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Virginia youths face consequences if they commit a crime

It is well-recognized that adolescents and teenagers are still developing physically, mentally and emotionally. They do not have the maturity, forethought or experience to always understand the consequences of their actions. Sometimes, this means that youths in Virginia who are accused of committing juvenile crimes will be facing the Juvenile Justice System.

If the youth is not tried as an adult in circuit court, and is found guilty of committing a crime, there are a number of types of dispositions the youth may face. What disposition is ordered will depend on the crime the youth committed.

One disposition is to defer adjudication of the disposition for a specific length of time. Sometimes a youth in this case will be under probation, but not always. If the youth behaves well during the time the adjudication is deferred, then the case may be dismissed.

Other types of dispositions are monetary. The youth may be ordered to pay a fine or pay restitution. The youth may also be ordered to perform public service. Other types of dispositions include suspending the youth's license to drive or giving the youth a curfew. Sometimes a youth -- or his or her parents -- must go through certain programs or services. It may be necessary to give another person, agency or organization legal custody of the youth.

The youth could be placed on probation. This probation may come with contingencies, including mandating that the youth participate in certain services or programs. A youth might be placed in a juvenile detention center for up to 30 days. The youth may also have to participate in a post-detention program in a juvenile detention center for up to six months. Finally, the youth might be committed to the Department of Juvenile Justice. This may be for a definite or indefinite period of time.

As this shows, there are a variety of types of dispositions that could be imposed on youths through the Juvenile Justice System in Virginia. It is important to keep in mind that youths deserve to learn from their mistakes. Leniency may be a way to teach youths a lesson without unnecessarily impacting their futures for the rest of their lives.

Source: Virginia Department Of Juvenile Justice, "Juvenile Justice Process," accessed March 4, 2018

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