The Unique Role of a Lawyer in Juvenile Justice

In today’s fast paced and sometimes detached society, many children are neglected by their parents and society, therefore having to fend for themselves. Many of these children end up falling through the cracks of society and don’t fit in with their peer groups. What makes this even sadder is that many of these children end up hanging out with the wrong crowd and find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

In the legal system, a child between the ages of ten and eighteen who commits a crime is known as a delinquent. These situations are typically resolved by the intervention of the juvenile court system.

Because of the child’s age and the impact of these events in their lives, these cases are handled differently than in the adult law system. As such, the lawyers handling these cases cannot treat them the same way that they would an adult for the same crime.

  • Juvenile delinquency is a delicate issue. It calls for special knowledge and expertise of the juvenile court system.
  • Lawyers handling juvenile cases need to be empathetic and understanding of the child. The child may act and behave differently from others their age.
  • A working knowledge of child psychology is also necessary for the lawyer to effectively help the child.
  • Once a child commits a crime, it falls on the lawyer to find the root of the child’s problems. They must attempt to determine those events or factors in the child’s environment and relationships with others that may have played a role in the child becoming a delinquent.

Occasionally the stress that comes with committing a crime may affect the child mentally, causing them to withdraw from their environment after the crime. In these cases, the responsibilities of the lawyer towards the child increase.

  • The lawyer must have the ability to find his way into the child’s heart and mind.
  • Juvenile lawyers receive special training to allow them to bring to light the background and circumstances that may have lead the child to commit the crime.
  • The lawyer may seek the expertise of doctors or child psychiatrists in an attempt to get the child to open up. Doing so will give the lawyer a better chance of gathering the information necessary to put together the pieces of the puzzle.
  • The juvenile lawyer must make themselves clear when making their case to the court on the child’s behalf. They must be extremely logical in their approach of presenting the events that lead to the crime.

It has come to the attention of leading sociologists that the number of child delinquency cases is on the rise. Frequently, the child is exposed to an atypical environment that molds his mind and affects his or her behavior in an abnormal and socially unacceptable way.

Sociologists believe that a focus on the emotional aspect of the child delinquent can be essential in understanding what motivated or triggered the crime. Therefore, it is up to the child lawyer to pull on the emotions of the jury or judge to create sympathy for the child. If successful, they increase the chances of the case being acquitted or the verdict being more lenient in favor of the child. The end goal for the lawyer in these cases is to present the case in a manner that will not leave the child open to strong legal action.

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