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Phoenix Juvenile Crime Lawyer

Juvenile crime punishments have taken on a new ferocity within many states’ court systems, as legislators contend that juveniles should be punished just as harshly as adults in certain situations, despite the ability of potential rehabilitation. Arizona is no different and has set laws in place which not only punish juvenile offenders, but also effectively dampen their chance at future rehabilitation. If your child has been arrested for a crime in Arizona, contact an experienced Phoenix juvenile crime attorney who understands the juvenile justice system in Arizona and can formulate a defense strategy to preserve your child’s rights.

Arizona Juvenile Court

Phoenix sits in a large enough county that the court system has a special juvenile court. A judge is assigned to the court to hear all juvenile cases. Juvenile records are often sealed from the public, and therefore, any trials are held in front of a judge rather than a jury. In some Arizona counties which are not as big as Maricopa County, judges from other courts simply treat juvenile cases separate from all other criminal cases.

Juvenile Crimes

Unfortunately, one of the most common mistakes parents and children face when handling juvenile crime charges is the believe that since children are minors, any conviction- whether it is a Phoenix misdemeanor or indictable offense-  will be relatively minor and non eventful. However, this is not further from the truth. While juveniles often do receive reduce sentences if they are convicted of a violent offense, a conviction will go on their record and they will serve time, depending on the offense. It is important not to sit idly by if your child has been accused of a criminal offense. Regardless of your child’s age, any criminal conviction can severely tarnish their criminal record and affect their ability to get a job later in life or carry on an average life.

Violent crimes in Arizona such as murder, rape, statutory rape, and assault now lead to many juveniles charged as adults, which leads to decades spent in prison. Juvenile cases in Arizona proceed much the same as all other criminal court cases, and it is important to get in contact with a Phoenix juvenile crime attorney.

For a Juvenile Criminal, Which Crimes Justify Being Tried as an Adult?

If you’re a parent, it’s understandably scary when you discover your teen is being charged with a crime. One of the first questions most parents have is whether their teen is being charged as a juvenile or as an adult. Recently passed legislation makes it easier for children to be charged for their crimes as adults. Learn more about the process.

Why Can Juveniles Be Tried As Adults?

The U.S. criminal justice system charges juveniles as adults in some instances for two reasons:

  • Young adults will receive punishment in the adult criminal justice system, which is generally harsher and can be more proportional to the crime.
  • Threat of harsher punishments will decrease the amount of juvenile crime.

Unfortunately, there isn’t really enough evidence to support either of these claims. There is research that indicates that juvenile criminals convicted in adult courts do serve longer sentences than those in the juvenile system, particularly violent offenders. However, they often only serve a fraction of their sentence – in fact, less time than they would have in a juvenile facility. A study of the criminal justice system in Texas found that juveniles sentenced in adult courts did receive more time – but the average amount of time served was only 27% of that sentence.

Another study in New York supports this finding. It found that adolescents who went through the adult justice system were more likely to be convicted and incarcerated, but ultimately served an identical term to what they would have served in the juvenile system.

There is similarly little evidence to support the notion that adult sentencing reduces the amount of juvenile crime. In fact, there have only been two studies to date that study the relationship between adult sentencing and juvenile crime. These found that juvenile offenders who serve adult time aren’t in fact, “scared straight,” but more likely to recommit crimes than their juvenile-serving counterparts.

Who Gets Charged as an Adult?

In some cases, judges may grant a “waiver” of the juvenile justice system and charge a minor directly in adult court. Generally speaking, juvenile cases subject to waiver are more serious, or involve minors who are repeat offenders. Being tried as an adult may bring potential for harsher sentencing, but may also provide more constitutional protections.

In the majority of states, a juvenile must be at least 16 to be eligible for waiver for conventional court. In some cases, children as young as 13 years of age have been tried and convicted as adults. The courts look at a variety of factors before making a decision:

  • Have they been charged with a particularly serious or violent offense?
  • Do they have a previous juvenile record?
  • Are they older, or close to 18?
  • Have past juvenile intervention efforts been unsuccessful?
  • Would youth services have to work with the offender for a long time, and still be unlikely to have success based on past history?

Are There Advantages to Being Tried as an Adult?

It may seem difficult to understand, but there are certain circumstances in which a juvenile being tried as an adult might encounter some advantages. Here’s why:

  • The adult will have a right to trial by jury, which juvenile courts don’t have.
  • Juries may be more sympathetic to a younger offender.
  • In some jurisdictions, where jail crowding is an issue, the courts may impose a lighter sentence to close the case more quickly.

Of course, the adult court system also has disadvantages, the main one being harsher sentences and the inherent dangers of the prison system. Social stigma is also a concern. For further advice, consult with a defense attorney.

Orent Law Offices | Phoenix Juvenile Crime Attorney

If your child has been arrested on suspicion of juvenile crimes, do not sit idly by while they go to court. Craig Orent of the Orent Law Offices has over 25 years of experience as a criminal defense lawyer, advising and defending clients, particularly working on juvenile cases. Juvenile cases are a unique sector of criminal defense and require a thorough understanding of the charges, the court, and the repercussions. Craig Orent understands that a criminal conviction can forever taint a juvenile’s criminal record and prevent them from experiencing an average life, all for a mistake they made when they were younger. He will work tirelessly to ensure that your child receives the best defense strategy to protect their record.


  • Client Review

    Great experience. Craig was honest and upfront from the get go. Always easy to get a hold of and professional. I would highly recommend Craig Orent as your choice for representation."
    D.H.