Salt Lake City Juvenile Crime Attorney

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Attorney Representation in Salt Lake City, Utah for over 30 years

I have prosecuted and defended cases in juvenile court for over three decades which gives me an understanding of the Juvenile Court system. These inlude but are not limited to the following:

Juvenile crimes are a unique legal arena and while many of the same legal principles apply in delinquency cases as in adult court there are many idiosyncrasies unique to juvenile court that require an attorney with experience in juvenile court. With my experience I can assist you in navigating the juvenile system.

The basics of Utah Juvenile law tell us that any person under the age of 18 will be prosecuted in Juvenile Court. The Juvenile Court system treats a person accused of a crime differently than the adult system. A juvenile is punished differently and evaluated differently. The Juvenile Court system wants to rehabilitate the juvenile and it states that as its’ goal. However, the Juvenile Court system employs a stick as well as a carrot so the parent of a juvenile needs an experienced Attorney to represent their child.

Juveniles and their parents have constitutional rights that the police, the probation officers and the Judges must respect and a good parent should have an experienced attorney by their child’s side to make sure that child’s rights are protected. The burden of proof to convict a child of a criminal offense is Beyond a Reasonable Doubt and that needs to be emphasized. The Fourth Amendment, which protects people from illegal search and seizure protects juveniles as well. For example a principal, vice principal, teacher or school cop cannot search a backpack without just cause and I have won cases when the vice principal who should be teaching children about their rights in this country forgets that she needs to adhere to those principles as well.

I personally have been appearing in the Juvenile Court system for nearly 30 years, put my experience to work for your child.

An experienced juvenile crime attorney will make rehabilitation a priority for his client

In the adult system the intent of the law is to punish first and rehabilitate second. In the juvenile system the intent, theoretically, is to rehabilitate first and punish second. Sometimes the prosecutors, probation officers and judges running the juvenile court system need the voice of an experienced defense attorney to remind them of that principle.

The Juvenile Court Act  section 78A-6-101 governs the juvenile justice system in Utah. Any person who has committed a crime and is under the age of 18 will be dealt with in juvenile court. The juvenile court has what is known as ongoing jurisdiction for people until they turn 21.      

The juvenile court also handles DCFS cases where abuse, neglect or dependency of children are at issue. I have experience in these areas as well.

Some traffic offenses are dealt with in traffic court but serious cases such as DUI, driving with a measureable metabolite and reckless driving go to juvenile court.

Saltlake City Defense Attorney in Juvenile Crimes

Assault charges,
Criminal mischief, 
Disorderly conduct,
Domestic violence,
Driving with Metabolite
Drug offenses,
Minor In Possession of Alcohol
Protective orders
Public intoxication,
Sex offenses,
Theft charges,
Traffic offenses.

Serious Youth Offender

Usually the charges stay in juvenile court but certain crimes may end up in the adult system. This happens in two circumstances. The first is when the law labels the crime an aggravated offense. Examples of these crimes: Aggravated Arson, aggravated assault with serious bodily injury, aggravated kidnapping, aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, felony discharge of a firearm, aggravated murder or attempted aggravated murder. Also if a weapon is involved in a crime and the child has a prior weapon offense it may be a serious youth offender crime.

The second instance of where the State can prosecute a child as a serious youth offender is when the child is charged with a felony and it is found that is in the best interest of the public/society or the juvenile for the case to be heard in adult court.

This in a complex area of the law and an attorney with experience in the juvenile and adult system is required.

The Process

The introduction of the family into the juvenile system begins after the juvenile has encountered law enforcement and an investigation has taken place.  It is at this stage people realize something bad and with far reaching consequences has taken place and they call me. I advise and assist them during this phase. The next step is when the family receives a petition and summons telling them what the charges are and when the family needs to go to court. ( Most misdemeanor offenses may be handled by citation at the discretion of the police.)  Once a citation is issued or a petition is received it is essential to have an attorney by your side.

The first court appearance is a detention hearing if the juvenile has been arrested and taken to detention. The detention hearing takes place within a few days before a judge.

The next appearance is an arraignment and if the juvenile wasn’t taken to detention this is the first court date. The judge informs the family of what the charges are and then sets the case for a pretrial conference so that the defense attorney can get the discovery and negotiate with the prosecutor.
The discovery and an interview with the juvenile guide me on how to proceed. The case is analyzed and the juvenile’s defenses are determined. The juvenile system affords the same constitutional rights to the juvenile that an adult has except the right to a jury trial.

If the defense prevails the juveniles’ charges will be dismissed. That doesn’t always happen though and in those instances a plea bargain takes place or the judge finds the juvenile guilty. Then the next step is disposition which is sentencing in juvenile court.

At disposition the juvenile judge has many options. He can place the juvenile on informal probation. If the judge believes more intervention is required she can use formal probation.  In serious situations the judge can remove the juvenile from the parent’s custody and place the juvenile in the custody of the Juvenile Justice Services or the Division of Child and Family Services.


What I have written here serves as an overview of the system and should not be used as a guideline on how to do it yourself. If you believe your child is going to be in the juvenile system contact me and let me help you through a  difficult time.