Generally, the purpose of our Juvenile Courts is to protect the well being of children. The overall philosophy of the juvenile court system is one of rehabilitation, more so than punishment. Sometimes, however, it doesn't seem that way. Children are often treated harshly by zero tolerance policies of their schools and then again by prosecutors and judges. It is important to remember that children have rights too.
The exclusive, original jurisdiction of Juvenile Courts extends to delinquent children under the age of 17 and deprived or unruly children under the age of 18.
If your child is accused of a crime, it is investigated by a juvenile court officer to determine if a formal petition should be filed against them. This procedure mirrors the indictment and accusation phase of felonies and misdemeanors in Superior and State Court. If a formal petition is filed, a court date will be scheduled where the judge will ask if your child admits or denies the allegations contained in the petition. If your child denies the allegations, a trial will be scheduled. If your child admits the allegations, the judge will pass sentence.
If the judge rules your child delinquent, the judge might put your child on probation, in jail for up to 90 days, or in Juvenile detention for up to 2 years.
If your child is 15 years old and charged with a delinquent act, or if your child is 13 or 14 years old and charged with an offense that if convicted he/she would suffer imprisonment or loss of life if he/she was an adult, the District Attorney might ask for a hearing to determine whether their case should be transferred to the Superior Court for trial as an adult. If that happens, your child can be punished as an adult.
It is also important to remember that children can be prosecuted in superior court. Children between 13 and 17 years old are prosecuted as an adult in Superior Court if they are charged with one of Georgia’s "seven deadly sins.” Georgia’s seven deadly sins are murder, rape, armed robbery (with a firearm), aggravated child molestation, aggravated sodomy, aggravated sexual battery and voluntary manslaughter. Although children under the age of 13 can be prosecuted as adults in Georgia, the decision to do so is determined by the juvenile court. The decision to prosecute children under the age of 13 in Georgia, is determined by the juvenile court.
At The Hirsch Firm we feel very strongly that the Courts can not be allowed to forget that children are still children, no matter what they are accused of doing. We believe that even though children can be prosecuted as adults for actions that they take, they are not making adult decisions to commit those acts. We are dedicated to helping and guiding you and your child through the criminal justice system.
We can help children charged with:
- Serious felonies
- Minors in possession of alcohol or drugs/drug
- Fake ID charges/obstruction of an officer
- Underage drinking