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Juvenile Defense Lawyers

Lawyer Legion’s Juvenile Defense Information Center includes a directory of criminal defense attorneys focused on defending juveniles. You can use our attorney directory to find juvenile defense attorneys by state, city, or zip code.

The profiles have information on the attorney's membership and leadership in legal organizations related to juvenile justice, speaking engagements at quality CLE seminars, and participation in specialty certification programs. 

Lawyer Legion’s Juvenile Defense Information Center provides comprehensive resources such as federal and state laws, common questions and answers, and much more. 


Lawyer Legion Juvenile Defense Information Center

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Juvenile Defense Lawyers

Best Juvenile Defense Attorneys in the United States

James Gary Sullivan
James Sullivan and Associates
Houston, TX
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William B Connolly
Connolly & Shireman LLP
Houston, TX
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Christopher Neal Allen
Law Office of Chris Allen
Conroe, TX
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Jacqueline Goodman
Law Offices of Jacqueline Goodman
Fullerton, CA
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Brian Joslyn
Joslyn Law Firm
Columbus, OH
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V Iyer
Iyer Law Office, LLC
Englewood, CO
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Tad A Nelson
The Law Offices of Tad Nelson & Associates
Houston, TX
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Kevin Bennett
The Law Office of Kevin Bennett
Austin, TX
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Melinda Morris
Criminal Defense Lawyer
St. Petersburg, FL
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More Noteworthy Juvenile Defense Attorneys

Juvenile Defense Legal Resources

Helpful Videos

Joslyn Law Firm

Attorney Matt Horak of Horak Law discusses defending the accused

Juvenile Defense Bar Associations and Legal Organizations

National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) - The NJDC is a nonprofit that supports criminal defense attorneys and public defenders who represent children in juvenile court. The National Juvenile Defender Center's mission is to “promote justice for all children by ensuring excellence in juvenile defense.” The organization advocates for juvenile justice reform across the United States. Members of the organization are provided with a platform to exchange information and build partnerships.

Specialty Certifications in Juvenile Defense

Juvenile Delinquency Law - Attorneys who earn certification as a specialist in juvenile delinquency law must meet certain standards for substantial involvement, specific task requirements, peer review, examination, and completion of continuing legal education requirements. Juvenile delinquency law is generally considered to be a subset of the larger category of criminal law. Also, it is known as juvenile justice, juvenile defense, or prosecution in juvenile court.
Juvenile Law - Learn more about how attorneys can become Board Certification in Juvenile Law in Florida. The minimum standards for juvenile law certification are explained in Rule 6-29.3. Task requirements include handling of at least 10 fully adjudicated trials or appellate proceedings arising from petitions for dependency, termination of parental rights, or delinquency, of which occurred during the five years immediately preceding application.
Juvenile Law - Since 2001, the Texas Board of Legal Specialization (TBLS) has been certifying attorneys as a specialist in juvenile law. For purposes of the board certification program, the term "juvenile law" is defined to include judicial and administrative proceedings for individuals under 17 years of age that are arrested or have been detained in a criminal matter.

United States Government and Court Resources

Supreme Court of the United States

Supreme Court of the United States - The Judiciary Act of 1789, Article III of the Constitution allowed for the establishment of the Supreme Court. Additionally, the United States Supreme Court is the highest in the Nation. It has jurisdiction over all state and federal cases that involve a violation of Constitutional or Federal laws. The court has the power of judicial review and is the interpreter of the Constitution. Furthermore, the court consist of the Chief Justice of the United States and associate justices.

United States Courts

United States Courts - Article III of the Constitution helped create the United States Courts. Congress also created several legislative courts, such as the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, U.S. Tax Court, and U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. Federal courts hear cases in which the United States is an interested party, bankruptcy cases, disputes between states, maritime law, and cases involving the violation of federal or constitutional laws. Additionally, the courts help decide what happened, what should be done about the situation, if a person committed the crime, and what punishment to give to the persons.

Federal Law Enforcement Agencies

ATF - Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives - The ATF is a federal law enforcement agency within the U.S. Department of Justice. The organization is tasked with investigating and preventing federal criminal offenses involving the illegal use, possession, and manufacturing of firearms and explosives; the illegal trafficking of alcohol and tobacco products; and acts of bombing, arson, and terrorism. Also, the agency regulates the sale, possession, and transportation of firearms and explosives in interstate commerce through licensing. Furthermore, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives partners with state and local law enforcement agencies to carry out tasks.

