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A Guide to Juvenile Crime in Arizona

December 8, 2023

While minors can commit crimes and be tried in court, they are not typically tried like adults. There is an entirely distinct aspect of law known as the juvenile justice system. This structure handles crimes committed by juveniles. In Arizona, the juvenile justice system is geared towards rehabilitating minors that may have committed crimes with the goal of helping them avoid offenses as an adult. It is also designed to enforce Arizona’s laws and assign the appropriate consequences for juveniles found guilty. By contrast, the justice system for adults is more focused on punishing wrongdoers and asserting the legitimacy of the law. If you have a child who has been accused of a crime, you’ll need to navigate the complex world of the juvenile justice system. Criminal defense attorney Janet Altschuler is here to share all the essential information you may find useful when dealing with a juvenile crime. 

What is considered a juvenile crime in Arizona?

In the state of Arizona, a juvenile is considered to be anyone between the ages of 8 and 18.  If a resident of Arizona in this age range commits a crime, it is known as a juvenile crime. Juvenile crimes cover both misdemeanors and felonies in Arizona. Juveniles can be tried for a wide variety of crimes, including violations of laws that only apply to juveniles. This can include: 

  • Skipping school/truancy 
  • Violating rules of local curfews or home rules
  • Smoking 
  • Disobeying court orders 
  • Running away from home
  • Any other crime that is only illegal for juveniles (ex: underage drinking)

Juvenile Crime in Arizona

While juvenile crime in Arizona is not as common as it is in other states, it is still a major part of the courts system. Thousands of juvenile arrests are processed in Arizona each year, and many of them result in convictions. However, some of the most common juvenile crimes are not as serious as more common crimes committed by adults. These include larceny/theft, vandalism, liquor law violations, disorderly conduct, and loitering. 

However, there are still many serious crimes that juveniles commonly commit in Arizona, such as: 

  • Simple & aggravated assault 
  • Drug possession
  • Burglary
  • Robbery/armed robbery
  • Weapons violations
  • Motor vehicle theft

The Juvenile Court Process in Arizona

  • The Crime is Investigated – If a juvenile commits a punishable offense, the juvenile justice system will begin to investigate the incident. Depending on the alleged crime, the juvenile could be detained or arrested. They could also receive a citation or a ticket. If there is an associated fine, it must be paid.
  • Charges Are Filed – Law enforcement will investigate the juvenile’s alleged offense. After gathering all the relevant information, they will convey their findings to the County Attorney’s office. The County Attorney will review the information and decide whether there is actually a crime to be prosecuted. They will also make recommendations on whether the juvenile should face penalties for their actions. If they decide to prosecute, the charges will be filed with the juvenile court. 
  • Advisory Hearing – After charges are filed, an advisory hearing will be scheduled to set a timeline for investigating the case. If the juvenile does not obtain representation from a criminal defense attorney, they will be assigned an attorney by the courts. During the hearing, the juvenile’s attorney will enter their plea. The judge will either let the juvenile live with their family during proceedings or order that they be detained. 
  • Adjudication Hearing & Judgement – If an adjudication is needed, the hearing will proceed. There will be no jury, but like adult court, the prosecution must prove the juvenile’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Witnesses can be called if available and the juvenile’s attorney can present a defense. Once each side has presented their arguments, the judge will make the final decision. If the juvenile is found guilty, a disposition hearing will be scheduled to administer the necessary consequences. This could mean the juvenile being placed on probation, paying fines, doing community service, or being put into a juvenile detention facility. 

Book Your Free Consultation with Janet Altschuler Today

If your child has been accused of a juvenile crime, it is essential to get the best possible representation. Depending on the violation, the juvenile could have trouble getting into college or gaining employment in the future. Janet Altschuler has over 20 years of experience defending local juveniles, and she can help you build the best possible case. Contact her today for a free consultation. 

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