Juvenile Crimes Explained

Youth crimes occur when an individual commits an offense and they are considered to be a minor, which is anyone under the age of 18 in the state of West Virginia. In recent years, nearly 60-80% of all juveniles have executed some kind of violation of the law. This can include status offenses, property crimes and violent crimes. They are each dealt with in their own specific way since the variance of severity is quite different between each category.

When a minor commits a status offense such as smoking, it is dealt with in juvenile court but is not classified as a felony. It is only considered a wrongdoing for the adolescent because it is illegal for their specific age group, unlike violent and property crimes which are unlawful for anyone to commit. Property offenses can include arson, burglary, automobile theft and vandalism to name a few.

One of the most commonly committed by children ages 10-17 is arson which is closely followed by vandalism and motor vehicle theft. Areas of violent crimes that have been evident in youth consist of robbery, aggravated assault, rape and murder. Again it appears that violent theft is commonly committed with murder at the bottom of the list of crimes performed. Both offenses dealing with property or violent action can be settled in a juvenile court or criminal justice system depending upon the crime.

West Virginia Juvenile Code

While remaining perhaps one of the most developed systems in the United States, the West Virginia juvenile code gives certain entitlements to minors. It is important that if you or your child are facing youth criminal charges that you understand your rights before stepping into court. Juveniles are entitled to a preliminary hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to continue in a trial case and are also given the right to a jury trial. The state also recognizes the importance of process rights for young adults by enforcing certain interrogation rights, including:

  • Any child under the age of 13 cannot admit to anything without the consent of their parent and attorney

  • Children between the ages of 14-16 must need the consensus of their parent or lawyer

  • Adolescents 17 and older may make admissions on their own

There is room for error in the West Virginia juvenile defense system and it is wise to have an attorney to guide you through this process. With the possibility of extended detention for relatively small cases, dependence on guilty pleas and a complete absence of quality resources, the effectiveness of this system has been dampened. Contact our firm today for a free case evaluation so that your family can receive the defense you deserve and move forward with your life. Attorney Frank Walker will actively fight for the rights of you or your child with a degree of passion that is unparalleled in West Virginia.