Juvenile FAQ

What happens to my child in Idaho Juvenile Court?

This is probably the most common questions when it comes to Juvenile Court. The maximum punishments for Juvenile Court crimes are 30 days detention for a status offence, 90 days detention for a misdemeanor, and 180 days detention for a felony. In some cases, your child may be committed to the care of the Department of Juvenile Corrections until his or her twenty-first birthday. Also, your child may be put onto probation until his or her twenty-first birthday. Please remember that while these are the maximum punishments, an experienced lawyer like Steve Minert can help so that it will be unlikely your child faces the maximum punishments.

What is a “status offense” in Idaho?

Status offenses are actions that are illegal for juveniles based upon their “status” as a young person. Once a juvenile turns eighteen, these actions are no longer considered criminal. In Idaho Juvenile Court, your child may only be charged with three types of status offenses: Runaway, Curfew Violations, and Juvenile Beyond Control.

How long will it take to finish my child’s case in Idaho Juvenile Court?

In juvenile court, charges are usually filed a month or so after the date of incident. If the prosecutor files charges, your child may receive a summons directing you and your child to appear at Juvenile Court at what is called an Admit/Deny Hearing. At an Admit/Deny Hearing, your child must enter a plea (either admit or deny the charge) and the prosecutor must resolve the case or take it to trial within ninety days. While a normal juvenile case may take this entire time to resolve, many cases resolve more quickly.

Will an Idaho juvenile charge keep my child from going to college?

Most college students depend on Federal Student Aid to help them pay their college tuition. In some situations, a drug distribution or drug possession conviction may keep your child from receiving federal student loans. Happily, convictions that are dismissed, expunged, or happen before someone turns age eighteen and starts receiving Federal Student Aid will not keep your child from receiving needed aid. For more information, please seen the U.S. government’s student loan web page.

Will an Idaho juvenile charge keep my child from joining the military?

This may depend upon which branch of the military your child wants to join, and upon what conviction type your child has. As a general rule, a felony conviction will make your child ineligible to serve in the Armed Forces. In addition, a person who the military considers as having “significant” criminal history are usually  not eligible to join the military either. While there is a waiver process for military applicants who have a criminal history, a waiver of criminal history is not always granted. If your child wants to join the military, an experienced attorney not only may help your child get the best result possible in court, but may also help your child prepare to work closely with military recruiters.

Will a Juvenile Court charge always stay on my child’s record?

Not automatically. A juvenile conviction can be kept off your child’s record by two main ways. The first way is to have a defense lawyer negotiate with the prosecutor so that your child receives what is called an “informal adjustment.” With an informal adjustment, the judge is allowed to dismiss your child’s case after your child successfully completes his or her sentencing requirements and (usually) a term of probation. The second way is for your child to seek to have his juvenile record expunged. A benefit of expungement is that it removes any visible record of your child’s criminal charges, whether they are dismissed or not. To receive this benefit, your child must wait for five years from the time of a felony conviction and one year from the time of a misdemeanor conviction. Please remember that certain convictions, such as those for Aggravated Battery, Felony Injury to Child, Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer, and other serious felony convictions are not able to be expunged. However, an experienced attorney will work hard from the beginning to negotiate the charge(s) in your child’s case down to a lower charge that eventually may be expunged.

What will happen if my child is charged in both Juvenile and Adult Court?

On occasion, a juvenile may be charged offender is charged in both Adult Court and Juvenile Court based upon the same incident. Certain violations, such as for alcohol, tobacco, or traffic violations are required by law to be initially charged in Adult Court, even if the juvenile is under age eighteen at the time the alleged crime occurred. As an example, your child may be charged in Adult Court for a tobacco charge, while at the same time being charge for breaking curfew (a status offense) in Juvenile Court. This type of situation may be time consuming and even confusing for both your child and your family. An experienced attorney will explore with you and the prosecutor the possibility of consolidating both cases into juvenile court to (hopefully) save you time, money—and stress.

Do the Police need to get my permission before they speak to my child?

Unfortunately, the short answer is usually no. When a juvenile is accused of committing a crime, they police the child just like an adult. Juveniles can be stopped by police, searched, questioned, and have all of this done without parent permission. Please remember that police are, however, required to follow the law when stopping, searching or questioning your child. There are also special rules for searching and questioning young people. If the police choose not to follow these rules, it may affect your child’s case, in that the prosecutor may have to dismiss the charge(s). Please be sure to consult a lawyer if you suspect or believe that special circumstances affect your child’s situation.

When can my child be charged as an adult for a crime?

In some cases a juvenile may be charged as an adult. For certain crimes, a child will always be charged as an adult. Examples include Murder, Rape, Robbery, Distributing a Controlled substance at or near a Public School, and other serious felonies. In other cases, the prosecutor may petition the Juvenile Court to transfer your child’s case into Adult Court. These situations are more rare, and are handled on a case-by-case basis. A transfer—capped a waiver—may seriously affect your child, with the most frightening possibility being that your child will be treated as an adult offender while facing the adult system court system. If your child is facing a waiver or you fear your child’s case may result in a waiver, consult with an experienced lawyer soon in order to explore your child’s options.