Juvenile justice system in Georgia
differs from Georgia’s adult criminal justice system. The differences between the two include privacy of records, sentencing options, and styles of incarceration. In Georgia, any person under the age of 17 who is charged with a crime is usually processed in the juvelile justice system. Only juveniles who have are charged with especially heinous crimes would be considered for prosecution and sentencing as an adult offender. The juvenile justice system in Georgia is generally similar to the juvenile justice system in other states however it does have some unique characteristics.
Juvenile courts are conducted in a manner that affords privacy protection for the accused juvenile. The accused, their immediate family and attorney meet with the prosecutor, judge and sometimes social workers to discuss the matter and decide what should be done. Juvenile criminal defense is a specialty that is not offered by all criminal defense attorneys. A Georgia juvenile crimes attorney has special knowledge of the juvenile justice system, sentencing options in Georgia, and has important professional relationships with people throughout the juvenile court system.
In Georgia, a juvenile crimes case begins after an arrest, or the issuance of a citation, for a criminal act. A juvenile crimes prosecutor will prepare and file a civil petition which formally charges the accused juvenile of violating a particular Georgia criminal statute. The petition will request that the juvenile court find the juvenile to be delinquent. If the juvenile is determined to be “guilty”, meaning a determination of delinquency is made, the juvenile court will then move forward to implement what it believes to be an appropriate sentencing. In Georgia, this could range from supervised probation and community service, to incareceration in a juvenile facility (“juvy”), or some first time offenders of serious offenses may qualify for alternative sentencing in Georgia.
The juvenile system in Georgia does take a different view of delinquent minors under 7 years of age. Very young children who commit criminal acts are typically reprimanded to parental control, with the bulk of the sentencing burden being placed upon the parents. Examples of the sentencing placed on parents or guardians, includes a requirement to pay restitution to victims. In extreme juvenile crimes cases the parents may be determned to be unfit parents, and the delinquent juvenile may be taken into State custody, or placed under the guardianship of relatives with limited contact by the parents.
Juvenile crimes cases can include matters that would normally be a misdemenaor or felony crime in the adult criminal justice system. Other matters are unique to the juvenile justice system. The manner in which these matters are classified varies, as does the associated penalties or forms of resolution.
A status offense is unique to the juvenile justice system and includes underage crimes (drinking, alcohol possession, tobacco possession, etc.) and “victimless crimes” such as runaways, or truancy.
A delinquency case concerns matters committed by a juvenile which would otherwise be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or felony within the adult justice system. Unless the State of Georgia decides to prosecute the minor as an adult, the juvenile justice system will resolve the case in a manner that provides reasonable privacy for the minor and their family. These cases almost certainly will require incarceration in a Georgia juvenile corrections facility. If the state of Georgia decides to prosecute the juvenile as an adult, the accused will need the services of an Atlanta criminal defense attorney.
To better understand what to expect from any particular situation handled by the juvenile justice system in Georgia, a person should contact an experienced juvenile crimes defense attorney. Hiring a juvenile crimes defense attorney soon after an arrest or citation can greatly improve the odds of a more positive outcome. Quicly hiring an attorney provides the juvenile crimes defense attorney with the ability to intercede early on in the prosecutions discussions.