The Legal System can vary from state to state regarding teens. If your teen becomes involved with legal issues, the first thing you need to do is school yourself in your state and your county's protocol for teenage law. Doing this will help you become an advocate for your teen in helping with appropriate outcomes for your child. It is important for you to know that some states consider teens as adults before they reach the age of 18 and based on the degree of their charges.
Decide whether or not you want to hire an attorney to represent your teen in legal matters. If you want an attorney, but do not want to pay the high costs of hiring a lawyer, you may opt for a public defender. Public defenders may still charge a fee and there will likely still be court costs involved with any legal issues your teen may have.
If your child is on juvenile probation, but your state laws give you little authority in the decision making process due to your child's age, do NOT hesitate to send the probation officer (PO) a letter explicitly detailing your teens behaviors. Try to keep your personal opinions out of it, but do give lots of examples of your child's behaviors. If your child has a good PO, he/she will be paying attention to what you have to say, even if they do not get back in touch with you.
"Juvenile court judges have always had authority to “waive jurisdiction” over serious juvenile offenders. If a juvenile judge waives jurisdiction, the juvenile offender is transferred to criminal court to be tried as an adult. In the 1970s, many states made it easier and, in some cases, mandatory for juvenile court judges to transfer juvenile offenders to criminal court. The 2006 National report on Juvenile Offenders and Victims, published by the U.S. Department of Justice, provides these statistics: Since 1992, all states (with the exception of Nebraska) have made it easier to transfer juveniles to criminal courts. Thirteen states have set the upper age limit of juvenile court jurisdiction at age 15 or 16. Youth older than this who are accused of crimes are tried as adults in these states. A majority of states have established a minimum age below which a child cannot be transferred to a criminal court for trial as an adult. This minimum age ranges from as young as 10 in Kansas and Vermont to as old as 15 in New Mexico. But in 22 states and the District of Columbia, no minimum age is defined, or the minimum age does not apply if a serious crime such as murder is at issue. As of 2004, 15 states had “concurrent jurisdiction” provisions. This means that both the juvenile court and the criminal court have original jurisdiction over certain categories of offenses (common examples are murder and other serious offenses against persons, drug offenses, and serious offenses against property such as arson). In states with concurrent jurisdiction laws, the prosecutor decides whether to bring charges in juvenile court or criminal court. As of 2004, 29 states had “statutory exclusion” provisions. This means that certain types of offenses—again, serious offenses such as murder are common—are excluded by law from juvenile court jurisdiction. Changes in state law have made it easier in virtually all jurisdictions to try juveniles as adults when serious offenses are at issue. Criminal justice is much more focused on retribution and punishment for an offense than on rehabilitation of an offender to keep him or her away from a life of future crime."
~ For full text please see: DYJpart2.authcheckdam.pdf