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Common Defenses to Juvenile Crime

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Any type of arrest can be a daunting experience, especially for minors. However, it is important to remember that juveniles, like adults, have the right to defend themselves against criminal charges. Understanding the potential defenses can provide clarity and hope during these challenging times. 

If your child is arrested for a juvenile crime, a Tacoma criminal defense attorney could employ the following common defenses to help minimize the impact of the charges—or even request that the court dismiss them entirely.

#1: False Accusations

One of the most common defenses in juvenile cases is that the accusation is simply not true. False accusations can arise from misunderstandings, misinterpretations, or even malicious intent. It’s essential to gather evidence, witness statements, or alibis that can refute these allegations and prove that the juvenile did not commit the alleged crime.

#2: Illegal Searches and Seizures

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects citizens against unlawful searches and seizures. If law enforcement obtained evidence against a juvenile without a valid search warrant or probable cause, that evidence might be deemed inadmissible in court. Dismissing such evidence can substantially weaken the prosecution’s case.

#3: Lack of Intent

Many crimes require a specific intent to commit them. If a juvenile did not possess the requisite intent, it could serve as a valid defense. For instance, if a minor unintentionally took someone else’s property, believing it was his or her own, the case could lack the intent required for theft.

#4: Duress

Duress occurs when someone commits a crime because he or she was forced or threatened to do so. If a juvenile committed an act under immediate threat or harm, his or her defense attorney might employ the duress defense to negate criminal liability.

#5: Self Defense

If a minor is accused of violence, one potential defense is that they acted in self-defense. To employ this defense, the evidence must demonstrate that the defendant reasonably believed he or she was in imminent danger and used only the necessary force to protect himself or herself from harm.

#6: Lack of Evidence

For a prosecutor’s case to be successful, he or she must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If there’s insufficient evidence linking a juvenile to the alleged crime, it becomes challenging to satisfy this burden of proof. An attorney can scrutinize the evidence’s quality and quantity to identify weaknesses in the prosecution’s case.

#7: Entrapment

Entrapment happens when law enforcement officers induce someone to commit a crime that he or she wouldn’t have otherwise committed. If a juvenile can demonstrate that he or she was persuaded or manipulated into committing a crime by law enforcement, the entrapment defense might be applicable.

#8: Mistaken Identity

With juveniles, mistaken identity can be more common than one might expect, given the similarities in appearance and behavior among children and teenagers. If a minor is accused based on vague descriptions or unreliable witnesses, a defense centered on mistaken identity might be the key to an acquittal.

Always Speak to an Attorney After a Juvenile Arrest

If your child is arrested on suspicion of a crime, it is paramount to consult an attorney right away. A Washington criminal defense lawyer can review the specifics of the case, advise on the best defense strategy, and ensure the juvenile’s rights are protected throughout the process. After the arrest, advise your child not to speak to the police—instead, contact a defense attorney right away to discuss the case.

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