Will This Affect Their Criminal Record
One of the biggest questions parents or guardians ask when a child or teenager is arrested is, “Will this affect their criminal record?” Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question as juvenile cases can be very complex, and the outcomes of juvenile cases depend on several factors.
Juvenile delinquency generally refers to the unlawful acts committed by youths. These unlawful acts would have been charged as crimes if the youths were instead adults. Technically speaking, there is a difference between a child or teenager being “adjudicated delinquent” and being “convicted” of a crime. There are several reasons for this distinction, but two of the most common are (1) a child is a person in a specified age range who tends to live under the supervision of a parent or guardian; and (2) the emphasis in juvenile court is on rehabilitation and support, and not necessarily punishment.
At What Age Does a Person Qualify as a Juvenile?
Nevada law defines a juvenile as a “child.” Under Nevada law, a “child” is any of the following:
• A person who is less than 18 years of age
• A person who is less than 21 years of age and subject to the jurisdiction of the juvenile court for an unlawful act that was committed before the person reached 18 years of age
• A person who is otherwise subject to the jurisdiction of the juvenile court as a juvenile sex offender
When Might a Juvenile Be Charged as an Adult?
• Even if a person is considered a child based on his or her age, a person may be charged
as an adult if he or she is charged with:
• Murder or attempted murder if the person was at least 16 years of age at the time;
• Sexual assault or attempted sexual assault involving the use or threatened use of force if the person was at least 16 years of age;
• Use or threatened use of a firearm if the person was at least 16 years of age;
• A felony resulting in death or substantial bodily harm on public or private school property when students or employees of the school were present;
• A category A or B felony if the person was at least 16 but less than 18 years of age;
• For any other offense, if the child has been previously convicted of another criminal offense.
What Is a Delinquent Act?
Many offenses committed by kids, teenagers, and young adults are considered “delinquent acts” and not necessarily “crimes” because of the child’s age. A child commits a delinquent act if the child:
• Violates any rule or regulation having the force of law
• Commits an act designated a criminal offense pursuant to the laws of Nevada
This means that if a child or teenager commits an offense that would be a crime for an adult, the juvenile court can treat the act as a delinquent act instead of a crime.
What Are Common Offenses That Are Considered Delinquent?
A child may be adjudicated delinquent for the unlawful act of placing graffiti on or
otherwise defacing public or private property owned or possessed by another person. Graffiti includes any inscription, word, figure, or design that is marked, etched, drawn, or painted on or affixed to the public or private property, real or personal.
A child may also be adjudicated delinquent for carrying a graffiti implement such as any broad-tipped indelible marker, aerosol paint container, carbide-tipped instrument or other item that may be used to apply graffiti to any surface or otherwise deface public or private property.
Drugs or Alcohol
A child may be adjudicated delinquent for the unlawful act of using, possessing, selling or distributing any controlled substance. Most commonly this involves using or possessing marijuana. A child may also be adjudicated delinquent for purchasing, consuming or possessing an alcoholic beverage.
Although “shoplifting” is often used in everyday conversation, there actually is no crime of “shoplifting” under Nevada law. Instead, a child who commits a “shoplifting” would most likely be charged with larceny. A person (child) commits larceny when he or she intentionally steals, takes or carries away, the property of another with a value of less or real property with a value of less than $650. In instances where the value of the property is more than $650, then he or she will most likely be charged with grand larceny.
Trespassing occurs when a person (child) goes upon the land or into a building of another with intent to annoy the owner or occupant, or to commit any unlawful act, on the property or in the building. A child can also be charged with trespassing if he or she willfully goes onto or remains on the property after having been warned by the owner or occupant not to come onto the land or into the building.
A student can be deemed to be a truant if he or she is absent from school too many times without good cause. In short, too many unexecuted absences can result in a child being deemed a truant under Nevada law.
Any child who has been declared a truant 3 or more times within one school year will be declared a habitual truant.
Truancy can prevent a teenager from obtaining or maintaining a driver license. Too many absences can result in the loss of a student’s driver license for 30 day on a first truancy offense and 60 days on a second truancy offense. In cases where the student has not yet obtained a driver license, truancy can make a student ineligible to obtain a driver license. Even if a child turns 18 while ineligible to obtain a driver license because of truancy, the child (now adult) will still be unable to obtain a driver license.
When Is a Juvenile in Need of Supervision?
In other cases, the juvenile court can determine that a child is not delinquent, but rather in need of supervision. Situations that may result in the Juvenile Court finding a need for supervision includes:
• A child who violates a county or municipal ordinance
• Subject to compulsory school attendance and/or the student has been deemed a habitual truant from school
• A child habitually disobeys the reasonable and lawful demands of the parent or guardian, and is therefore unmanageable
• Deserts, abandons, or runs away from the home or usual place of abode
• Uses an electronic communication device to transmit or distribute a sexual image (“sexting”) of himself or herself to another person or to possess a sexual image in violation of Nevada law
• Transmits or distributes an image of bullying
• Violates a county or municipal ordinance regarding any curfew
• Violates a country or municipal ordinance regarding loitering by a child
• Commits an offense related to tobacco
What Are the Penalties for Juvenile Delinquency?
The juvenile court may order a delinquent child to pay a fine and an administrative assessment. If a delinquent child is less than 17 years of age, the juvenile court may order the parent or guardian of the child to pay any fines and penalties. If the parent or guardian of the child is unable to pay, the parent or guardian of the child may be ordered to perform community service in lieu of the fine.
