Highly Experienced Madison Juvenile Court Attorneys
Criminal charges can affect a child’s life for many, many years to come. A juvenile record is not automatically expunged when the child turns eighteen. The juvenile court does not even automatically lose jurisdiction over the child when he or she becomes an adult. A person with a juvenile conviction can find it more difficult to apply to schools, secure a job, find housing, or even access credit. These are serious obstacles for a young person to face when he or she is just entering adulthood.
An experienced juvenile court attorney can help ensure a fair resolution of your child’s criminal case while protecting their important constitutional rights. This can help them continue to build a future after the case is over. This is an important investment in their future. At the Joslyn Law Firm, we have helped many families successfully resolve criminal cases against juvenile defendants. We have helped mitigate the collateral consequences of a juvenile conviction in order to give teen defendants the best possible chances of success as they enter adulthood. Our dedicated staff works together to deliver superior legal results and customer service. We have extensive experience in the Madison Juvenile Court, and we will help guide your family through every step of the juvenile case process.
We have prepared the following Court Information Center to answer some of the most common questions our attorneys receive about the Madison Juvenile Court. We cannot answer all your questions here, and this guide also cannot answer questions specific to your child’s particular circumstances, so it is important to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced Madison Juvenile Court defense attorneys. Call (614) 444-1900 or reach out online to schedule your free consultation. We have helped families throughout Madison County successfully navigate their way through Juvenile Court proceedings.
Madison Juvenile Court Information Center
- Madison Juvenile Court Overview and Information
- Common Criminal Charges Against Juvenile Defendants
- Will My Child Go to Jail?
- Potential Penalties for Criminal Charges in the Madison Juvenile Court
- Diversion For Criminal Charges
- Criminal Case Court Process in the Madison Juvenile Court
- OVI/DUI Charge Process in the Madison Juvenile Court
- Q&A for Madison Juvenile Court Criminal Charges
- Madison Juvenile Court Personnel
- Madison Community Resources for Juveniles and Their Families
- Madison Law Enforcement
- Madison Juvenile Court Location and Contact Information
Madison Juvenile Court Overview and Information
The Madison Juvenile Court hears many different types of matters involving minor children within Madison County boundaries. These include:
- Dependency cases involving children who are unruly, abused, neglected or otherwise dependant upon the state for services or protection
- Paternity cases (including child support, custody, and visitation issues)
- Traffic cases involving drivers under the age of eighteen
- Delinquency cases involving a misdemeanor or felony offense committed within county limits by a defendant under the age of eighteen
Because these cases involve minor children, case information is not available to the public. Only authorized parties – such as the child’s parent or attorney of record – may access case information.
A criminal case against a minor defendant often begins with a police investigation or officers witnessing a suspected crime. In some cases, such as traffic tickets, the officer’s report serves as a complaint that is filed with the court. This report will also summon the minor to appear in court at a particular date and time. In more serious cases, the police report is forwarded to the county prosecutor’s office to make decisions about whether to charge the defendant, and if so, which charges to file. The juvenile division of the Madison County Prosecutor’s Office handles criminal cases in the Madison Juvenile Court.
Once charges are filed – whether by a prosecutor or through a police report filed with the court – the juvenile defendant will be summoned to court. It is absolutely critical that you not ignore any summons to court. This could result in a warrant being issued for the arrest of your child. It could also result in police coming to the child’s home or school, which can be a terribly traumatic situation for a child. By responding to the summons, you can deal with the charges against your child more efficiently. You also show the judge that you are taking the case seriously and working together as a family to help your child get back on the right path.
Common Criminal Charges Against Juvenile Defendants
There are several misdemeanors that are commonly associated with young defendants, such as:
- Petty theft or shoplifting
- Underage drinking
- Disorderly conduct
- School discipline matters
- Curfew violations
- Tobacco and vaping offenses
Of course, not all juvenile cases involve misdemeanors. Ohio law allows juveniles to be charged with almost any felony an adult could. Some felonies, such as sexual conduct with a minor, specifically require the defendant to be over the age of eighteen, but other than this, felonies can generally apply to minor defendants.
Juveniles can also be charged with traffic offenses and local ordinance violations in the Madison County Juvenile Court. It is important to understand the collateral consequences of these cases. Though they might seem insignificant, a conviction or driving violation can affect a teen for years to come. Points can stay on a driver’s license, and suspended or revoked driving privileges are not automatically reinstated at the age of eighteen.
