Juvenile Offenses

New Castle County, Delaware Juvenile Defense Lawyer

Criminal offenses committed by a "child" (anyone under the age of 18) are considered juvenile acts of delinquency and are initially prosecuted in the Family Court.  In the juvenile justice system, the courts generally focus on rehabilitation programs, rather than punishment.  In more serious cases — or in cases where the child has a lengthy juvenile record — the state prosecutors may attempt to prosecute the child in the adult court system.

If a child is adjudicated delinquent, either by a guilty plea or a verdict following a trial, the court may impose a period of incarceration at a juvenile detention facility (typically suspended for first time offenders), probation, community service and restitution.  The child may also be required to participate in one or more of the following treatment programs: individual and/or family counseling, mental health and/or substance abuse treatment.

“I understand that even really good kids sometimes get involved in substantial property crimes, violent crimes, drug offenses and sex offenses. I’ll work aggressively to keep your son or daughter’s case in the Family Court juvenile justice system. I have seen first hand that children who are prosecuted in the adult system tend to remain in the system for much of their lives.

I resolve each child’s case with three primary concepts in mind: What’s the best possible resolution of this case today? What can we do to prevent your child from committing more delinquent acts in the future? And how can we limit or eliminate the negative consequences of your child’s arrest record?

I believe that children deserve the opportunity to live productive lives without being haunted by past, adolescent or childhood mistakes. It’s my ultimate goal in every case to see their criminal arrest record expunged as soon as possible.”

In most cases, juvenile offense records are sealed from the public’s view. However, job and college applications are now increasingly requiring the applicant to disclose their record of juvenile arrests and adjudications. Much to people's surprise, here in Delaware, a juvenile arrest or adjudication remains on their record for life. In order to permanently remove that publicly accessible information, the child or his parent must apply for an expungement. (The Expungement section of this site provides more details on juveniles and sex offenses.)

If your child has been arrested, call Wilmington Criminal Defense Attorney John Deckers at
302) 656-9850.  John and his staff will provide your child with the aggressive, professional legal services he or she needs.