A child may be ordered to provide restitution to the victim or to participate in a
program designed to provide restitution to a victim. Restitution may include medical expenses for an unlawful act that causes physical injury to the victim or expenses for damaged property. If the child is unable to provide restitution, the parent or guardian of the child will be ordered to provide restitution. If the child or the parent or guardian of the child is unable to provide restitution, the child or the parent or guardian of the child may be ordered to perform community service.
The juvenile court may order the child or the parent or guardian of the child, or both, to perform community service. Community service may include public service, work on public projects, supervised work for the benefit of the community, or any other work required by the juvenile court.
The juvenile court may order the child or the parent or guardian of the child, or both, to deposit with the juvenile court a reasonable sum of money to pay for the cost of a policy for insurance against liability for personal injury and damage to property.
If a child has not previously been adjudicated delinquent or in need of supervision and the unlawful act committed by the delinquent child did not involve the use or threatened use of force or violence against a victim, the juvenile court may order a child to complete any or all of the following programs, with related costs to be paid or community service to be performed in lieu of payment by the child and/or parent.
• A Program Of Cognitive Training And Human Development
A program may include, but is not limited to, education, instruction, or guidance in one or more of the following subjects, as deemed appropriate by the juvenile court: motivation; habits, attitudes, and conditioning; self-conditioning processes, developing a successful way of life, the process of solving problems, emotions and emotional blocks, assurances and demonstrative maturity, family success, family relationships, interfamilial understanding and communications, financial stability, effective communications, conflict resolution, anger management, or obtaining or retaining employment.
• A Program For The Arts
A program for the arts may include, but is not limited to, drawing, painting, photography, or other visual arts; writing; musical, dance, or theatrical performance, or any other structured activity that involves creative or artistic expression.
• A Program Of Sports Or Physical Fitness
• Suspension Or Delay In Issuance Of Driver License
The juvenile court may order that the driver license of a child be suspended for 90 days up to 2 years. If the child does not possess a driver license, the juvenile court may prohibit the child from receiving a driver license for at least 90 days up to 2 years, depending on the child’s eligibility to receive a driver license.
Commitment or Placement of Child
The juvenile court may place a child in the custody of a suitable person for supervision in the child’s home or another home such as a foster home, commit the child to the custody of a public or private institution or agency authorized to care for children, or commit the child to the custody of the Division of Child and Family Services. The juvenile court gives preference to any person who is related to the child if the juvenile court finds that the person is suitable and able to provide proper care and guidance for the child.
The juvenile court may permit a child to reside in a residence without the immediate supervision of an adult, exempt the child from mandatory attendance at school so that the child may be employed full-time, or both, if the child is at least 16 years of age, has demonstrated the capacity to benefit from this placement or exemption, and is under the strict supervision of the juvenile court.
Facilities for treatment and rehabilitation
A child adjudicated delinquent may be committed to regional or state facilities such as
Spring Mountain Youth Camp in Clark County, or to private institutions, subject to age restrictions. Each child adjudicated delinquent will be subject to screenings for mental health services or alcohol and drug abuse. The juvenile court may order the child to be evaluated for alcohol or drug abuse if the child committed an unlawful act, such as a operating a vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or a controlled substance, vehicular homicide, death or substantial bodily harm to another, or unlawful acts related to a controlled substance or alcoholic beverage. The court will then order the child to undergo a program for treatment.
Division of Child and Family Services
The juvenile court may commit a delinquent child to the custody of the Division of Child
and Family Services for placement in a correctional or institutional facility, depending on age restrictions and other requirements.
Special Supervision Programs
A “special supervision program” means a probation program. It is designed for the rehabilitation of a delinquent child and includes a degree of supervision above the usual and the use of new techniques rather than routine supervision techniques. That is, the juvenile court has more flexible standards for supervision practices and techniques. It may employ necessary probation officers who carry caseloads substantially less than required for normal or routine supervision.
How Does a Juvenile Get His or Her Record Sealed?
If a child is less than 21 years of age, the child or a probation or parole officer on behalf of the child may petition the juvenile court for an order sealing all records relating to the child. The petition may be filed not earlier than 3 years after the child was last adjudicated in need of supervision, adjudicated delinquent, or placed under the supervision of the juvenile court, and if, at the time the petition is filed, the child does not have any delinquent or criminal charges pending.
Otherwise, when a child reaches 21 years of age, all records relating to the child are sealed automatically. Even so, there are some exceptions. If a child is adjudicated delinquent for an unlawful act for sexual assault, battery with intent to commit sexual assault, or lewdness with a child, and the records relating to that unlawful act have not been sealed by the juvenile court before the child reaches 21 years of age, those records cannot be sealed before the child reaches 30 years of age. After the child reaches 30 years of age, the child may petition the juvenile court for an order sealing those records.
Does a Juvenile Have the Right to an Attorney?
If a child is alleged to be delinquent or in need of supervision, the juvenile court shall advise the child and the parent or guardian of the child that the child is entitled to be represented by an attorney at all stages of the proceedings.
The attorneys at The Wright Law Group understand that unique circumstances that often apply to juvenile cases. Our attorneys have over 25 years of experience, and we are well-suited to help you or your child receive the best possible defense. Still have questions? Call us now at (702) 405-0001 to arrange a consultation.