Regardless of whether your child has been charged with a traffic violation, local ordinance violation, misdemeanor, felony, or even a federal crime, it is important to get legal advice from an experienced juvenile defense attorney. The investment of attorney’s fees can mitigate the consequences of a criminal charge against your child and help him or her well into adulthood.
Will My Child Go to Jail?
Before we discuss the range of penalties possible for juveniles in Madison Juvenile Court, we’ll address the primary concern on the minds of many parents – is it possible that your child might be incarcerated? No parent wants to think of their child being locked up, as you likely want to be in charge of their discipline and well-being, though some minors are held in detention for certain criminal offenses. This is why it is absolutely crucial that you have the right defense representation as soon as you learn your child has been accused of a crime.
Potential Penalties for Criminal Charges in the Madison Juvenile Court
You might be surprised to learn that the consequences of a juvenile conviction do not automatically end when the defendant turns eighteen years old. So long as the crime occurred and the defendant is apprehended before he or she turns eighteen, the juvenile court can retain jurisdiction until the defendant’s twenty-first birthday. This means the defendant can be ordered to pay fines, pass drug or alcohol tests, and perform community service after the age of eighteen. Juvenile defendants can even be kept in the custody of the Department of Youth Services until the age of twenty-one.
While incarceration is possible, it is not the only consequence of a juvenile conviction. A conviction will also remain on the child’s criminal record and can be found by schools, prospective employers, professional licensing agencies, landlords, and even creditors. Some juvenile convictions can be sealed (meaning they are expunged, and not made part of the juvenile’s public criminal record). Some minor offenses can be sealed automatically, but others require the defendant to petition the court and prove that he or she is eligible to have a record sealed. This can be a costly and time-intensive process. Some serious offenses can never be expunged from a juvenile’s criminal record. This is why it is so important to get reliable legal advice and ensure the underlying case is handled properly.
It is also important to understand that a juvenile can be charged as an adult. The Ohio Revised Code refers to this as “serious youthful offender disposition.” In serious youthful offender (SYO) cases, a juvenile can receive the same sentence as an adult would for committing the same crime. The only exceptions are the death penalty or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole, which the United States Supreme Court has determined to be unconstitutional sentences for juvenile defendants to receive. Whether your child will be charged as an adult depends upon (1) how old he or she was at the time the crime was committed, and (2) the severity of the offense.
So what can the Juvenile Court order as part of your child’s sentence? In general, the Juvenile Court has more options available in sentencing than the adult courts do. This is because the focus of juvenile criminal cases is rehabilitation. Unlike adult cases, in which punishment is the primary concern, the Juvenile Court is tasked with getting defendants back to school and obeying the law. Because of this, Ohio law grants juvenile court judges a wide array of options in crafting appropriate sentences for juvenile defendants. The court can:
- Commit a juvenile defendant to the temporary custody of any school, camp, institution, or other facility operated for the care of delinquent children.
- Place the child in a detention facility or district detention facility operated under section 41 of the Revised Code for up to ninety days.
- Place the child on community control under any sanctions, services, and conditions that the court prescribes. (This is the equivalent of adult probation.)
- Order a period of community service of up to five hundred hours for an act that would be a felony or a misdemeanor of the first degree if committed by an adult, up to two hundred hours for an act that would be a misdemeanor of the second, third, or fourth degree if committed by an adult, or up to thirty hours for an act that would be a minor misdemeanor if committed by an adult.
- Order a period of drug and alcohol use monitoring.
- Order participation in an alcohol or drug assessment or counseling, or a period in an alcohol or drug treatment program with a level of security for the child as determined necessary by the court.
- Order curfew restrictions (which can include daytime and nighttime restrictions).
- Order a period of house arrest without electronic monitoring or continuous alcohol monitoring.
- Order the suspension of the driver’s license, probationary driver’s license, or temporary instruction permit issued to the child.
- Commit the child to the custody of the court.
- Require the child to not be absent without legitimate excuse from the public school the child is supposed to attend for thirty or more consecutive hours, forty-two or more hours in one school month, or seventy-two or more hours in a school year.
As you can see, some of these conditions are far more restrictive than an adult defendant would face. It is important to consult with your attorney about the appropriate sentence for your child. In some cases, these alternatives can keep a child out of state custody.
