Oklahoma City Juvenile Crimes Attorney
Individuals with criminal records can have an extremely difficult time navigating the essentials of life, including securing loans and/or obtaining a job. Because of this, it is particularly devastating for juveniles to be convicted of any criminal offense. A criminal record for juveniles could jeopardize their entire adult lives. Juveniles are not tried in standard criminal courts, but rather in juvenile courts. This does not mean criminal charges against juveniles are any less serious than criminal charges against adults. Prosecutors still pursue juvenile criminal cases aggressively, and law enforcement will not take it easy on individuals just because they are minors. Our team works hard to protect the rights of minors and achieve the best results possible.
The Oklahoma Youthful Offender Act
In the state of Oklahoma, minors can be prosecuted one of three ways: (1) as a juvenile delinquent, (2) as a youthful offender, or (3) as an adult. Depending on the crime and circumstances involved, a juvenile will not be convicted, but instead be determined a delinquent. Juvenile delinquents can spend time in a juvenile detention facility or be put on probation. For juvenile delinquents, all criminal offenses are sealed, meaning juvenile criminal records are not available to the public. This protects minors from the stigma and hardship thrust upon convicted adult criminals. However, the commission of a statutory list of crimes can place a child into the confusing maze of the Oklahoma Youthful Offender Act.
Offenders between the ages of 15 and 17 that commit more serious crimes are charged as youthful offenders. If one is convicted as a Youthful Offender, he/she will be required to complete an Office of Juvenile Affairs (OJA) rehabilitation plan. If the child successfully completes the rehabilitation plan, his or her case will be dismissed and expunged per statute. However, should the child violate the rules and conditions of the plan, the child could be subject to an adult sentence, which may include incarceration in the Oklahoma Department of Corrections. While this may appear straightforward, there are many critical procedural issues that come into play when a child is charged under the Youthful Offender Act. As such, it is important that the child and parents meet with an attorney experienced in this area of law.
Although there are general age guidelines for determining whether or not an individual will be tried as an adult, youthful offender, or juvenile delinquent, these are only a rule of thumb and not a guarantee. Serious crimes, such as first degree murder, will almost always see defendants tried as adults.
Types of Juvenile Crimes
While juveniles can commit any crime adults do, there are some crimes attorney Taylor McLawhorn sees the most. These include:
- Theft and burglary
- Assault and battery
- Drug crimes
- Sex crimes
Minors with criminal records can have their charges effectively erased via a process called expungement. An individual can petition to have their juvenile record expunged if they meet several requirements, including:
- The individual is at least 21 years old
- The individual hasn’t been arrested as an adult
- The individual hasn’t been convicted of any additional crimes
- All court costs have been paid
If an individual meets these requirements, the court will hold a hearing to determine whether or not the record will be expunged. Expunged records that remain unsealed for ten years are eligible to be destroyed, completely erasing the criminal record of successfully rehabilitated individuals.
Why Taylor McLawhorn Attorney at Law?
The juvenile crimes attorney at our firm fully recognizes the devastating impact an arrest or charge can have on your child’s life. Between the immediate effects an arrest can have, such as the loss of employment, scholarships, or enrollment in school, and the lasting effects of a conviction, your child needs someone to advocate for them. We work to gather evidence, with an eye toward a reduction of charges or a dismissal, while showing what your child can contribute to society (encouraging rehabilitation vs. punishment).
Oklahoma City Juvenile Crime Lawyer
It is natural to panic if your child is arrested, but it is important to hire an Oklahoma City juvenile criminal defense lawyer right away. Your child will have the best chance of a positive outcome for their case with experienced representation on their side. Our goal is to prove to the judge that your child will respond to rehabilitation and to avoid severe punishments. Contact Taylor McLawhorn Attorney at Law today to schedule an appointment to learn how we can help.