Juveniles who commit crimes in Utah may not go directly to jail or a juvenile detention center in all cases, but for serious crimes that is certainly a possibility. The most common infractions committed by juveniles are theft, shoplifting, trespassing, destruction of property, possession of alcohol or marijuana and violating curfew. While none of these are as serious as, say, rape or murder, the juvenile justice system does not take these crimes lightly, especially for repeat offenders.
The goal of the Utah juvenile justice system is not to lock up children unless totally necessary, which is why there are many dispositions available for the court to choose from to deal with a minor who pleads guilty or is convicted of a juvenile offense. Among the most common dispositions, or punishments, are community service and fines, and often a combination of both. The court may require minors to perform community service and abide by other requirements similar to adult probation, and if they are successful they may have their charges dismissed, but if they fail to do so, the consequences become more severe.
Depending on the crime, the court may also require the juvenile to make restitution to any victims. For example, a minor accused of breaking and entering may have to repay the victim for the cost of any stolen items, as well as any damage caused during the incident. Making restitution is considered an important part of the minor’s taking responsibility for his or her actions, which the court looks for when dealing with juvenile offenders.
With the right approach, many juvenile cases can be dealt with without a hearing or trial, allowing the juvenile to make amends and get on with his or her life. But the most important thing a minor accused of a crime can do is take the situation seriously and take the proper steps to get ahead, which may start with considering calling an experienced Utah defense attorney.