The Juvenile Courts in Georgia have jurisdiction over children who have not yet turned seventeen and commit a “delinquent act” which would otherwise constitute a criminal offense if the child were seventeen or older. Jurisdiction for children may lie in superior court for some of the more serious criminal charges, or in the case of repeat offenders. Although punishment occurs, often in the form of commitment to a juvenile detention center, there is certainly more focus on rehabilitation in the juvenile courts. We try to get creative in giving the juvenile court judges options to punish and rehabilitate without the necessity of incarceration.
We have defended children charged with a very wide variety of delinquent acts, including possession of marijuana, possession of prescription drugs, rape, child molestation, sexual assault, incest, sexual exploitation, gang-related activities, theft, shoplifting, burglary, kidnapping, hijacking, criminal trespass, criminal damage to property, and numerous offenses associated with private and public schools.
For first time offenders, our goal is always to seek a dismissal, or have the matter resolved informally with supervision and community service, rather than a formal adjudication or guilty plea.
We strongly believe that the juvenile court process provides opportunity for children to correct unacceptable behavior and learn to use better judgment in all aspects of their lives. We want to help children learn from their mistakes, make better choices, gain some sense of self-worth, and feel encouraged and empowered to become successful in life.
We understand that sometimes good kids make bad decisions or exercise poor judgment. Our job in every juvenile case is to ensure that those foolish choices don’t leave any lasting impact on a child’s future. In many instances we are able to have the child’s case file sealed so that the mistakes of a child don’t pop up in the future.
SCHOOL DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDINGS
If the delinquent act at issue occurs in a school setting or on school property, your child will likely be subjected to the “double whammy” of disciplinary action taken by the school in addition to the delinquency complaint filed in juvenile court. At Kilgore & Rodriguez we are experienced and familiar with the disciplinary hearing process or tribunal. Before the school may levy the most serious penalties upon your child, such as long-term suspension or expulsion, you have the right to contest the allegations of any violation of the student code of conduct. These hearings often present the opportunity to confront the evidence against your child, cross-examine witnesses, and present an explanation or defense to the charges. Keep in mind that the school will be represented by a seasoned lawyer at these hearings.
Of course, if your child has already reached the age of seventeen, then he or she may be facing misdemeanor or felony criminal charges in addition to any school disciplinary action. In these instances it is absolutely crucial to have Kilgore & Rodriguez involved at the earliest opportunity.