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Washington Juvenile Laws

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Each state handles those under 18, or juveniles, who break the law differently. Judges may choose from different punishments in juvenile court—ranging from verbal warnings to being placed in juvenile detention.

Unfortunately for convicted youths, their juvenile court records remain with them for life, potentially hindering them when it comes to future employment, education, and other opportunities. On the other hand, juveniles have the opportunity to have their criminal record sealed or expunged, allowing them to deny they were ever arrested in the future.

The goal of the Washington juvenile justice system is not to punish but to treat and rehabilitate juvenile offenders. While juveniles can be punished with some form of incarceration, they have more options than adults convicted of crimes.

Judges can punish juveniles with any of the following:

  • Home confinement—remaining at home other than for work, school, counseling, etc.
  • Placement with adult other than parent—requiring living with a relative or foster home
  • Juvenile hall/detention—sending to facilities for short-terms stays
  • Probation—usually following a stay in juvenile hall
  • Secured juvenile facilities—staying at "camps" for longer stays, up to several years
  • Adult jail—in rare instances judges can send youths to county jail or state prison

The Juvenile Justice System allows police, probation officers, and the Prosecuting Attorney's Office to have wide discretion concerning how to handle juvenile offenders. Upon arrest, police can choose to release a youth to their parents or take them to juvenile hall.

My Child was arrested? What do I do?

Minors charged with crimes should obtain representation from an Edmonds criminal defense attorney to handle proceedings in juvenile court. An attorney can push to have the court enter the youth into a diversion program, usually a period of probation, at the end of which the charges will be dropped.

Youths are not entitled to a jury trial; rather, juvenile court allows for an adjudication in front of a judge. If your child is arrested, you should consult with a juvenile crime attorney who can ask the court to seal and vacate the conviction.

My name is Jim Johanson and I have over 35 years of experience defending those charged with crimes. I am a qualified Edmonds criminal defense lawyer who can work to avoid a conviction and provide you with constant counsel and support, so call my office today to learn what I can do for you.

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