ATF - Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
99 New York Avenue NE,
Washington, 20226
DEA - Drug Enforcement Administration - The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was founded in 1973. It is a U.S. federal law enforcement agency under the Department of Justice. Moreover, the agency enforces the Controlled Substances Act and is tasked with preventing illicit drug trafficking, growing, manufacturing, and distribution within the United States; and to provide support to non-enforcement programs to reduce the availability of unlawful drugs in the domestic and international market. Some of the primary responsibilities of the DEA include coordinating and cooperating with federal, state, and local law enforcement in interstate and international investigations; collaborating with the United Nations and other organizations to provide support to international drug control programs, and much more.

DEA - Drug Enforcement Administration
800 K Street, N.W,
Washington, 20001
DOJ - Department of Justice - On July 1, 1870, the Department of Justice (DOJ) was established. The department is tasked with handling all criminal prosecutions and civil lawsuits in which the United States has an interest. The 1870 Act is the foundation for the DOJ's authority because the Act created the Solicitor General. Nevertheless, the Department of Justice has gone through changes over the years such as additional roles that were created, for instance, the Deputy Attorney General. The additional offices, divisions, and other various components have assisted in making the Department of Justice (DOJ) into a productive law office which continues to be an enforcer of federal laws.

DOJ - Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW,
Washington, 20530
FBI - Federal Bureau of Investigation - Protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution is the mission of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). They accomplish their tasks by working with other law enforcement and agents at the state, local, and international level to protect the United States from cyber attacks, terrorism, and other criminal threats. July 26, 1908, is considered to be the official date of the FBI because it was the first mission they had received - to conduct investigations on behalf of the Department of Justice (DOJ).

FBI - Federal Bureau of Investigation
935 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest,
Washington, 20530

Overview of U.S. Criminal Law

Juvenile Delinquency Laws in the United States

The term "juvenile justice" refers to the prosecution and defense of children or adolescents under the age of 18 for delinquent acts in juvenile court. Most states have set the age of criminal culpability at 18 years old. A smaller number of states have set the age of criminal culpability at 17 years old. Juvenile acts are defined as acts that would otherwise be a crime except for the fact that the act is committed by someone under the age of criminal culpability.

Most states have enacted a juvenile code that addresses the prosecution of these cases in juvenile court, including the procedures to be used and the potential sanctions that can be imposed by the court. Juvenile courts are designed to be more focused on rehabilitation while adult courts are designed to be focused more on punishment. For first offenses involving minor crimes, juveniles are typically offered a diversion programs that allow the charges to be dropped or dismissed after a period of supervision.

More serious offenses or repeat violation can lead to probation or secure detention. For the most serious crimes, repeat offenders, or children that are close to being 18 years old, most states have a mechanism to transfer the prosecution to state court so that the juvenile can be tried as an adult.

Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Act

The Juvenile Delinquency Prevention and Control Act was passed by Congress in 1968. It was revised in 1972 and renamed the Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Act. The act was intended to help states and local communities provide preventative services to young people in danger of becoming delinquent, to help training professionals provide such services, and to supply technical assistance in the field. The federal legislation helped set standards for the administration of juvenile justice across the various states.

Cases heard in Juvenile Court

Not all juvenile delinquency cases are heard in juvenile courts. There are three different types of cases and different court procedures usually apply to all three different types of juvenile cases. 

o   Cases involving a violation that applies only to minor such as running away, skipping school, etc.

o   Juvenile dependency cases, which involve minors that are abused and/or neglected by their parent and/or guardians.

o   Juvenile delinquency cases involve minors that have committed a crime that would otherwise be tried in criminal court if the individual was an adult. 

Procedure in a Juvenile Court Case

Juveniles do not have the same constitutional rights as adults do during proceedings. For instance, juveniles have the right to an attorney at an adjudicatory hearing, however, the hearings are heard by judged because the offender does not have the right to a public trial or bail.

When a juvenile is suspected of violating a law, judges’ prosecutors, and other officials have the option of making informal or formal proceedings. An informal proceeding can include having to pay a fine and attending counseling. A formal proceeding would entail that the youthful offender has been formally charged. Procedures for juvenile delinquency cases vary from state to state.

