Under Vermont law a juvenile is anyone under the age of 18. There are two basic ways that juveniles become involved in court proceedings. Children between the ages of 16 and 18 who engage in criminal conduct may be charged in Criminal Court or in Juvenile Court. If the child is charged in Criminal Court, the case can be transferred to Juvenile Court under certain circumstances. Crimes committed by children under 16 are almost uniformly brought in Juvenile Court. Juvenile Court charges do not result in a criminal conviction. Instead, the focus is on the child and his or her need for rehabilitation, supervision, and treatment. Also, the proceedings are confidential and not public and the children in these cases are entitled to an attorney.
The other way juveniles get involved in the court system is if there are allegations of abuse or neglect against their caregivers, usually the parents. Abused children are those who are suffering from physical or emotional abuse. Neglected children are those whose caregivers have failed to properly care for them. Ultimately, the court has the authority to terminate parental rights and free a child for adoption if the court finds this is in the child’s best interests. These court proceedings are also confidential and not public and the children and the caregivers are entitled to have an attorney.
If you or someone in your care needs representation for a legal matter in one of these areas, please contact us and we will determine how we may be able to help you. We have deep experience representing both children and parents in these cases.