In Mississippi, crimes committed by minors are traditionally handled differently than crimes committed by adults. Rather than focusing on punishment, Mississippi law favors rehabilitative measures for juvenile offenders. However, juvenile crimes are still very serious legal matters. If your child has been arrested for a juvenile offense it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. Call Tupelo criminal defense attorney William Wayne Housley today to learn more.
What is a Juvenile Crime?
When a person under the age of 18 commits a crime in Mississippi, they can face criminal charges as an adult or a juvenile. Unless the crime is particularly violent or serious (e.g., murder, armed robbery, sexual assault), the offense will likely be referred to a Mississippi State Youth Court. A hearing will be held to determine (a) the juvenile's guilt or innocence and (b) appropriate penalties for the crime.
Juveniles may also end up in front of a Youth Court judge if they are charged with certain Child in Need of Supervision (CHINS) offenses. CHINS offenses typically involve behavior that demonstrates a need for supervision and structure. Examples of CHINS offenses that may land a juvenile in court include:
- Habitually missing school
- Habitually disobeying a juvenile's parents
- Engaging in activity that, while not technically illegal, flirts with the line of right and wrong.
In most cases, juveniles charged with CHINS offenses are subject to probation and required to participate in mandatory counseling sessions. If drugs and alcohol seem to be a factor, a Youth Court judge may require abstinence or order the completion of a drug treatment programs.
Penalties for Juvenile Crimes in Mississippi
Mississippi favors penalties that focus on rehabilitation, rather than those that aim to punish a juvenile for his or her mistakes. Rather than being “convicted” of a crime, juveniles are deemed to be “delinquent.” These delinquencies will not show up on the child's criminal record when they become an adult. Rather, childhood indiscretions remain a thing of the past and do not threaten the child's future.
However, it is important to understand that criminal penalties are never off the table. If a juvenile commits a particularly serious crime and/or fails to demonstrate a willingness to abide by the law, a Youth Court judge has the authority to impose some pretty harsh consequences.
Penalties for committing a crime as a juvenile in Mississippi can include:
- Community service
- Suspension of the juvenile's driver's license
- Drug abuse treatment, or
- Juvenile Detention.
Remember, judges often have the discretion to decide whether a minor is charged as a juvenile or an adult. Juveniles facing criminal adult charges will not reap the benefits of the juvenile system and may face significant time in prison.
Tupelo Juvenile Crimes Attorney
Has your child been arrested for a crime in Mississippi? Contact Tupelo criminal defense attorney William Wayne Housley for help protecting their future. Even though Mississippi law favors rehabilitation for juvenile offenders, judges still have the ability to charge minors as adults. Hiring an attorney as soon as possible will help to minimize the negative consequences of your child's arrest. Contact Housley Law today to schedule a free consultation.