Juvenile Defense

Child Advocates in Knoxville, TN

Knoxville Juvenile Defense Attorneys

It is a traumatic scenario many parents and guardians in Knoxville are forced to deal with … their child has been charged with a criminal offense. They see their child’s future is now in doubt, and their reputation is at stake. An entire family’s reputation may be at stake. With so much on the line, it is critical that a parent or guardian be proactive and take swift action to help protect the rights of their child. One of the most important steps is to hire an experienced juvenile defense lawyer in Knoxville.

Overview of the Tennessee Juvenile Justice System

Knoxville TN Juvenile Defense Lawyers

Many parents are surprised to discover how different the Tennessee juvenile justice system is compared to the criminal justice system seen on TV. The unique aspects of the juvenile justice system are an important consideration when deciding which Knoxville criminal defense lawyer is best to represent a child. The reason is because not every attorney is familiar or well versed with the regulations governing cases when the defendant is a juvenile, which makes hiring a reputable juvenile defense lawyer all the more important.

One of the most unique aspects of the juvenile justice system in Tennessee is that juvenile proceedings take place in closed courtrooms. Another fairly novel aspect of a juvenile case is that your child is not entitled to a jury trial. In most juvenile criminal cases, a judge is empowered to make a determination on your child’s guilt or innocence. Another unique feature of juvenile justice proceedings is that your child is generally not entitled to bail, which means whatever sentence the judge hands down may likely be served in a juvenile correctional facility. This is a big reason why it is so important to have the best juvenile defense attorney in Knoxville working on your child’s case and doing all they can to avoid a conviction.

Call to speak with a juvenile defense lawyer

Garza Law’s attorneys are ready to assist with your juvenile defense needs. Call us anytime at (865) 540-8300 — we are here for you. Evening and weekend appointments available.

Overview of Age Restrictions in Tennessee’s Juvenile Justice System

One of the first questions that will likely be asked by your child’s defense attorney is how old they were when the alleged offense took place. This is important because the age of your child can directly impact the legal proceedings your child could be subjected to. For example:

  1. Children younger than the age of 7 typically cannot be tried, even in a Tennessee juvenile court. However, the parent of the child could potentially be held legally responsible for their child’s actions.
  2. Older juveniles, typically between the ages of 15 and 18, can be tried as adults for serious criminal offenses.
  3. Under Tennessee law, anyone who is age 18 or older is considered to be an adult.

Juvenile Defense for Traffic Violations and Traffic Tickets

Juvenile Defense Lawyers Near MeIf your child is charged with a traffic offense in or around Knoxville, it is important to hire one of the best juvenile defense lawyers in Knoxville to help protect your child’s rights. When a juvenile is charged with a traffic violation, such as a speeding ticket, running a red light, etc. the case will be referred to juvenile court. Your child will be required to appear in court with a parent to address the charges. This is why it is so important for your child to have effective representation provided by an experienced and knowledgeable juvenile court defense lawyer. A seasoned attorney can make a significant difference in the end result of your child’s traffic case.  A good juvenile defense lawyer can often keep an unwanted citation or traffic ticket off from their child’s record.  Hiring an attorney for a citation may result in more up front cost beyond just the fine associated with the ticket, however, keeping tickets and unwanted points off of your son or daughter’s driving record could significantly keep the cost of your family’s auto-insurance from skyrocketing.

Juvenile Defense for Points and Driver’s License Suspensions

In Tennessee, the accumulation of points on your driving record from traffic violations carry significant ramifications. For children under the age of 18, the penalties can be even more sever compared to an adult. This is why it is extremely important to retain the best juvenile defense attorney in Knoxville to help your child with their traffic citation case. Marcos Garza and the attorneys at the Garza Law Firm have successfully defended traffic violations on behalf of adults and minors throughout Knoxville for over 20 years.

Underage DWI (Underage DUI)

If you child is charged with drunk driving and is under the age of 18, it is imperative to retain legal counsel in order to best navigate the juvenile court system. In Tennessee, getting charged with an Underage DWI is extremely serious and punishable by fines, community service, alcohol evaluations/treatment, suspension of driving privileges, and extremely high insurance premiums.

When you hire Knoxville juvenile defense attorney Marcos Garza to defend your child in a DUI or DWI case, you can be assured that Mr. Garza will fight for the best possible outcome in your child’s case. He possesses thousands of hours of courtroom experience that will be fully utilized in working out a solution to your child’s legal problems.

Situations Where Juveniles Can Be Charged as Adults

Juvenile Defense Attorney Knoxville TNIn Tennessee, it is possible for a juvenile to be charged as an adult, depending on the specific circumstances, the past history of your child, and the severity of the alleged criminal offense. For example, if a juvenile commits a felony criminal offense, they could potentially be charged as an adult. It is also important to note that if a juvenile is charged with a criminal offense where they could be subjected to the death penalty, if convicted, their case will likely be transferred to the Department of Corrections.

