What Happens When People Under the Age of 18 Are Accused of Crimes in Ohio?

Centerville parents who have ever dealt with having their child accused of a criminal offense know how distressing such an event can be. Perhaps you were concerned about your child’s behavior prior to the allegations, or perhaps the entire issue came out of left field. Either way, you are likely worried and anxious, wondering how much trouble your child is in and what effect these charges will have on their future. 

Minors have the right to have their parents and/or an attorney present when being questioned by law enforcement—and have the right to refuse to speak to police officers without this support. Crimes under 18 are unique in that the minor may not have fully understood the consequences of their actions—and because such charges can derail the minor’s future. Minors are not technically found guilty of crimes should the court find they committed an offense in the same way adults are. 

Adults are charged with misdemeanors or felonies, while minors are charged with violations that are equivalent to these crimes. A minor will not be found guilty or not guilty, rather the judge will adjudicate the minor, issuing a “sentence” in the form of a disposition order. If your child has been accused of an Ohio crime, contact an experienced juvenile criminal attorney from Horwitz & Horwitz, LLC. Our highly skilled juvenile lawyers will ensure your child’s rights and future are protected from beginning to end. 

What Are the Potential Consequences of Centerville Crimes Under 18?

The consequences and penalties for an Ohio juvenile criminal offense will depend on the specific offense, however, can be extremely serious—including the following:

  • Temporary or more permanent custody confinement 
  • Driver’s license suspension
  • Community service
  • Medical or psychological counseling or treatment
  • Alcohol or drug treatment
  • Detention facility placement
  • When charged as an adult, imprisonment
  • Probation house arrest
  • Fines, fees, and court costs
  • A requirement to complete a high school diploma
  • Curfew
  • Monitoring of drug and alcohol use

When a delinquent child is convicted of a felony equivalent, the most severe sanction is to be sent to the Ohio Department of Youth Services. When a delinquent child is convicted of a misdemeanor equivalent, the most severe sanction is to be sent to a local detention center for up to 90 days. 

In some cases, for crimes under 18, the minor is designated as a Serious Youth Offender or SYO. The sentence for an SYO designation may combine a sentence typically given to a juvenile with a sentence typically given to an adult offender. Children under the age of 10 cannot be designated SYO. Determining the appropriate sentence for a juvenile requires the use of Enhanced Factors which include: 

  • If the offense had been committed by an adult, it would have been considered a violent offense
  • The juvenile used a firearm in the commission of the crime
  • There are prior convictions for serious criminal offenses

As an example of a penalty that could apply to a juvenile who commits an act that would be a felony if committed by an adult, murder or aggravated murder could result in:

  • The minor is committed to the Department of Youth Services until the age of 21
  • Mandatory SYO sentence if the child was 14-15 at the time of the offense
  • Discretionary SYO sentence if the child was 10-13 at the time of the offense
  • Up to 90 days in a detention facility if the child was under 10 at the time of the offense
  • Maximum fines of $2,000

What Are Some Common Juvenile Crimes?

While a juvenile can essentially commit any crime that an adult can commit, certain offenses are far more common crimes under 18. These include:

  • Theft and larceny, primarily shoplifting, stealing bicycles, and theft of backpacks
  • Vandalism, including keying cars, puncturing tires, graffiti, and tagging
  • Alcohol offenses, including underage consumption, purchase or possession, and providing alcohol to minors
  • Disorderly conduct, including indecent exposure (“mooning”), fighting in public, or cursing at a teacher or other authority figure
  • Simple assault including extreme levels of bullying, or shoving and pushing another person
  • Marijuana possession
  • The illegal purchase of tobacco
  • Curfew violations
  • Disciplinary offenses at school, including disrupting classes, truancy, cheating, or violations of dress code
  • Traffic violations, including failure to wear a seat belt, speeding, failure to yield, or riding in the back of a pickup truck
  • Criminal trespass
  • Mischief or criminal nuisance (damaging a mailbox, egging a house)
  • Possession of drug paraphernalia
  • Harassment
  • Fraud
  • Burglary
  • Possession of a weapon
  • Resisting an officer

What Factors Go into Determining Consequences for Crimes Under 18?

When determining consequences for crimes under 18, the court will consider the age of the offender, the physical and mental maturity of the offender, any prior offenses committed by the minor, whether rehabilitation has been previously attempted, future rehabilitation potential, the level of harm suffered by the victim, whether a firearm was used, and whether the offense affected public safety.  These same factors are considered when determining whether a minor should be charged as an adult. 

The court has a choice in the matter, but only when the child was 14 years or older at the time of a felony-equivalent offense. The court will conduct a hearing to determine whether probable cause exists to show the minor committed the offense. An investigation into the offense will be ordered, as well as a mental examination for the minor. An “amenability” hearing will determine whether the minor can be rehabilitated within the juvenile system, and whether community safety dictates the minor be subject to adult penalties. 

How a Horwitz & Horwitz Juvenile Crimes Attorney Can Help

The attorneys at Horwitz & Horwitz understand how difficult it can be when your child is in trouble. We will approach the situation with compassion, along with more than two decades of experience. We are proud of our highly client-centric firm—our attorneys will personally handle your case from beginning to end. Taking the time to develop a strong underlying relationship with our clients is important to us and we are fully committed to being available to you. Our skilled attorneys will ensure you fully understand the legal options available to your child. For the best possible outcome for your child, contact the Centerville Horwitz & Horwitz attorneys today.