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What dispositions are available for juvenile crimes?

Making mistakes is just part of growing up. Some of the mistakes teenagers make are not very serious and serve as a good learning experience. However, sometimes teenagers make poor decisions that have more serious consequences. For example, if a teenager in Virginia possesses drugs, commits a traffic offense or consumes alcohol, he or she could be criminally charged. Fortunately, except for very serious offenses, there are options when it comes to the disposition of juvenile crimes.

If a juvenile commits a crime and is ruled by a judge to be delinquent, there are a variety of dispositions that could be imposed upon the juvenile. The many types of dispositions reflect the notion that juveniles deserve the chance to rehabilitate themselves, so they can become productive members of society. Mistakes made in a person's youth, with some exceptions, should not affect a person for their lifetime.

For example, a disposition can be deferred for a certain amount of time, with or without probation. Sometimes, if the youth exhibits good behavior while he or she is in the deferral period, the case will be dismissed. Sometimes juveniles will be fined, will need to pay restitution or perform community service. If the juvenile has a driver's license, this may be suspended. The juvenile may be ordered to obey a curfew. And, sometimes a juvenile is placed on probation. In more serious cases, the juvenile will need to spend time in a juvenile detention center.

While some of these dispositions are similar to those an adult may face, others are much more lenient. Juveniles deserve the chance to make amends for their indiscretions. However, in order to secure the best possible disposition, a juvenile will need to present a compelling case. He or she has a right to an attorney, and the right against self-incrimination, among other constitutional rights. Also, delinquency must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. If this standard is not met, the juvenile cannot be found delinquent. But, if a juvenile in Virginia is found delinquent, it is important to know that there are many options a judge has with regards to the juvenile's disposition.

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Sevila, Saunders, Huddleston & White
30 North King Street
Leesburg, VA 20176

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