Columbus Juvenile Crimes Attorney

Columbus Juvenile Crimes Lawyer

Is your child facing criminal charges in Columbus, OH? Juvenile crimes can have some serious consequences. It’s important to make sure that you hire a criminal defense attorney who has experience with these delicate and important matters. That’s why the Law office of James D. Owen, LLC should be your first call. 

Our attorney has more than 30 years of experience handling juvenile criminal matters in Columbus. When you call us for help, we’ll do everything we can to protect your child’s future. We offer a free consultation, so contact our law firm to schedule a time to speak today.

How Will a Criminal Defense Lawyer Help Me If I’m Facing Juvenile Charges in Columbus?

Being charged with any crime is a serious matter. If you or your child is facing juvenile charges, this should not be taken lightly. It is important to have a Columbus criminal defense attorney involved who understands the law and the specific process that applies to minors.

Keeping the case from being transferred to the adult court is critical. This is because the potential penalties are more severe and include the possibility of prison time. Further, having a criminal conviction on your record at such a young age can have dire consequences. It will likely affect educational and employment opportunities for many years to come.

That said, the expungement of these records may be possible in certain cases. However, this can be a lengthy and complex process. For that reason, we will fight to keep these offenses off of your record in the first place.  

The experienced attorney at the Law Office of James D. Owen, LLC are here to help in any way that we can. Give our Columbus law firm a call today to get started on your child’s defense.

Overview of Juvenile Crimes in Columbus, OH 

Now, under Ohio law, a juvenile is defined as anyone under 18 years of age. Note that minors can be charged with a variety of offenses in Columbus. This includes anything that an adult may be charged with, plus additional violations that only apply to young people. Examples are skipping school (truancy) and underage alcohol possession.

That said, the most common juvenile crimes we see are the following:

Keep in mind that the law differentiates between what is known as a juvenile delinquent and an “unruly child.” Delinquent children are those that violate a law that would be considered criminal if the child were an adult. By contrast, an unruly child is a minor that habitually misses school and doesn’t submit to the control of parents and teachers. 

Transfers to Adult Court in Franklin County

As mentioned, there are situations in which a juvenile criminal case may be transferred to adult court. This can be either mandatory or discretionary.

Mandatory Transfers

Mandatory grounds for transfer include: 

  • The child is 16 or 17 and committed a category 1 serious offense, such as murder, aggravated murder, or attempted murder.
  • The child is 14 or 15 and committed a category 1 serious offense and had a prior charge involving a serious offense. 

Keep in mind that a transfer is also mandatory if the child is 16 or 17 and committed a category 2 offense. These offenses include manslaughter, aggravated arson, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, rape, and some cases of kidnapping.

However, to apply, the child must have either a prior charge of a category 1 or 2 offense, or had a firearm under his control during the commission of the crime.

Discretionary Transfers

Now, a case can also be transferred to adult court based on the discretion of the judge. But, to apply the child must be at least 14 and charged with a felony. This classification includes crimes like murder, drug offenses, sexual offenses, and breaking and entering

In discretionary cases, the court will look to a number of factors in making its decision, such as whether:

  • The victim suffered physical or psychological harm
  • There was serious economic harm
  • The victim was especially vulnerable due to age or mental state 
  • The juvenile was part of a gang
  • A firearm was used
  • There was prejudicial motivation – such as a crime based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion
  • The juvenile is emotionally, physically, or psychologically mature enough for transfer, or
  • The juvenile had prior offenses.

It’s important to note that if a case is transferred it proceeds in the same manner as any adult criminal trial. In addition, the penalties are the same as for adults, which may include incarceration and fines.

Teen Court Program

With that in mind, there are alternatives to the juvenile court system that may be available to certain youth offenders. Known as Teen Court, these are community-based and run by teens who serve as jurors, attorneys, and/or bailiffs. A major benefit to this program is that it can result in the child having no criminal record.

However, to be considered eligible for the Franklin county teen court, the following conditions apply:

  • The transfer must be approved by the court
  • The juvenile must be a first-time offender
  • The offense must be a misdemeanor charge
  • The child must be between 11 and 17 
  • The child must admit and acknowledge the offense
  • The child must commit to a 5-week program, and 
  • A parent or guardian must consent to the program.

As part of the program, the child may be required to do any of the following as part of sentencing:

  • Apologize to the victim
  • Perform community service
  • Write an essay or research paper
  • Attend drug and alcohol counseling
  • Participate in online programming – like ones on shoplifting, alcohol, and marijuana, or
  • Serve on Teen Court for other cases.

As you can see, these can be more constructive and educational in nature in comparison to the more standard forms of criminal punishment, such as jail time, probation, and fines. 

What Are the Penalties for Juvenile Crimes in Columbus, Ohio?

When it comes to juvenile court penalties, the severity of the punishment depends largely on the underlying charge. However, generally speaking, this court is more focused on rehabilitation than punishing the youth offender.

With that in mind, sentencing may include:

  • Fines – ranging from $50 to $1,800 
  • Paying restitution to the victim
  • House arrest with electronic monitoring – the offender would only be permitted to leave home to go to school, work, or to receive counseling
  • Confinement to a juvenile detention center while the case is pending (cannot exceed 90 days) 
  • Mandatory counseling 
  • Suspension of driver’s license 
  • Mandatory school attendance – means the child can’t be absent without a legitimate excuse, and no more than 72 hours can be missed per year

Further, the child may be required to register as a sex offender if the crime involved a sexual offense. In addition, if the offense was truancy, the child could be required to participate in a truancy prevention mediation program. The parent may have to attend the program as well. 

The court can also impose what are known as “community control sanctions.” These require that the youth report to a probation officer, submit to random drug and alcohol testing, and perform up to 500 hours of community service. The sanctions may also order the offender to work towards finishing high school, obtaining a vocational degree, or securing employment.   

In addition, in cases where the minor’s current household is deemed insufficient or unsafe, the court may order the child to live with a relative, foster family, or facility operated by child welfare agency (like a group home). 

Defending Against Juvenile Charges in Columbus

When it comes to juvenile crimes, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to defending against these charges. The defense strategy depends largely on the underlying crime and the specific circumstances of each case. But, keep in mind that juveniles have the same rights as adults, including constitutional rights. 

This means that the police generally must have either a warrant or probable cause to conduct searches of people and property. Police are also required to read you the Miranda warning before any confession is obtained. If law enforcement failed to follow any of these steps in your case, all evidence they collected through these means cannot be used against you in court. 

In addition, those being charged with criminal offenses also have the right to have an attorney represent them in all legal proceedings. While this right does not necessarily apply if you are only being investigated, there is good reason to reach out to a criminal defense attorney early on in the process to make sure your rights are protected. 

Further, you are considered innocent until proven guilty. To convict you, the prosecution must establish your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In other words, there can be no other logical explanation from the facts presented other than you committed the crime. This is a high standard and requires significant evidence of wrongdoing.

Contact Our Columbus Juvenile Crimes Lawyer Today

At the Law Office of James D. Owen, LLC, we have over 25 years of experience handling cases involving serious criminal charges, including juvenile offenses. We understand the stress that these matters put on any family and we will fight hard to make sure that your rights are protected. Call us today to schedule a free consultation. Our team would be happy to review your case and offer some preliminary legal advice as you decide the next steps.