Diversion for Criminal Charges
The Juvenile Court has many alternative options before sentencing, as well. As part of the goal of rehabilitating juvenile defendants, prosecutors and judges are often willing to work with them on a diversion program. A diversion program is an agreement that keeps criminal charges off a defendant’s record. The defendant agrees to meet certain conditions specific to the offense (for example, passing drug tests or performing community service) for a period of time. Once the program has been successfully completed, the prosecutor agrees to dismiss the charges against the defendant. This leaves the defendant with no conviction on his or her record, while the prosecutor is assured that the defendant is working toward a crime-free life.
Diversion programs are also available to adult defendants. They tend to be used more liberally with juvenile defendants, however, in order to give these young people a better chance at a fresh start in adulthood. Consult with an experienced Madison Juvenile Court defense attorney to see if your teen might be eligible for a pretrial diversion program. If not, there are still many other options that can be used to mitigate the consequences of a juvenile conviction on a defendant’s record.
Criminal Case Process in the Madison Juvenile Court
Juveniles have many of the same constitutional rights as adults do, and criminal cases proceed very similarly through the adult criminal court and the juvenile criminal court. Here is a basic outline of how your child’s case will proceed:
A complaint is filed
In traffic cases and minor misdemeanors, the officer’s ticket can serve as a complaint. With more serious charges, a prosecutor must file a complaint directly with the court. In the most serious cases, the prosecutor can take the case to a grand jury to seek an indictment against a juvenile offender. An indictment is a jury’s finding that there is probable cause to file criminal charges against a specific defendant. It is not a conviction. Prosecutors seek an indictment in cases where serious charges are likely to be challenged by a defense attorney. Because an indictment relies on a jury’s findings, and not just a prosecutor’s determination of probable cause, they are more difficult for a defense attorney to challenge. Once a complaint is filed, a warrant can be issued for your child’s arrest. This usually happens only with very serious charges. More often, your child will receive a summons to appear in the juvenile court to answer the charges against him (or her).
Your child will have an initial appearance before a judge
If your child is arrested, he or she has the right to appear before a judge within relatively short order. This usually occurs within twenty-four hours (though it can take longer on weekends or holidays). If your child receives a summons, it will state the date and time of the initial appearance. Your child will be entitled to a formal reading of the charges that have been filed. This is known as an arraignment. Your child will also have the right to contest any release conditions that are being requested by the prosecutor. At the end of the initial appearance, the court will set the date and time of your next court appearance.
The attorneys will exchange lists of witnesses and evidence
After the initial appearance, the attorneys begin the process of formally disclosing their evidence and witnesses to one another. This is required by the constitution, state law, and local rules of procedure. These laws and rules prohibit one party from surprising the other with unexpected evidence at trial by requiring the formal exchange of this evidence before trial. This process is known as discovery.
In addition to being a formal requirement, the discovery process also helps each attorney learn the strengths and weaknesses of his or her case. This allows the attorney to honestly advise the defendant about whether or not to accept a plea deal. It is important to understand the risk of conviction your child could face at trial. It is also important to negotiate a fair plea deal – even when there is significant evidence against your child. An experienced juvenile defense attorney knows how to effectively assess a case and negotiate a plea deal during the discovery process.
If necessary, a trial will be held
If the attorneys cannot negotiate a fair plea deal, the case will go to trial. Most cases will not entitle your child to a trial by jury. Only Serious Youthful Offender cases, in which the juvenile defendant is being tried as an adult, result in a child having the right to a trial by jury. This is because SYO convictions can result in prison sentences. In all other cases, the juvenile defendant will have a “bench trial,” in which a judge determines whether the child is adjudicated guilty or not guilty. If your child is found guilty, the case will proceed to sentencing. If your child is found not guilty, the case is over, and your child is free to go.
Your attorney has the right to be heard by the court regarding sentencing. Often, the prosecutor is arguing for a stricter sentence than the defense feels is appropriate. Each side is given the chance to present arguments in favor of their own proposed sentence to the court. It is important to work with a juvenile defense attorney who understands which sentencing arguments are persuasive to Juvenile Court judges.
In some cases, you might have legal grounds for an appeal after your child’s conviction. In many cases, a juvenile has the right to expunge his or her record after the required length of time has passed. These and other matters have strict legal and procedural requirements. By consulting with an experienced juvenile defense attorney before you initiate these proceedings, you can save time and money, as well as increase your chances of successfully petitioning the court for an appeal or sealing a juvenile court record.
