As a child matures they inevitably begin to discover their sexuality. Many young people have a tendency to experiment during this phase of their life. For instance, minors can have their first sexual experience in high school or even younger. These types of cases can find their way into the criminal court system in a myriad of ways. For instance, a young girl (Jill) might tell her best friend she had sex with Johnny. She asked her best friend not to tell anyone, but eventually the best friend tells her parents that her friend Jill had sex with Johnny. When the best friend’s parents tell Jill’s parents Jill is facing a very upset mother or father. In an effort to appease her parent(s) she tells them that the boy molested or raped her. That scenario has played out across America millions and millions of times. Some people feel that because this type of behavior amounts to children “experimenting” it would never be prosecuted. This is a very common misconception. Yes, depending on the ages of the minors and the circumstances surrounding the sexual behavior the State Attorney’s Office may choose not to file a criminal charge but that decision only occurs after the facts have been carefully reviewed by a prosecutor specialized in these types of cases
As Time Passes So Does Your Opportunity to Convince the Prosecutor to Abandon the Case
Every allegation involving the molestation of a minor goes through the State Attorney’s Office… NO MATTER HOW FRIVOLOUS THE ALLEGATION MIGHT APPEAR TO BE. The prosecutor will make the final decision on a filing formal charge(s) after reviewing the evidence with the detective. That is why it is critical to contact our office immediately upon discovering that your minor (or young adult) may be the subject of an investigation involving any type of sexual offense. Even if your minor has been arrested it does not mean a formal charge has been filed against him or her. The police decide who gets arrested on scene but they never ultimately decide who is formally charged with a crime. By the same token you should not ignore a criminal investigation of your minor if he or she is not arrested on scene. Even when the detective decides not to make an arrest on scene he/she will ultimately bring his investigation to the state attorney who will then decide on whether a charge should be filed. It is at the initial stages of a criminal investigation (before a formal charge has been filed) that an experienced criminal defense attorney can be extremely helpful. It is at that point that we can argue to the state attorney assigned to the case the reasons why you’re minor should not be charged with any type of crime. We do more than argue the facts of the case when we approach the prosecutor assigned to your case. We get an extensive background of your child in order to put perspective on the situation. Someone’s background and character can play a role in the state attorney’s decision to prosecute or not.
Long Term Effects on a Minor
Any criminal charge can have long-lasting effects upon the person who is eventually convicted. A conviction for a sex offense creates a label that will never disappear. When a minor is charged with a sex offense the effects can be catastrophic. A conviction can cause expulsion from school or severe limitations on future academic endeavors. If the young defendant is charged in adult court the charge can carry designations i.e. sexual offender or sexual predator that make life impossible. That is why it is extremely important to contact an attorney experienced in this area of the law immediately upon discovering that a criminal investigation may be underway. Steps can be taken to prevent the formal filing of any charges even if the suspect has been arrested.
Alternative Sanction Programs for Juveniles
Typically, charges filed in juvenile court are not made public in an
effort to give the juvenile the opportunity to change his/her life and move forward. However, under certain circumstances juvenile information can become available to the public (adult charges after reaching majority). In the interest of protecting juveniles with treatable problems our system has created alternative sanction programs that can result in a dismissal of a criminal charge if the juvenile is accepted to the program and he successfully completes it. Under certain circumstances these programs can be available even to the juvenile charged with a sexual offense. The difficulty is making sure the State Attorney agrees that the defendant is appropriate for the program. Please call us immediately to discuss your child’s particular situation and whether a program would be available to him.