Memphis Juvenile Law Attorney Defends Youths Facing Charges

Shelby County firm seeks appropriate resolutions for clients

A young person accused of a criminal offense or another type of misconduct deserves strong representation. At Jack P. Sherman, Attorney at Law in Memphis, I represent minors who have been charged within the juvenile and adult justice systems. If your son or daughter is facing an allegation of wrongdoing, you should know that there are usually alternatives to detention available, depending on the circumstances of the specific case. My firm offers strong advocacy to help juveniles avoid overly harsh punishment. 

Understanding Tennessee’s juvenile justice system

Tennessee’s Office of Juvenile Justice operates under the state’s Department of Children’s Services. This structure highlights how proceedings involving minors are designed to focus more on rehabilitation and the prevention of future problems instead of punishment. The state recognizes that many of the children who come into the juvenile justice system have been victims themselves of neglect, abuse or addiction. A youth who is charged faces an adjudicatory hearing where a determination is made as to whether he or she committed the offense. From there, the juvenile might receive judicial diversion, which offers them a chance to avoid a dispositional hearing and possible extended detention by agreeing to certain conditions.

Status and delinquent offenses under Tennessee law

Juvenile offenses fall into two general categories. Status offense charges involve behavior that is only prohibited due to the youth’s age. Truancy, curfew violations and possession of tobacco products are common examples. A status offense might be resolved through probation and/or a directive related to misbehavior. Accordingly, a child who has run away or incurred excessive school absences could avoid further punishment if they attend school on a regular basis.

When a minor engages in misconduct that would be criminal even for an adult, that is described as a delinquent offense. Petty theft, vandalism, simple assault and other crimes commonly associated with teenagers are misdemeanors. If a juvenile is found to have committed one of these offenses, they might face detention in a community-based facility. However, each case is unique, and in many instances a compelling argument can be made that the child would be less likely to get in trouble by remaining at home, giving back to the community and receiving counseling. A more serious felony charge could lead to placement in one of the state’s two hardware secure juvenile facilities, or even a prosecution in adult criminal court.

Will my child be charged in criminal court? 

In nearly every case, a Tennessee resident under the age of 18 will have the case adjudicated within the juvenile justice system. There are instances where youths have been prosecuted within the adult criminal system due to the seriousness of the alleged offense. Though minors are housed separately from adults in a jail or prison, it is possible that a minor could face a long adult sentence if they are convicted for a violent crime. If your child is being accused of a crime involving violence or a sexual attack, I am deeply familiar with both justice systems and will vigorously defend your child’s fundamental rights.  

Do I need an attorney in juvenile court?

Retaining an attorney can be enormously beneficial to an accused youthful offender. My background with the state’s juvenile justice system helps me to identify available alternatives to detention. Accountability in these cases might involve several different measures, including community service, restitution and treatment for emotional or substance abuse issues. My firm strives to secure an appropriate resolution that eliminates or minimizes punitive detention.  

Contact an experienced Tennessee juvenile law attorney for a free consultation

Jack P. Sherman, Attorney at Law represents Tennessee youths in matters involving the state’s juvenile justice system. To schedule a free consultation ay my Memphis office, please call 901-233-3474 or contact me online.