OVI Charge Process in the Madison Juvenile Court
Minors can be charged with drunk driving, just as adults can. It is even easier for a juvenile to be guilty of drunk driving than an adult because the prohibited blood alcohol concentrations are much lower than those for adults. Section 4511.19(B) of the Ohio Revised Code prohibits anyone under the age of twenty-one from operating a motor vehicle if any of the following apply:
- The person has a concentration of at least two-hundredths of one percent (.02) by weight per unit volume of alcohol in the person’s whole blood.
(2) The person has a concentration of at least three-hundredths of one percent (.03) but less than ninety-six-thousandths of one percent (.96) by weight per unit volume of alcohol in the person’s blood serum or plasma.
(3) The person has a concentration of at least two-hundredths of one gram but less than eight-hundredths of one gram by weight of alcohol per two hundred ten liters of the person’s breath.
(4) The person has a concentration of at least twenty-eight one-thousandths of one gram but less than eleven-hundredths of one gram by weight of alcohol per one hundred milliliters of the person’s urine.
A minor can be charged with operating a motor vehicle while underage and impaired. This is sometimes referred to as a “baby DUI,” but the consequences are still serious. A juvenile can face jail time, fines, revocation of a driver’s license, and community service with Mothers Against Drunk Driving. A juvenile can also be charged with a traditional DUI offense if his or her blood alcohol concentration is high enough. It is important to work with a defense lawyer who understands the differences in OVI cases involving drivers under the age of eighteen.
Q&A for Madison Juvenile Court Criminal Charges
Do I really need a lawyer for minor juvenile charges?
As we have seen, the consequences of a juvenile conviction can be severe. Your child can be detained for years. A conviction can stay on his or her record well into adulthood. Driving privileges can be suspended or even revoked. It is important to consult with an experienced juvenile defense attorney about these consequences and your options for mitigating them.
Shouldn’t we just plead guilty if the prosecutor has a lot of evidence against my child?
The strength of the prosecutor’s case is only one factor in pleading guilty. First, some of the evidence against your child might not be admissible at all. There are specific legal grounds for challenging evidence, and only your own attorney can give you an honest assessment of the evidence against your child. Second, even if your child does intend to plead guilty, this should not be done until the prosecutor has offered a fair plea deal. Again, only your own attorney can give you an honest opinion about whether the prosecutor’s conditions are fair. The prosecutor’s job is not to protect your child’s legal rights. It is critical that you hire your own attorney to ensure that your child’s rights are being protected at all stages of the criminal case process.
When should I contact a lawyer about my child’s case?
You should contact a juvenile defense attorney as soon as you become aware of any criminal investigation against your child. The sooner an attorney is involved, the better he or she can protect your child’s legal rights. Early intervention will also give the lawyer the most possible options for satisfactorily resolving the case against your child. Once statements have been made to the police (by parents or the juvenile defendant), your lawyer might be limited in how the case can be negotiated. The earlier you can hire a defense attorney, the better your chances will be for a satisfactory resolution to your child’s criminal case.
Will my child go to jail?
The penalty for a juvenile conviction depends on many factors. The juvenile’s age and severity of the offense are the most important considerations, but other things (such as a strong family support system) are taken into account as well. Juveniles are often given more opportunities to resolve their cases without time in the custody of the Department of Youth Services due to the juvenile court’s focus on rehabilitation. If your attorney is able to present a strong case that your child has community support, parental involvement, and other indicators of success, your child is likely to face time in the custody of DYS. Of course, some crimes face mandatory commitment to DYS upon conviction. Consult with an attorney about your child’s particular circumstances to determine the best possible outcome of his or her case.
What if my child has been the victim of abuse or bullying?
Like the adult courts, juvenile courts take all circumstances into account when determining the appropriate sentence for a conviction. Prosecutors also consider factors like child abuse or school bullying when negotiating plea agreements. Juvenile judges and juvenile prosecutors understand that many crimes are the result of the defendant being victimized. If your child has been the victim of child abuse, bullying, online harassment, or other factors, make sure that your defense attorney knows about this. It is important to present this information to the court and the prosecutor in the right way. It is also important to show that, even though your child was a victim, you are getting help to overcome these issues and have a plan to prevent crimes and other behavior problems in the future.
