea. Plea bargains can be beneficial for both sides, as they can help to save time and resources and can result in a more predictable outcome for the defendant. Your criminal defense lawyers will advise you on whether the plea agreement is in your best interest.

Dismissals are another way in which criminal cases can be resolved in Delaware. A dismissal occurs when the charges against the defendant are dropped, usually because the prosecution determines that they do not have enough evidence to proceed with the case. Dismissals can occur at any stage of the criminal process, from the pre-trial stage to the trial itself. A good criminal defense attorney who is familiar with the facts and the law can argue for dismissal at any time.

Trials are the final way in which criminal cases can be resolved in Delaware. Trials involve a formal court proceeding in which the prosecution and defense present evidence and arguments to a judge or jury. The burden of proof in a criminal trial is on the prosecution, who must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime in question. If the prosecution is unable to meet this burden of proof, the defendant will be acquitted and the case will be resolved in their favor.

Whether through plea bargaining, dismissals, or trials, it is essential to have attorneys by your side to defend you against prosecutors who will be working hard against you. By understanding the various ways in which criminal cases can be resolved, criminal defense attorneys can achieve the best possible outcome for you.

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How Our Juvenile Law Attorney Can Help You

Navigating the juvenile justice system can be complex and emotionally challenging. A skilled juvenile attorney will have the knowledge and experience to guide you through every step, ensuring that your rights are protected and your best interests are served. Here’s how we can assist you:

  1. Advice and Assessment: We will evaluate your case and provide you with an honest assessment of juvenile law and how your case may proceed.

  2. Court Appearances: Our juvenile lawyers will be by your side every step of the way during the course of your case advocating on your behalf and providing the legal help and advice you require.

  3. Building a Strong Case: Our attorneys will gather evidence, interview witnesses if necessary, and develop a compelling argument to support any defense you have. We will work diligently to present a strong case on your behalf.

  4. Negotiation and Settlement: In some cases, it may be possible to work with a prosecutor to reduce or even drop charges.

  5. Emotional Support: We understand that the juvenile court process can be emotionally challenging. Our compassionate attorneys will provide you with the support you need, offering guidance and reassurance during this difficult time.

If you or a loved one are facing juvenile criminal charges in Delaware, it is crucial to seek the guidance of experienced juvenile defense attorneys who can protect your rights and help you navigate the legal complexities. Our dedicated team is here to assist you, providing personalized advice, strategic representation, and compassionate support. Contact us immediately to schedule a free consultation and learn how we can best assist you with your case.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the potential consequences for juvenile offenders in Delaware?

The consequences for juvenile offenders can vary depending on the offense and the juvenile's prior record. Possible consequences include probation, counseling or treatment programs, community service, restitution, and, in some cases, placement in a juvenile detention facility. The focus is on rehabilitation and providing the necessary support for the juvenile's positive development.

Can a juvenile record be expunged in Delaware?

In Delaware, under certain circumstances, a juvenile record can be expunged or sealed. Expungement allows the juvenile's record to be erased or sealed, which can have significant benefits for future employment and educational opportunities. Consulting with juvenile law attorneys can provide guidance on eligibility and the process of expungement.

What rights does a juvenile have during the legal process?

Juveniles have similar rights to adults, including the right to legal counsel, the right to remain silent, the right to a fair and speedy trial, and the right to confront witnesses. A juvenile defense attorney ensures that these rights are protected and helps the juvenile navigate the legal process.

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