The Indiana Juvenile Defense Attorney You Can Trust to Fight for Your Child
When the outcome of your child’s future is in the balance because of pending criminal charges, an Indiana juvenile defense attorney should be your first call. Whether your child is guilty or innocent, they’ll need a fierce legal advocate to guide them through Indiana’s harsh juvenile justice system.
At Worthley Law, our legal team has the skill and experience to guide you and your family through this challenging time. Mark Worthley, our founder, is the driving force behind the work we do for families in the Valparaiso and La Porte communities.
With his compassion and dedication to youth, Mr. Worthley leverages his years of legal experience to guide families through Indiana’s juvenile justice system. Call Worthley Law today at (219) 575-8565 to discuss your child’s case and schedule a consultation with our legal team.
Different Types of Indiana Juvenile Offenses
In Indiana (and everywhere else), juveniles have an entirely different criminal justice system than adults. For example, adults receive a conviction on their record if the state proves they broke the law. In the juvenile system, there are no convictions. Although it’s essentially the same thing, the courts refer to the juvenile conviction process as adjudication.
Also, the police can arrest a juvenile for two different kinds of criminal offenses: delinquent and status. Delinquent charges include the following acts and anything else that would be a crime if committed by an adult:
- Driving without a license
- Assault and battery
- Dangerous possession of a handgun
- Indecent display
Juvenile status offenses include:
- Loitering in public
- Truancy/skipping school without parental permission
- Curfew violations
- Habitual disobedience
- Fireworks violations
- Leaving the house without parental permission
- Running away
- Underage drinking
Potential Sentences for Indiana Juvenile Offenders
What kind of consequences could your child face after adjudication? Their age, their criminal background, and the nature of their charges will all impact the outcome of their court case. For example, what are the exact charges? Is the state alleging your child committed a delinquent offense, a status offense, or both? Potential sentences for delinquent or criminal charges include:
- Serving time in a juvenile detention facility.
- Supervised or unsupervised probation.
- Community service.
- Court-ordered treatment for mental health.
- Court-ordered treatment for substance abuse.
- Driver’s license suspension or revocation.
Status offenses have similar consequences but don’t include the risk of serving time in a juvenile facility:
- Supervised or unsupervised probation
- Placement in foster care
- Court-ordered treatment for mental health
- Court-ordered treatment for substance abuse
- Driver’s license suspension or revocation
The Police Just Arrested Your Child: What Should You Do?
No matter what alleged crime the police have charged your minor child with, the moment you realize they’re going into custody is overwhelming. You feel anxious, upset, and maybe even guilty. However, it’s critical for you to put your emotions aside, stand tall, and consider what’s best for your child’s future.
Call an Experienced Juvenile Defense Lawyer in Indiana
The first step you should take after the police arrest your child is searching for a highly experienced Indiana juvenile defense attorney. Read through reviews, compare top-rated attorneys, and don’t be afraid to call the potential firms on your list and ask questions.
In fact, it’s imperative to hire an Indiana juvenile defense attorney with experience and knowledge of the criminal justice system for minors. It’s much different from the adult system and requires a unique set of legal skills.
At Worthley Law, we have helped hundreds of families navigate the murky waters of Indiana’s juvenile justice system. Don’t wait any longer to schedule a consultation with our legal team and discuss your child’s juvenile case. Once you retain us, we’ll start planning a defense strategy and do everything in our power to help bring your child home.
As a parent or guardian, you’ll need to make the tough decision to leave your child in custody or pay their bail. Bail for a minor comes in two forms: surety bonds and cash bonds.
Surety Bonds: If your child has a surety bond, you’ll pay 10% of the total amount to a bail bond agent. After you pay, if your child runs away or fails to show up for their court date, the bail bonds company will have to pay the court the total remaining amount of the bail. After that, you’ll have to reimburse the bail bonds agency in full. In fact, some bail bonds companies may not work with you unless you have enough collateral to cover the entire bail amount, such as your house or jewelry.
Cash Bonds: With cash bonds, instead of paying 10%, you’ll pay the county clerk the full fee. Upon doing so, your child will be able to come home with you.
What Happens After You Pay Your Child’s Bond?
Once you pay for your child’s bond, you’ll need to have some patience. It may take up to 12 hours for their release, but it depends on the detention facility’s size and location.
If your child has to remain in custody, the lawyer you choose will serve as the primary liaison between your child and the juvenile justice system. It’s yet another reason why it’s vital for you to select a qualified attorney you can trust to handle their case.
What Is the Court Process Like for Juvenile Offenders in Indiana?
Before we get into the general process for minor offenders in Indiana, remember that every case is different. Your child’s route through the system may not be the same as another child’s, even if they have similar charges. However, there is a general process you can expect a juvenile case to follow:
The First Step: Detention Hearing
According to the law in Indiana, the courts must hold a detention hearing within 48 hours of your child’s arrest. By the end of this hearing, you’ll know whether your child will remain in custody or if they can come home with you. Before the hearing, you should hire an Indiana juvenile defense attorney to act as your child’s legal representation and advocate on their behalf to the judge.
The Second Step: Initial Hearing
The initial hearing is for legally notifying minors of the criminal charges the state is bringing against them. Again, the lawyer you choose will be there with your child during this hearing, speaking with the judge and representing their best interest.
The Third Step: Fact-Finding Hearing
During the fact-finding hearing, the judge will evaluate every piece of evidence. After hearing arguments from both the prosecution and defense, the judge will decide if your child has broken the law. If the judge rules your child hasn’t broken the law, they’ll be able to return home with no adjudication on their record.
The Fourth Step: Post-Adjudication Dispositional Hearing
If a minor isn’t eligible for a case dismissal, the judge will label them as an adjudicated delinquent. Post-adjudication, juveniles must attend what’s called a dispositional hearing. During this hearing, the judge will decide on an appropriate sentence. However, your child’s sentence will depend significantly on the case circumstances and the competency of the lawyer you hired.
Can Indiana Courts Try Minors as Adults?
For certain cases, the Indiana courts hold a waiver hearing to determine whether they can legally try a minor as an adult. If this happens, the potential consequences your child could face increase significantly. Here are the circumstances under which the Indiana courts can try a minor as an adult:
- Juveniles older than 16 who commit felony crimes, even if they’re not part of a habitual behavior pattern
- Juveniles over the age of 10 who commit rape or murder
- Juveniles over 14 who are habitual offenders with multiple prior felonies and who the state must also prove are unsuitable for rehabilitation
- Juveniles with previous non-traffic-related misdemeanors or adult felony adjudications
Don’t Gamble With Your Child’s Future: Call Worthley Law Today
At Worthley Law, we know how important it is for parents to secure their children a bright future. If your child is facing criminal charges, don’t hesitate. Hire an experienced Indiana juvenile defense attorney to fight on their behalf in the court system.
Between the sentencing ambiguity of the Indiana juvenile courts and the long-term repercussions an adjudication can have on your child’s future, you’re undoubtedly feeling anxious and overwhelmed. First, take a deep breath. Next, consider how you can support your son or daughter and ensure they receive legal representation from an attorney with years of experience in the juvenile justice system. Call Worthley Law now at (219) 575-8565 to schedule your consultation and discuss their case.