Can school issues end up in the Juvenile Court?
Yes. The Ohio Revised Code has truancy statutes that require juveniles to attend school. Truancy cases can be referred to the Juvenile Court, and parents can also become involved in these cases. Behavior issues can also lead to criminal charges. This most often involves a law enforcement officer assigned to the school. Insubordinate children are sometimes charged with failure to obey an officer’s command or similar crimes. Often, however, these are situations that escalate between a police officer who doesn’t like his authority being challenged and a stubborn teenager who – like all teens – doesn’t like being told what to do. In this common scenario, prosecutors are likely to side with the police officer. This is why it is important for your child to have his or her own defense attorney to fairly present your side of the case to the court.
Statements made to teachers, principals, school officers, and other staff can be admitted as evidence against your child. Here, too, it is important to consult with an attorney about your child’s legal rights. Often, these statements can be kept out of trial, as your child did not make a voluntary waiver of his or her known constitutional rights. This can be an important factor in whether your child will end up with a conviction on his or her criminal record.
How do I get my child the help he or she needs?
This question leads to the most critical work we do in the Juvenile Court. Regardless of whether we negotiate a fair plea deal or argue for a lenient sentence, the underlying causes of your child’s conduct must be addressed. This can include:
- Counseling (for the teen, parents, or family as a whole)
- Substance abuse screening and treatment
- Academic testing and assessment
- Tutoring and other academic services
- Anger management counseling
Our “Community Resources” section below has links to services throughout Madison County that might be helpful to you. You should also consult with teachers and other school staff to get insight into any academic problems your child might be having. If you have private health insurance, check to see what mental health services are covered. A simple screening and assessment can give you great insight into what further treatment might be necessary. It also shows the court that you are taking your child’s case seriously, and being proactive in addressing the underlying causes of your child’s behavior to ensure that the conduct does not occur again.
Madison Juvenile Court Personnel
It is helpful to work with an attorney who has appeared in your assigned court before. At the Joslyn Law Firm, our attorneys have experience in the Madison Juvenile Court. They have negotiated with the juvenile prosecutors to successfully resolve cases. They have appeared before Judge Brown and learned his preferences in the courtroom. These are important experiences that can help your case run far more smoothly.
Here are some of the court personnel who might be involved in your child’s case:
- Judge — Christopher R. Brown
- Clerk of Court – Renae E. Zabloudil
- Chief Deputy Clerk – Lynn Pulver
Madison Community Resources for Juveniles and Their Families
Families almost always face other challenges along with a juvenile’s legal problems. These issues can be the cause of, or a result of, the criminal charges against your child. In either event, it is important to address these problems in order to help your teen get back on the right track. Accessing support will also demonstrate to a juvenile court judge that your family has the help it needs to keep your teen in school, abiding by the law, and otherwise out of trouble.
Here are some resources in Madison County that might be helpful, depending on your family’s situation:
- Madison County Family & Children First Council
- Madison County Department of Family and Children (and their family services)
- Madison County Child Support Enforcement Agency
- Youth Opportunities through The Ohio State University
- Academic resources through the London Public Library
- Madison County Veteran Services
- Mental Health Services for Clark and Madison Counties
- Mental Health and Recovery Board
- The Ohio Domestic Violence Network
- The Madison County Board of Developmental Disabilities
Madison Law Enforcement
10 E. First Street
London, Ohio 43140
Records requests: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chief: Glenn Nicol
Non Emergency: 740-852-1414
1 South London Street
Mount Sterling, Ohio 43143
Fax: (740) 869-3442
Non Emergency: (740) 869-2211
23 W. High Street
London, Ohio 43140
Sheriff: John R. Swaney
Submit a tip online: here
Fax: (740) 852-7125
Non Emergency: (740) 852-1332
Madison Juvenile Court Location and Contact Information
The Juvenile Court is located at 1 North Main Street in downtown London. This is the courthouse located in the county complex to the west of the intersection of High Street and Main Street. The Juvenile Court and Probate Court are both located in the same courtroom (Room 205).
The Court is open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. It is closed on all legal holidays observed by the State of Ohio.
Seek Help from Our Madison Juvenile Court Defense Lawyers Today
If you or your child has been accused of a crime or arrested, your first call should be to an experienced Madison County juvenile crime defense attorney. Contact the Joslyn Law Firm online or by calling 614-444-1900. We are ready to help.