Juvenile Defense

Ann Arbor Lawyer Defending Juveniles Accused of Criminal Offenses

When minors are accused of engaging in criminal activities in Michigan, their behavior will typically be dealt with by the juvenile justice system. Michigan has specific laws and procedures in place to handle juvenile offenses, and it is important for any minor charged with a crime to understand their rights and potential defenses. If your minor child is accused of a delinquency or status offense, it is advisable to talk to an attorney about your options as soon as possible. Sam Bernstein of ArborYpsi Law is a knowledgeable Ann Arbor juvenile defense lawyer with the skills and resources needed to obtain successful outcomes in juvenile matters, and if you retain his services, he will diligently pursue the best result available in your case.

Juvenile Charges in Michigan

Michigan’s juvenile justice system purports to balance accountability and rehabilitation for minors who engage in criminal behavior. The system considers individuals under the age of 17 as juveniles. However, in certain cases, juveniles aged 14 or older can be tried as adults for serious offenses.

Juvenile charges in Michigan are typically deemed delinquency or status offenses. Delinquency offenses encompass a wide range of crimes committed by minors, such as theft, drug possession, assault, vandalism, or underage drinking. Juveniles charged with delinquency offenses are subject to the jurisdiction of the family court system. Status offenses are specific to minors and include acts that would not be considered crimes if they were committed by adults. Examples of status offenses include truancy, curfew violations, and running away from home.

Juvenile Defense Strategies

In any criminal proceeding, the precise defenses available depend on the facts of the case; however, some juvenile defense strategies are more common than others. For example, just as in adult criminal cases, juvenile defendants have certain rights protected by the United States and Michigan Constitutions, including the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. This right is guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment, which ensures that no one can be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.

The burden of proving guilt in juvenile proceedings rests with the prosecution. They must present evidence that convincingly demonstrates the juvenile’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the highest standard of proof. To meet this burden, the prosecution must establish each element of the crime charged. If they fail to prove any element, the juvenile should not be adjudicated delinquent. In contrast, juvenile defendants are not obligated to prove their innocence or provide evidence during any proceedings.

Further, Juvenile defendants, like adults, are protected from self-incrimination by the United States and Michigan Constitutions. This means, among other things, that they cannot be compelled to make incriminating statements, and the prosecution bears the burden of showing that juvenile confessions were made voluntarily and with a valid Miranda waiver in order for the confession to be admitted as evidence.

The admissibility of juvenile confessions, whether obtained during custodial or non-custodial questioning, is determined by considering various factors, including whether the juvenile was informed of their rights, whether they fully understood those rights, the extent to which the police followed the law, the presence of an adult, the juvenile’s background, age, intelligence, and education, their prior experience with the police, and the duration, frequency, and nature of the questioning. If the defense can establish that a juvenile’s rights were violated during the investigation process, they can argue that any statements made at that time should be deemed inadmissible.

Meet with a Dedicated Ann Arbor Lawyer

While juvenile offenders are treated less stringently than adults, an adjudication of guilt can nonetheless permanently impair a child’s rights and reputation. If your child is charged with a crime, it is smart to meet with an attorney as soon as possible. Sam Bernstein of ArborYpsi Law is a dedicated Ann Arbor criminal defense lawyer who understands what it takes to prevail in juvenile proceedings, and if you hire him, he will advocate aggressively for your child’s best interests. Our office is located in Ann Arbor, and we regularly represent minors in juvenile proceedings throughout Michigan, including cities in Ann Arbor, Dearborn, East Lansing, and Flint. You can reach us via our online form or by calling us at (734) 883-9584 to set up a confidential and free conference.

Client Reviews

Sam was a helpful lawyer who is a man of his word. He helped in our cases 2 times in a row with successful outcomes. I could not think of a better lawyer who is always on time to court, good attitude, smart, and honest. He is respectful and answers all of the questions we had. Two cases were both a...


It has been a couple of days since Sam represented my son in Washtenaw County. He gave me the miracle I prayed for. He did way more than I thought was possible and as I told him on the phone I would hug him if I could. If you ever need a good lawyer, this guy is the one to hire – and his prices are...


Sam took my call and consulted me immediately. He provided fair pricing for the legal services I was requiring. I hired him about a week before my case, he still took on the case load and did amazing work. He is an excellent attorney and a friendly person to be in the court room with when you’re in...


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