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Juvenile offenders and Juvenile Court: who, what, where and when?

The state of Tennessee says a "Juvenile offender is any juvenile who has been found by the juvenile court to have committed a delinquent offense." While that's a bit of a circular definition, we are here to help clear things up.

Juveniles are people below the age of 18. Juvenile Court can be found here in Clarksville at the Montgomery County Courts Center. Juvenile Court is where a judge decides on what is to be done with a juvenile accused of crime.

On its website, the state says studies show that when a parent goes with their child to Juvenile Court, that child has better odds of staying out of future trouble.

It is undoubtedly true, too, that when parents of a child accused of breaking the law retain a criminal defense attorney, and all of them attend court hearings together, the young person also has a better chance of staying out of trouble than an unaccompanied and unrepresented child.

It's also good for parents and juveniles to understand the consequences of breaking the law. Think of a simple job application: there can be a difficult moment when the juvenile offender fills one out and is asked on it "have you been convicted of any crime?" The honest answer in this situation is "no." That's because juvenile records are not records of convictions, but rather of adjudications.

Remember, too, that in some cases juvenile records can be expunged. Talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney about how problems with the law in youth can be removed from the public record and treated as if they had never happened.

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