Hiring a Juvenile Defense Lawyer in St. Louis

For a parent, one of the most jarring experiences is having your child face criminal charges. Not only are you concerned about the wellbeing of your child, and whether or not they will be placed in juvenile detention or a general population jail, but you also run the risk of paying exorbitant legal fees.

As of March 2018, any child 17 years of age or older can — and will likely be — be prosecuted as an adult in Missouri, if the prosecution deems it appropriate. Although the law is set to change in 2021, where raising the minimum age to be tried as adult to 18 years of age, this likely will not change your child’s present situation.

We all make mistakes in our youth, and we come to learn that our actions — for better or worse — come with their own set of consequences. When a teenager or juvenile is accused of a criminal act, it can be a terrifying experience for both parents and children alike. That is why it is important to hire a juvenile defense lawyer experienced in working with children and young adults.

Why You Really Do Need a Juvenile Defense Lawyer

One of the questions we most often receive at Byrnes Law Firm is, “Do I really need a juvenile defense lawyer?” St. Louis, St. Louis County, and St. Charles are unique in that they have different processes for handling cases involving minors. Juvenile courts and family courts come with their own set of terms, legal definitions, and practices. While it is true you can hire any defense attorney to handle your child’s case, it is typically favorable to work with a juvenile defense lawyer accustomed to these courts’ unique processes, practices, and politics.

Bill Byrnes of Byrnes Law Firm has worked with a number of juvenile clients over the years. If your child is currently in police custody, or has been recently charged with a criminal or status offense, it is important to seek the advice and representation of an attorney as soon as possible. The more time that lapses, the

Handling Status Offenses

Byrnes Law Firm handles juvenile cases in St. Charles County and St. Louis County. In St. Charles County, “status offenses” such as running away from home or skipping school are handled by the 11th Judicial Circuit Court’s Juvenile Division, whereas the Family Court in St. Louis County holds jurisdiction over matters related to status offenses involving minors.  

12-Year-Olds Can Be Charged as Adults in Missouri

One aspect of Missouri’s juvenile criminal code is that children as young as years in age can be tried and prosecuted as adults for certain felony offenses, such as:

  • Drugcharges
  • Theft /shoplifting
  • Assault
  • Weapons offenses
  • Sex offenses

We Can Help Defend Your Child and Secure Their Future

As many parents who have suffered through having their child enter Missouri’s juvenile delinquency programs will tell you, by the time they exit the system, they are more prone to criminality before entering the system since they are exposed to the advice and influence of their peers. At Byrnes Law Firm, we are committed to keeping juveniles out of Missouri’s criminal justice system. Not only are these programs largely ineffective in rehabilitating youths, but too often they unintentionally promote increased criminal behavior. We believe that a child’s lapse in judgement should not cause them to be subjected to the harsh realities of the state’s criminal justice system.

If your child is convicted of a felony or misdemeanor offense, they may be expected to:

  • Pay back restitution
  • Fulfill community service
  • Under drug and/or alcohol treatment
  • Serve time in a state detention facility
  • Register as a sex offender (when applicable)

There is also the psychological aspect of a child who has bee charged with a crime. They may start to view himself or herself as being a “bad kid” and therefore start associating with persons with similar mindsets. This only increases behavioral disorders and a general disregard for laws and authority.

How We Represent Children in Court

To appropriately defend your child in court, we must demonstrate that they feel remorseful for their actions, and thereby seek to have the charges dropped or greatly reduced.

Be proactive in defending the charges against your child — contact Byrnes Law Firm to discuss the details of your case with Bill Byrnes, a juvenile defense attorney with a proven track record of looking out for Missouri kids and families.