Monday, March 5, 2012

Should My Child Plead Guilty?

THINK ABOUT THIS BEFORE YOUR CHILD PLEADS GUILTY

It’s a good idea to know what the ‘collateral’ consequences are going to be prior to your child pleading guilty to a delinquency petition.  Collateral consequences are the sometimes unforeseen consequences of pleading guilty. For instance, you may fully understand that your child is being ordered to complete community service as a sentence.  However, you may be very surprised several weeks later when you receive notice that you no longer qualify for public housing.

WHO CAN SEE MY CHILD’S FILE ?

By statute, juvenile files are not open to the general public for inspection.  Your child’s file is confidential and kept separate from all the other court files. When your child reaches 21 all records are placed into an ‘inactive’ file.  Some people may gain access to your child’s file.  These people include your child’s lawyer, parents, guardians, or anyone else upon the written permission of the child or by court order.  In certain cases police and prosecutors will be able to access the file and a court may consider an a juvenile record when crafting an adult sentence.

WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO MY DRIVER’S LICENSE ?

A conviction in juvenile court can negatively impact your child’s license.  Per statute, any person under 21 found delinquent for an offense involving the sale, possession or abuse of alcohol or controlled drugs may have his/her license revoked or denied at the discretion of the court for 90 days but not more than 1 year for a first offense and not less than 6 months but not more than 2 years for a subsequent offense.

Collateral consequences don’t end with the suspension of motor vehicle licenses.  That’s why it’s always a good idea to consult with an experienced lawyer prior to going to court.  Pleading guilty in juvenile court can affect eligibility for public housing or possible eviction, result in suspension from school and result in immigration consequences.

Give us a call if your child is facing juvenile case.  It will cost you absolutely nothing to speak with us.