How Serious is a Juvenile Crime in Arizona?

Your child’s life may be seriously affected from both a practical and legal perspective if he or she is arrested and ultimately convicted of committing a crime as a juvenile in Arizona.  Not only can a juvenile record can create a tremendous amount of stress within the family (as your child’s education and living arrangement may be dictated by the State), certain crimes (driving under the influence, for example) drastically alter the penalties of future convictions when your child becomes an adult.  Moreover, a conviction against your child in Arizona is not necessarily “expunged” when he or she becomes an adult as some presume. 

When the State charges an adult with a crime, certain rights guaranteed to protect an adult simply do not apply to juveniles brought before a court.  For example, a juvenile may be referred to a Court if an officer, teacher, school administrator, probation officer, or even a parent wishes for the court to hear a particular matter (almost like a third party arbitrator to resolve a dispute).  Moreover, the formalities of a criminal prosecution in the adult system are statutorily different for similar hearings involving minors.  Accordingly, the threshold for detaining juveniles is not nearly as high as it is for adults in the Arizona Criminal System.

In Arizona, a court may detain a juvenile if probation is violated or there is mere probable cause to believe that information from the referral mentioned above is accurate.  A court may detain a juvenile if the court finds there is reasonable cause to believe the juvenile will commit another crime while, in contrast, the adult criminal system requires a jury find the accused person committed the crime beyond all reasonable doubt.

If the court determines that a charge or referral is valid, your child may be detained at a juvenile center or may be sent to some sort of diversion program.  Diversion programs provide your child an opportunity to have a second chance by working off their crime by satisfactory behavior for a period of time.  In diversion, the juvenile avoids court and can have the referral adjusted if certain conditions are satisfied.

Because of these issues, and many others (such as negotiating with State prosecutors, knowing the process to have charges or referrals dismissed, and being familiar with the programs available to minors), it is important that you seek the help of someone who is familiar with Arizona’s Juvenile Legal System so that they may guide you through the perils that exist.  If you need advice or representation in a juvenile legal matter, please call The Carroll Law Firm at 623-551-9366 with any questions or concerns or visit


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