Mental Health and Juvenile Court: Ensuring Your Child’s Best Interests Are Protected

mental health juvenile court

If your minor child has been charged with a crime, their case will proceed through juvenile court, and the mental health impact on your child can be considerable. Your job as your child’s advocate is ensuring that their best interests are supported throughout the legal process, and the best way to do so is with a dedicated Ohio criminal defense attorney in your corner who has considerable experience guiding juvenile cases to beneficial resolutions.

Your Child’s Mental Health and Juvenile Court

Your child’s mental health is obviously paramount, and the goal is to protect their legal rights throughout the legal process while also paying attention to their emotional state – and getting the help you need to help your child. Being charged with a crime – or being charged with having committed a delinquent act in the juvenile court system – is exceptionally stressful for a young person, and the two single best steps you can take to protect your child throughout are:

  • Offering your child your complete support from the outset, including ensuring that they receive the professional counseling necessary to process their fears and emotions
  • Working closely with a skilled criminal defense attorney who has nuanced knowledge related to challenging juvenile cases

Because your child’s mental health is paramount, it is a matter that you shouldn’t lose sight of as their case proceeds.

What Is Juvenile Court?

Every state has a special process that is reserved for juvenile offenders, and the process generally takes place in juvenile court. Instead of your child being formally accused of committing a crime, they will face the charge of having committed an act of delinquency. To be eligible for juvenile court, they must have been no older than 17 when the crime was allegedly committed. Some states also set lower age limits, and children who have not reached this minimum age are deemed incapable of committing a crime – and are therefore not charged.

The juvenile court process typically begins when a police officer or prosecutor charges the minor by filing a petition that charges your child with violating a criminal statute and asks the court to declare them delinquent. If the matter is proven, the court will enter what is known as delinquency adjudication (which parallels the conviction an adult would face) and may order the juvenile equivalent of a sentence, which is a disposition. The distinction, however, is that an adult’s sentence is intended to punish them for their wrongdoing, while a juvenile’s disposition is intended to rehabilitate the minor. The juvenile court typically retains legal authority over the child for a specific period of time (generally until they reach the age of adulthood).

Being in the Juvenile Court System

If your child is facing a charge in the juvenile court system, it is naturally very stressful not only for you as a parent but also for your child. The following forms of stress can leave your child in emotional turmoil:

  • The stress of being in trouble with the law and disappointing you – their parent – and the process can be overwhelming.
  • The fear of the unknown, including how the process works and how the matter will be resolved, is often exceptionally anxiety-provoking.
  • The weight of not knowing how this incident might affect their future, which stretches before them, can be daunting.

While you are naturally dealing with your own stress and emotions in relation to your child’s situation, it’s important to recognize that your child’s emotional immaturity (due to their age and inexperience) makes the matter that much more difficult for them. Speaking to a mental health professional about how to support your child throughout this exceptionally difficult process is an excellent idea, and your dedicated criminal defense attorney can be an excellent resource toward this end.

Common Juvenile Charges

Not all charges brought through juvenile courts are delinquency cases related to the commission of a crime. Instead, there are three basic categories of offenses, including:

  • Delinquency cases – If your child is alleged to have done something that would be charged as a crime if they weren’t a juvenile, it’s a delinquency case. And it’s important to note that the procedure will vary considerably from the adult criminal justice system.
  • Status offenses – Status offenses apply only to minors, and they involve matters such as truancy (or skipping school), running away from home, and curfew violations.
  • Juvenile protection or dependency – Cases related to minors who’ve been abused or neglected by those responsible for them are also heard in juvenile court.

Your Child’s Mental Health and Juvenile Court: An Experienced Ohio Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

If your child is facing a charge in Juvenile court, their mental health and legal rights are paramount, and an experienced Ohio criminal defense attorney can help with both. To learn more, please contact us today.

Author Bio

Botnick Law Firm

Robert Botnick is CEO and Managing Partner of Botnick Law Firm, a criminal defense law firm in Cleveland, OH. With more than 19 years of experience in criminal defense, he has zealously represented clients in a wide range of legal matters, including DUIs, misdemeanors, felonies, domestic violence, and other criminal charges.

Robert received his Juris Doctor from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University and is a member of the Ohio State Bar Association. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including the Best DUI Lawyers in Cleveland award by

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