A delinquent youth has some choices when it comes to proffering a juvenile court plea. They do not have as many choices as adults do in district court, so it is extremely worthwhile to obtain the advice of a Utah juvenile defense attorney before allowing your child to give any plea in juvenile court.
Denial of Guilt
One juvenile court plea is a denial of any charges. If your child denies the charges against him, the court will set either a trial hearing or a pre-trial conference.
Admission of Guilt or No-Contest
Another juvenile court plea is to admit one’s guilt or plead no-contest. The court may refuse to accept a guilty or no-contest plea and may not accept such a plea until the court finds the following:
• That a minor who is not represented by an attorney has waived the right to an attorney
• That the guilty plea is voluntarily made (not coerced by another individual)
• The minor (and if in court, the minor’s parent or guardian) has been told about, understands and voluntarily waived the right to: self-incrimination, presumed innocence, a speedy trial, confront and cross-examine opposing witnesses, testify and request witnesses on his behalf.
• The consequences of the child’s juvenile court plea have been explained to the child
• The youth understands what he is pleading to and that if a trial were to be held, the prosecution would have the burden of proving his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt
• The facts support the child’s juvenile court plea
A youth may enter a plea to a lesser charge if the original petition is amended. The prosecuting attorney may decide to have plea negotiations with the child if he is represented by a Utah juvenile defense attorney or as long as his parents have been told about the discussions and are given the opportunity to be in attendance.
A child may enter a juvenile court plea that isn’t immediately entered into the record if certain conditions are imposed upon the child. If the youth fulfills the conditions, the case can be dismissed. However, not meeting the requirements would cause the plea to be entered and court-imposed consequences to follow. In district court this type of situation is called a plea-in-abeyance.
Hiring a Utah Juvenile Defense Attorney
If your child gets into legal trouble, do him and yourself a favor and contact a Utah juvenile defense attorney right away. Don’t allow your son or daughter to enter a plea without a lawyer’s advice. This is the time that you need the expertise of an experienced attorney who will help you and your child understand the juvenile court process, your parental rights and responsibilities and your child’s rights and responsibilities. Make that important phone call today.