The McConnell Family Law Group’s juvenile law practice is focused on the two main areas of juvenile law: child protection (matters in which the State, often through DCF, seeks to intervene in family relations, such as removing children from their parents), and delinquency (cases where children are arrested and charged with criminal offenses). In both areas, it's imperative to have experienced legal representation to protect your rights and the rights of your child, and to achieve the best possible outcome for your family.
The handling of these matters is of the utmost importance as their outcome can have a major affect on your child’s life and your relationship with him or her going forward. At McConnell Family Law Group, we understand the significance of each case and have the necessary experience to resolve your issue in a caring, knowledgeable, and diligent manner.
Accusations of child abuse or neglect can tear your family apart. If your child has been taken away from you or you are under a DCF investigation, it is important to obtain an experienced juvenile attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights and give you the best chance to keep your family together.
If DCF has evidence of child abuse and/or neglect, they will undergo an investigation of you and your family. They may visit your home, interview you and your child, and if they substantiate the claims against you, they can take your child away from you.
It is important to know though, that you do have a voice in this process, If DCF substantiates that you committed child abuse or neglect, it must afford you the opportunity to request an administrative hearing, at which you can challenge their findings. After your request and before the hearing, a DCF staff member will review the substantiation, and this review will result in either DCF reversing their decision and dropping the allegations, or upholding their decision and proceeding to a hearing. If your case goes to a hearing, it is there that you will have your opportunity to present your side of the story and defend yourself against the abuse and/or neglect allegations.
At McConnell Family Law Group, our experienced juvenile law attorneys will do all that is possible to get the allegations against you dropped prior to a hearing, or if necessary, help you to best defend yourself at a hearing.
If your child is under 18 years of age and accused of committing a crime, he or she will likely be arrested and summoned to appear in the Connecticut juvenile court where the alleged crime took place. Although the Connecticut juvenile court system is rehabilitative in nature and often more lenient on defendants than its adult counterpart, it can be a more onerous process for child defendants and their families, as there is often more supervision, probation, monitoring, and restrictions involved. To obtain the best possible outcome for your child, it is recommended that you obtain qualified legal counsel to represent your child in this process.
Judicial v. Non-Judicial Disposition
After your child is arrested and a court date is set, the juvenile court will review your child’s case and assign it to either a “non-judicial” or “judicial” procedural track. Less serious offenses are designated as “non-judicial” and are removed from the courtroom process and turned over to a juvenile probation officer, who will work with your child and family, monitor the case, and order an appropriate plan for rehabilitation, such as community service, counseling, drug testing and/or other requirements such as following parents’ rules and curfews, consistent attendance at school, getting good grades, etc.
“Judicial” designations are for more serious offenses and usually arise when: a child has a prior record of juvenile charges; a child is charged with a felony; the charges against the child involve the sale or possession of certain drugs or firearms; or the child has not been compliant with the probation officer’s recommendations in a non-judicial disposition.
When a case is determined to be a “judicial” one, the case proceeds in a similar fashion to an adult criminal case but unlike adult criminal court, the juvenile courtroom is closed to the public and all cases are strictly confidential. Further, police and court records are sealed and are not available for public review.
In a “judicial” matter, a Superior Court judge presides over the case, and the case begins with the child’s attorney and the prosecutor entering into plea discussions. If an agreement ultimately cannot be reached, then the matter proceeds to a trial. At this point especially, it is important that you have a qualified juvenile attorney to best defend your child and protect his or her interests.
At McConnell Family Law, we have substantial knowledge and experience in delinquency matters throughout Connecticut, whether “judicial” or “non-judicial”, and can provide the guidance and expertise needed to give you the peace of mind that your child’s best interests are being taken care of and protected.
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