The common sense answer to that question is obvious: of course they can. But, as in many legal matters, the technical answer is more complicated.
Utah Juveniles are Adjudicated
When Utah juveniles are charged with a crime, the law doesn’t call it a crime. Instead of being “convicted” of a crime, juveniles are “adjudicated” as delinquent.
The language of the law goes out of its way to say that juveniles are charged with committing “an act which if committed by an adult would be a criminal offense.” In fact, Utah law says that instead of being called a criminal case, a juvenile case “shall be regarded as a civil proceeding.”
But, just because juveniles are not technically charged with “crimes” doesn’t mean that they are free from consequences of committing illegal acts.
Utah Juveniles Still Face Consequences
Utah juveniles who violate the law can be placed in detention, can have a criminal record that follows them into adulthood and can be required to register as sex offenders. They can be ordered to pay fines or restitution.
Generally, the goal of a juvenile court proceeding is to help the juvenile become a productive and law abiding citizen. Unlike adult courts which may focus on punishment and deterrence, the juvenile courts try to balance accountability with an effort to help a young person get on the right track.
For that reason, a juvenile may be ordered to attend classes, complete an education, get therapy or counseling or perform community service. Under some circumstances, some juveniles might be diverted out of the juvenile court altogether and have their cases dismissed.
On the other hand, for particularly serious offenses, a juvenile may be ordered to stand trial in adult court. In those cases, the juvenile could be subject to all of the harsh penalties facing any adult criminal defendant.
Getting the Right Legal Advice
Even under less serious situations, the consequences of a juvenile court record do not necessarily disappear at age 18. If a youngster in your life is in trouble with the juvenile court, the best thing to do may be to get competent legal advice regarding your options.
There are many ways the juvenile court can help a troubled youth. The best way to make sure the
system works the right way is to get an experienced Utah juvenile defense lawyer who can help you and your child make the best choices while navigating the juvenile court process.
A good juvenile defense attorney can answer all your questions and make a huge positive difference for a young person who needs help.
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