If your child is facing a transfer hearing to be tried as an adult, or is already being prosecuted as an adult, it is critically important to retain the best juvenile criminal defense lawyer in Knoxville to handle your child’s case. If you have a knowledgeable and respected attorney working on your child’s defense, they will likely have the skills and resources to build a defense that could help convince a judge that your child is innocent or, at the very least, consider a lesser sentence such as community service, counseling, etc.

Examples of Juvenile Criminal Offenses

In Tennessee, it is possible for a child to be charged with virtually any crime that an adult can be charged with. Some of the most common criminal offenses brought against juveniles include:

  1. Alcohol-related crimes (DWI, drunk driving);
  2. Computer-related crimes (hacking, child pornography);
  3. Drug-related criminal offenses
  4. Shoplifting
  5. Burglary
  6. Vandalism
  7. Other forms of theft (e.g., stealing a car, breaking into a home, etc.)

Why You Should Hire an Experienced and Knowledgeable Knoxville Juvenile Defense Attorney

Here are some common reasons why you should hire an experienced and knowledgeable juvenile defense lawyer in Knoxville to advocate on your child’s behalf:

An Attorney Will Review the Facts of Your Child’s Case to Assess Whether Their Rights Were Violated During the Arrest

When you hire a respected and skilled defense lawyer to represent your child, one of the first steps they will take is conducting an in-depth review of the actions taken by law enforcement during your child’s arrest. This review is extremely important because if there is evidence that police violated the rights of your child, it could serve as a basis for getting the case dismissed entirely, or creating a catalyst for negotiating a reduced offense. For example, evidence of a procedural violation could result in certain types of evidence being deemed inadmissible in court.

Examples of violations that may be committed by law enforcement during an arrest include:

  • Police conducted an illegal search and seizure of evidence, without sufficient probable cause or a legal warrant;
  • A police officer failing to read your child their Miranda Rights during the arrest;
  • Your child not being informed of the right to have an attorney and guardian present during questioning; and/or
  • Your child was not informed of their Constitutional right to avoid self-incrimination.

Effective Advocacy at the Disposition Hearing

In most disposition hearings, a judge will be empowered to make a determination on the guilt or innocence of your child. The terms of the disposition will be influenced on a multitude of factors and issues, including:

  1. The severity of the alleged criminal offense;
  2. Whether your child already has a criminal record;
  3. The demeanor of your child during the disposition hearing. For example, if your child shows remorse and has taken steps to improve their lives, the outcome of the disposition hearing could be probation and community service, as opposed to much harsher penalties.

A respected and skilled juvenile defense attorney will work tirelessly to build a case that persuades the judge to find in favor of your child and, hopefully, avoid harsh legal and financial penalties related to the alleged criminal offense.

Ability to Negotiate for Diversion Programs

Depending on the facts of your child’s case, an experienced defense attorney may recommend negotiating with the government for a “diversion” of your child’s case. Basically, this means your child’s case would be resolved before a formal petition is filed and a case is scheduled for trial. Diversion programs typically involve a parent’s participation in resolving the criminal case. Though, it is important to note that not all criminal offenses qualify for diversion. Most cases involve misdemeanors and less serious felony crimes.

Criminal Convictions, Even for Juveniles, Are Not Sealed Automatically

Some people mistakenly believe that a juvenile criminal conviction is automatically sealed and will stay sealed for the foreseeable future after the minor reaches the age of 18. This is not true. There are a number of jobs, often jobs with federal or state governments, that will require your child to release juvenile records that may otherwise difficult for others to obtain.  For this reason, it is vital to hire an experienced juvenile defense attorney in order to ensure that all of the future options for your child, whether it be military service, or future employment with a state or federal agency, remained open I the future. 

Contact a Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyer in Knoxville Today

As you can see, if your child is facing juvenile charges for any criminal offense, it is extremely important to be proactive and take swift action to protect your child’s rights. This is why you should contact Knoxville juvenile defense lawyer Marcos Garza and the Garza Law Firm team of attorneys sooner rather than later. For more than twenty years, Mr. Garza has defended children accused of crimes in courtrooms throughout Tennessee.

In many instances, Mr. Garza can work to resolve your child’s criminal case without the need for a formal hearing. For example, a resolution could be achieved through mediation, an out-of-court option where all relevant parties work to achieve a specific outcome, including an end to the Juvenile Court proceeding. Mr. Garza has helped children in court proceedings throughout the greater Knoxville region, including Knox County, Sevier County, Loudon County, Jefferson County, Hamblen County, Greene County, and across East Tennessee.

With the right legal team on your child’s side, it will be possible to effectively navigate the complex and challenging juvenile justice system in Tennessee. The primary goal that the Garza Law Firm strives for is to reduce any penalties or get the criminal charges dismissed entirely.

If your child has been charged with a criminal offense, take action by contacting the Garza Law Firm at (865) 540-8300. or by sending an email to info@garzalaw.com.