Types of Juvenile Waivers

Waivers are a procedure which transfers juvenile cases to adult court. Juvenile cases that qualify for “waiver” are usually severe offenses such as rape or murder. Additionally, the waiver different types of waivers in juvenile court are discretionary, presumptive, and mandatory. 

o   Discretionary Waiver – There are different criteria to be able to transfer a case, in some states it must be in the best interest of the youth and the public. Additionally, a discretionary waiver entails that the judge in the juvenile court has some say whether the case gets transfer. 

o   Presumptive Waiver – The youthful offender is facing charges that fall under specific categories; therefore, it is presumed that a transfer to criminal court is appropriate. In some states, the defendant must demonstrate clear and convincing evidence that a presumptive waiver is not appropriate for the offense. 

o   Mandatory Waiver – There are 14 states whose statutes provide for a mandatory waiver depending if the cases meet certain criteria such as age and particular offense. 

Frequently Asked Questions & Answers

What is a Juvenile criminal?

Per 18 U.S.C. §5031 a “juvenile” is a person who is under eighteen (18) years of age. The term “juvenile delinquency” refers to the violation of criminal laws committed by a person prior to his or her eighteenth birthday. 

How to find a Juvenile Justice Defense Attorney?

Many criminal defense attorneys primarily take cases in adult court and only occasionally take cases in juvenile court. Because of the differences between juvenile court and adult court, it often helps to find an attorney that focuses a signification portion of his or her practice in juvenile court.

At Lawyer Legion we created our directory of criminal defense lawyers to help the public find a qualified attorney in a variety of practice areas such juvenile justice or juvenile defense. We organize attorneys according to the focus of their legal practice, their membership and leadership in organizations related to criminal defense, and other objective criteria.

What does a Juvenile Justice Defense Attorney do?

The juvenile defense attorney represents the client during proceedings, provides legal options, prepare documents, and much more. It is important to hire a juvenile defense attorney who is experienced in representing minors in the juvenile court system. Protecting your children’s rights and future is always the first priority, when a child is arrested, it is vital to retain an attorney as soon as possible. A juvenile defense attorney advocate for the client’s best interested as it is determined by the client’s guardians, the prosecutor, counsel, and/or the judge. 

What are the benefits of having a lawyer in Juvenile Court?

Having a qualified and skilled attorney who specializes in juvenile cases is always helpful for minors facing charges. Having effective assistance from legal counsel can affect a case’s outcome and retaining an attorney as soon as possible can help increase your chances of having a favorable outcome. Below are some ways that an having an attorney representing your child during juvenile court can be helpful:

o   An attorney can help have the charges reduced or dismissed preventing the minor from having to go to jail and/or having a criminal record

o   The attorney can help make sure that the juvenile is not tried as an adult 

o   The lawyer can explain the process, options, and provide representation

o   An experienced lawyer can arrange for a defendant’s release from pre-adjudication detention

When do cases go to Juvenile Court?

When a law enforcement refers a case to juvenile court, the prosecutor or probation officer takes the case. The juvenile court intake officer or prosecutor can petition the case (filing formal charges). When deciding the prosecutor or juvenile court intake officer consider multiple factors such as:

o   The age of the defendant

o   If the defendant has any prior record

o   The strength of the evidence in the case

o   The severity of the offense

o   The defendant’s gender

How do police handle juveniles?

Law enforcements deal with juveniles differently in every state. An officer can be in multiple situations that can lead to a juvenile case and there are different actions that officer can take. 

Some ways that a juvenile might come into contact with law enforcement include but are not limited to:

o   An officer comes into contact with a juvenile because he or she was allegedly violating a criminal statute 

o   A school official or a parent calls the police 

o   The minor is being arrested by a law enforcement officer

Below are some ways that law enforcements may decide to deal with a juvenile:

o   Counseled and Released - The officer detains the minor, issues a warning, and then releases the minor

o   Detaining a Minor – The officer can detain a minor until legal guardians and/or parents claim the juvenile. Additionally, the officer releases the juvenile to the custody of the guardians and/or parents

o   Referring the case to juvenile court – The officer can place the juvenile in custody and refer the case to juvenile court

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