If your child has been charged with a crime on the east side Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond or Seattle it is time to educate yourself about the process before it's too late.
Juvenile court is different that adult court and has three purposes:
2. Hold youth accountable
3. Ensure public safety
These goals may be approached with a number of methods:
A. Diversion: If this is a first offense or a less serious offense your child may be allowed into a youth diversion program. The King County program is called the "Partnership for Youth Justice." Punishments for diversion programs generally include community service, restitution to victims and other activities.
B. Criminal Charges: In more serious cases the King County prosecutor will bring formal charges against your child. These charges can have serious consequences in terms of employment and college applications. Guilt in criminal charges will be decided by a judge, jury's are not available in juvenile court.
Your child's rights: As a parent it is important to understand that you have no rights in juvenile court. The identified respondent (your child) is the only one that has rights under the law. These rights include:
1. Right to be notified of charges.
2. The Right to have an attorney present.
3. Right against self-incrimination.
Parent's role in representation: As the parent you have a right to attend court proceedings and interact with your child's attorney. The information and insight you provide to your child's attorney can be critical in the decision making process.
Effect on Employment and College: The important stuff!
In Washington State, all juvenile court convictions are a public record. This means that even charges that are filed against a youth are available to the public. A juvenile conviction or adjudication basically has the same impact on employment or college applications as any other conviction.
Employment: Juvenile convictions can impact a person's ability to find employment well into their 20's and 30's. This is particularly true if the juvenile conviction is a theft related conviction of shoplifting or burglary. Theft in the 3rd degree and Burglary in the 2nd degree are the two most common theft related charges and both are likely to be a barrier to employment.
Employers today are likely to perform background checks. Your child's application for employment may be one of many. Discarding an application with a theft conviction is standard operating procedure for most employers.
College and university applications: Most universities across the United States use the "The Common Application." These universities include schools like: Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Seattle University and most universities across the country and here in Washington state. The "Common Application" asks the following questions:
1. Have you ever been placed on probation, suspended, removed, dismissed or expelled from any school or academic program since 9th grade?
2. Other than traffic offenses, have you ever been convicted of any misdemeanor, felony, or other crime?
If you answered yes to either question, please provide an explanation and the approximate dates of each incident. Please attach your response to the end of the application.
Short answer: If your child has been convicted of a crime as a juvenile they will be required to disclose this during the application process and attach a supplemental essay to their application. This can obviously impact a school's desire to admit your child to the university.
Sealing Juvenile Records: The process of sealing juvenile records can differ depending on the crime and the period of time that has passed since it occurred. If you are interested in sealing your juvenile records you should consult with a juvenile attorney.