Back in the day, there was basically a “boys will be boys” presumption in the Juvenile Justice Code. But that’s no longer the case.
Any juvenile criminal matter, especially if it is a crime of moral turpitude, usually has a serious impact. Common juvenile CMTs include auto theft, shoplifting, and property defacement (tagging). These offenses rarely have immigration consequences, but they have a considerable adverse impact in other areas. CMT convictions basically eliminate credibility in any court proceeding, whether the person is a party or a witness. CMTs also make it hard to find a job, obtain student aid, or get into a good school.
Furthermore, contrary to popular myth, McLeod County courts do not automatically seal or expunge juvenile records after the defendants turn 18. These records remain visible forever, unless lawyers in Hutchinson, MN take action to remove them.
Assessing the Case
The best way to avoid the aforementioned consequences is to fight the charges in court. Some frequent defenses to the charges mentioned above are discussed below. Defenses like these make it easier for lawyers in Hutchinson, MN to either get the charges thrown out of court or negotiate a successful resolution.
Many juveniles steal vehicles to go “joyriding,” others steal cars to fulfill gang initiation requirements, and still other steal cars simply to prove to themselves, or to others, that they are capable of doing so. All these scenarios make it difficult for McLeod County prosecutors to establish all the elements of a Section 609.52 theft offense.
Specifically, the law states the defendant must have the intent to “deprive the owner permanently of possession of the property.” If the juvenile took the car and abandoned it a short while later, that’s clear evidence of intent to temporarily deprive the owner of possession, as opposed to permanently deprive the owner of possession.
Additionally, in criminal court, lawyers in Hutchinson, MN do not have to prove anything. They simply must create reasonable doubt.
Intent could be an issue in these offenses as well. As long as the defendant did not leave the store with the item, lawyers in Hutchinson, MN can argue that the defendant intended to pay for the item. Since store detectives often jump the gun and detain children inside the store, this defense is often available.
These cases sometimes have pleading problems as well. Typically, the charging documents must name the property owner. In this context, an “owner” is anyone with a superior right of possession. So, the charging documents normally name the store detective, since that’s the person police officers interface with then they arrive.
But by the time the case goes to court, this person has normally relocated out of the jurisdiction, and possibly even out of the state. So, in most cases, prosecutors must dismiss the existing complaint and start over with another one. They rarely want to go to that kind of trouble in shoplifting cases.
These cases often have similar pleading problems with regard to the property owner. But in property defacement cases, the issue may be a disinterested owner, as opposed to an absent owner.
Typically, these cases do not go to trial for many, many months. By that time, the owner has cleaned the paint off the wall, repaired the key mark on the car door, or whatever the problem was. At that point, they would rather forget about the matter. Witnesses do not have the right to “drop” criminal charges, but they can make their wishes clear to prosecutors.
Property defacement cases may have proof issues as well. Unless a witness catches the defendant in flagrante delicto (red-handed), these cases are difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
How do Lawyers in Hutchinson, MN Resolve Juvenile Cases?
Defenses like these are important, because it is very difficult to seal juvenile records in Minnesota. If a defense exists, McLeod County prosecutors are much more willing to consider pretrial diversion or deferred adjudication, even if the offense is rather serious or the juvenile has a criminal record.
Pretrial diversion programs usually involve paying restitution (if any), attending one or more self-improvement classes, and performing community service. If the defendant completes all program requirements, prosecutors dismiss the charges.
Deferred adjudication is a bit like regular probation. The defendant pleads guilty and receives community supervision. If the defendant successfully completes probation, the judge dismisses the case.
In both these scenarios, the arrest record remains. If the matter comes up later, such as during a job application process, an explanation like “I hired a lawyer and the lawyer took care of it” usually ends the inquiry.
Count on Experienced Attorneys
A juvenile criminal arrest is a serious matter, but it is not the end of the world. For a free consultation with experienced lawyers in Hutchinson, MN, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in McLeod County and nearby jurisdictions.