Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyers, Norfolk VA
Our Virginia law firm handles underage criminal cases
Have you been charged with a juvenile crime in Virginia Beach? Or perhaps you’re under 18 years old and are dealing with a criminal charge in Norfolk, Newport News, or another city in Hampton Roads? Knowing what to do next can be confusing. Even knowing what your rights are might not be clear.
That’s why it’s critical that you talk to a Virginia criminal defense attorney who is familiar with juvenile criminal charges and understands Virginia’s juvenile justice system. That’s why you need Welch & Wright, PLLC in your corner, fighting for your rights.
Our Norfolk, Virginia criminal defense lawyers regularly represent teenagers and college students in Virginia charged with minor and serious crimes. In case after case, we consistently produce positive results for challenging legal cases.
Sometimes, our legal team negotiates a plea deal. Other times, our trial lawyers fight for clients’ rights in a Juvenile District Court. And if possible, we do everything we can to have your charges dismissed altogether. We leave no stone unturned in pursuit of justice.
How are underage juvenile criminal cases different?
The Virginia Juvenile Justice System specifically handles legal cases involving people under 18 years old. The Commonwealth of Virginia’s rules and regulations governing juvenile criminal cases can be found in Virginia Code 16.1-228.
The terminology for juvenile criminal cases and ones involving adults is very different. Examples include “offense” instead of “crime” or “take into custody” instead of “arrest.” And if a juvenile is found guilty of an offense, the juvenile justice system refers to that guilty verdict as the defendant being “found delinquent.”
Why do such differences exist? Because Virginia places a “greater emphasis on rehabilitation than on punishment” when it comes to juveniles charged with the crime, according to the Office of the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
“There is a juvenile justice system that treats juveniles differently than adults because our society believes juveniles are different from adults, both in terms of level of responsibility and potential for rehabilitation,” Virginia’s Attorney General’s office adds.
Which courts handle juvenile criminal cases in Virginia?
The biggest difference with criminal cases involving people under 18 years old in Virginia is an entirely separate court system handles most criminal charges filed against juveniles. Note that some felony criminal charges filed against juveniles are handled in regular, adult courts or general district courts.
Virginia’s juvenile courts work with the Virginia Department of Juvenile Justice which supervises the juvenile detention facilities across Virginia and provides many court-related services to juveniles. Within this system, there are many juvenile courts throughout Virginia. For example, if you were charged with a crime in Norfolk, your juvenile criminal case will be handled by the Norfolk Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, which is part of the 4th Judicial District of Virginia.
What are common juvenile criminal cases?
Juvenile criminal charges can cover a wide range in Virginia. Some of the most common criminal cases involving people under 18 years old include:
- Underage DUI
- Marijuana possession
- Criminal traffic violations
- Theft and grand larceny
- Assault and battery
- Vandalism and destruction of property
Common penalties for juvenile criminal offenses
Because Virginia treats juveniles differently than adults and focuses on rehabilitation instead of punishment, many juveniles found delinquent of an offense at a Delinquency Adjudication Hearing (Trial) receive one of the following dispositions, Virginia’s legal term for sentencing for a crime for juveniles. Common juvenile dispositions include:
- Community service
- Paying financial restitution to someone
- Suspending driver’s license
- Being sentenced to time in a juvenile detention facility
Will I serve time in a juvenile detention facility?
A juvenile detention facility or center is a secure facility where juveniles can be held when they are found delinquent of a criminal offense. Therefore, juvenile detention centers are essentially jails for juveniles.
Depending on the circumstances of your criminal case, a Virginia Juvenile District Court judge might decide it is in you or your child’s best interest to spend several weeks or months in a juvenile detention facility. However, as with adult jail and prison, the right criminal defense attorney can help you avoid being sent to a juvenile detention facility, depending on the circumstances.
Will I be expelled from college or school for a juvenile criminal conviction?
Every college, university or school in Virginia has its own rules and policies in regard to student conduct on and off of campus. Depending on what criminal charges you have been found delinquent (guilty) of in Virginia, some educational institutions may decide to suspend or expel you.
In particular, if you are enrolled as a student in a public school, college or university in Virginia, you might be expelled from school for committing certain drug crimes, according to Virginia Code 22.1-277.08. This is especially true if you were arrested for a drug charge that took place at a school or university.
In addition, some criminal convictions may prevent you from being able to receive certain scholarships and financial aid in the future. This is why it’s critical that you talk to a lawyer right away if you have been charged with a serious crime as a juvenile in Virginia.
Common legal defenses for juvenile drug offenses
There are many different ways a defense attorney can successfully defend a juvenile arrested and charged with a drug crime. Such legal strategies often involve proving:
- Unlawful search and seizure that resulted in the arrest.
- Police misconduct during the arrest, including failure to read the juvenile his or her rights during the arrest.
- Drugs involved in the arrest did not belong to the person arrested.
- Quantity of drugs seized in the arrest was less than the amount claimed by police.
- Classification of the drugs seized in the arrest was incorrect, which can result in less or more severe penalties depending on the official classification of the controlled substance.
- The drugs seized were not in the possession of the person arrested.
Can I get my juvenile drug charge dismissed?
Yes. In some cases, you may be able to have your charges dismissed depending on the circumstances of your case. And even if you are found delinquent of most criminal offenses in Virginia, your criminal record will often be sealed or expunged once you turn 18 years old and at least 5 years have passed since your final court hearing.
Such rules apply to misdemeanor juvenile criminal charges. However, if you are found delinquent (guilty) of a felony juvenile criminal offense, your criminal record cannot be expunged or destroyed. Any juvenile found guilty of a felony in Virginia will have that conviction on their criminal record for life – and it will count as a prior conviction for future charges.
You have rights. We can fight for them
Juvenile criminal cases in Virginia can have serious consequences. Your entire life can change if you are taken into custody (arrested) and found delinquent (guilty) at an adjudication hearing (trial). You may not be able to go to the college of your choice. You may not be able to enlist in the armed services or hold certain jobs.
With so much on the line, you cannot afford to take chances with your future. That’s why you need Welch & Wright, PLLC on your side. Our Norfolk juvenile criminal defense attorneys know exactly what to do. Our trial lawyers have extensive courtroom experience in the Hampton Roads, Virginia area. As a result, we know how the legal system works in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Newport News, and other Hampton Roads locations.
Make the most of your opportunity for justice. Give yourself a second chance. Contact our law firm to learn more about your legal options. Schedule a free case evaluation with one of our experienced Norfolk, VA juvenile criminal defense lawyers today.