Las Vegas Defense Attorney for Juvenile Charges
Experienced Criminal Defense Law Firm in Clark County, Nevada
In Nevada, the juvenile justice system is separate from the criminal justice system, but juvenile charges are still a very serious matter. In some cases, a child under age eighteen (18) can be charged as an adult in district court instead of juvenile court. If your child is facing any charge in juvenile or district court, The Gersten Law Firm is here to help you and your child.
Attorney Joseph Gersten will call on his extensive criminal defense and trial experience, as well as his knowledge of local courts and processes, to aggressively represent your child, whether the case is in juvenile court or district court. In some juvenile cases, you as the parent or guardian may also wish to have an attorney. Depending on the situation, you and your child may need to be represented by different lawyers.
Las Vegas criminal justice attorney Joseph Gersten is not just any criminal defense lawyer. He holds a Master of Forensic Sciences degree, and his background includes working with the U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations. His analytical approach to investigations is part of the tough strategy that he uses in defending youth offenders against charges in juvenile court or district court. Your initial consultation and case evaluation are free-of-charge — just contact us to schedule an appointment.
Nevada Juvenile Courts
The Nevada juvenile justice system generally applies to individuals under the age of eighteen (18) years, with some qualifications and exceptions. When district courts in the state are exercising jurisdiction over juvenile justice matters, they are referred to as juvenile courts.
A child for Nevada juvenile justice purposes is one who is:
- Between ten (10) and eighteen (18) years of age;
- Less than twenty-one (21) years of age and subject to court jurisdiction for an unlawful act committed before the age of eighteen (18); or
- Subject to court jurisdiction as a juvenile sex offender.
The juvenile courts have jurisdiction over a child who is alleged or adjudicated as:
- Needing supervision;
- Committing a delinquent act; or
- Needing to be committed to an institution for intellectually disabled persons.
A child in need of supervision is one who habitually misses school, disobeys reasonable demands of a parent or guardian, runs away from home, needs care or rehabilitation, or violates a county or municipal ordinance related to curfews, loitering, or tobacco products.
A delinquent child is one who has been adjudicated by the court as:
- Violating a county or municipal ordinance other than those relating to curfews, loitering, or tobacco products;
- Violating a regulation or rule having the force of law;
- Committing a criminal offense under state law.
A child alleged to be in need of supervision or delinquent is entitled to be represented by an attorney in all phases of juvenile court proceedings. A parent or guardian of the child may also be represented by an attorney during the proceedings.
If the child denies the allegations, the court must conduct a hearing to determine the truth of the allegations. Jury trials are not required in juvenile court. Under a Nevada Supreme Court ruling, constitutional and statutory provisions relating to criminal procedure do not apply in juvenile court, since the proceedings are not criminal in nature.
Generally, juvenile courts are concerned more with rehabilitation than punishment. Penalties are less severe than in criminal court. However, juvenile court judges do impose harsher penalties for more serious offenses and for repeating delinquents.
Unlike criminal convictions, most juvenile court records are automatically sealed when the child turns twenty-one (21).
Disposition of Juvenile Court Cases
When a child is adjudicated by the juvenile court, the court has wide discretion in determining disposition of the case. The court may:
- Place the child in custody of a suitable person, either in the child’s home or another home;
- Commit the child to the custody of a licensed public or private institution or agency authorized to care for children;
- Order the child, the child’s parent or guardian, or both, to perform community service;
- Order the child’s driver’s license to be suspended and/or a fine to be imposed;
- Order appropriate medical, psychiatric, psychological, or other appropriate examination or treatment;
- Order the parent or guardian to refrain from specific conduct.
In a case involving a child in need of supervision, the court must refer the child to counseling if it is the child’s first time in juvenile court. The court also must impose a fine or order of community service and suspend the child’s driver’s license if the child is found to be a habitual truant.
In case of a child adjudicated delinquent, the court may:
- Commit the child to a detention facility, if the child is at least twelve (12) years old;
- Commit the child to social services for placement;
- Order restitution to the victim; and
- Order the child to undergo drug or alcohol abuse evaluation, in some circumstances.
State law also provides other actions that the juvenile court may take.
Juvenile Offenders Charged as Adults
There are circumstances when a child under age eighteen (18) may or must be tried as an adult in district court, rather than in juvenile court. In some cases involving serious crimes, Nevada law requires a juvenile offender to be tried as an adult in district court. In others, the juvenile court must hold an investigation and hearing after motion of the district attorney before certifying the person to be tried as an adult.
Situations where a child may be tried as an adult include:
- A child aged sixteen (16) years or older who commits a serious crime, including murder or attempted murder, sexual assault involving force or threat of force, category A and B felonies, and firearms offenses;
- A child aged thirteen (13) years or older who is accused of murder or attempted murder;
- Any child of any age charged with a felony resulting in death or substantial bodily harm committed on school property, during a school activity, or on a school bus;
- A child aged fourteen (14) or older charged with a crime that would constitute a felony;
- A child aged fourteen (14) or older charged with escape or attempted escape from custody.
Even for lesser crimes, the district attorney can ask the juvenile court to transfer a case to district court and certify the person to be tried as an adult. In those cases, the juvenile court will make an investigation and hold a hearing before ruling on the motion.
If a juvenile is charged with a criminal offense in district court, or certified by the juvenile court to be tried in district court, he or she is tried as an adult. If an adult is convicted of an offense committed when the defendant was under age eighteen (18), the court can reduce the mandatory minimum prison time by up to thirty-five (35) percent, if the court finds that the person’s age and prospects for rehabilitation warrant the reduction. Otherwise, the court may assess penalties under state law applicable to adults.
Schedule a Free Consultation With an Experienced Las Vegas Juvenile Offense Attorney
There are many considerations and various strategies to take into account in defending against a juvenile charge in Nevada. Asserting a vigorous, thorough defense can demonstrate that the evidence is insufficient to support a delinquency finding, which may lead the juvenile court to dismiss the case. Attorney Joseph Gersten will apply all his investigative, trial, and criminal defense experience in representing your child. Your initial consultation is free-of-charge. Call 702.857.8777 or complete our online form to schedule an appointment.