There are several types of phone calls you hope never to receive as a parent, one of them being that police have arrested your child. However, it happened, and now you need to figure out the best way to help your child moving forward. The good news is that the juvenile court system in South Dakota is very different than the criminal court system. Its goal is to rehabilitate minors accused of criminal offenses, more so than punish them.
The state defines a juvenile offender as anyone under the age of 17 who has committed a crime. An adult court usually addresses petty offenses and traffic-related misdemeanors, along with certain severe offenses. Criminal offenses typically handled in juvenile court include:
- Underage consumption
Juveniles do not necessarily face charges with a specific crime after their arrest; rather, they face charges as children in need of supervision.
After the arrest
After the arrest, officers will transport your child to the local juvenile detention center. After intake, you may have the ability to take him or her home right away. In some cases, children will need to remain in custody.
What are the options moving forward?
It is up to the state’s attorney to decide how to proceed. The options are to:
You’ll receive notice, typically in writing, after the state’s attorney decides the best way to proceed with your child’s case. Along with the decision, you’ll receive instructions for what you need to do next.
What happens if your child faces prosecution?
If the decision is to prosecute, the court doesn’t handle juvenile trials in the same way as adult trials. Your child may deny involvement, which will result in the case moving forward, or admit to the offense and have his or her case moved directly to sentencing. If the case moves forward, a judge will hear it, not a jury.
Fight for your child
As frightening as it can be to find out police have arrested your child, remember that an arrest is not necessarily the end of the world. There are things you can do to fight for your child and ensure his or her rights are protected. While there are no guarantees that things will go your child’s way, with assistance you can do everything in your power to help him or her achieve the best possible outcome.