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Do you require legal counsel for juvenile offenses in Missouri?

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Any person involved in a legal proceeding has the right to be represented by a St. Louis attorney. However, not everyone can afford to hire an attorney. 


In these cases, the court may appoint a free attorney to represent the person. The criteria for appointing a free attorney are governed by certain statutes and Supreme Court Rules. 


The most important criteria is whether the person is indigent. This means that the person cannot afford to hire an attorney.


In addition to being indigent, the person must also request appointment of counsel. The court will not appoint an attorney for someone who does not request it.


The court may also appoint an attorney for a child, even if the child’s parents are not indigent. This is because children are often not able to represent themselves in court and need the help of an attorney to protect their rights.


The court may also appoint an attorney for a custodian, but only if the custodian is indigent and requests appointment of counsel, and the court finds that a full and fair hearing requires appointment of counsel. If you are involved in a legal proceeding and cannot afford to hire an attorney, you should contact the court to see if you qualify for a free attorney.


The classification of cases in the juvenile system is essential for determining the appropriate legal procedures and handling of each case. Each classification has distinct characteristics and implications, which affect how the case is processed and resolved. Here is a brief overview of the six classifications:


  • Child abuse and neglect: Cases involving allegations of abuse or neglect of a juvenile by a parent or guardian. These cases typically aim to ensure the safety and welfare of the child, and interventions may include protective services or removal from the home.


  • Status offense: Status offenses are actions that would not be considered offenses if committed by an adult but are prohibited for juveniles due to their age. Examples include truancy, runaway, or violating curfew laws.


  • Delinquent offense: Delinquent offenses involve acts committed by juveniles that would be considered criminal offenses if committed by adults. These offenses are subject to juvenile court proceedings and may result in sanctions such as probation, counseling, or placement in juvenile facilities.


  • Traffic offense: Traffic offenses refer to violations of motor vehicle laws committed by juveniles. These offenses are typically handled in juvenile traffic courts and may lead to consequences such as fines, driver’s license restrictions, or educational programs.


  • Municipal curfew violation: Cases involving juveniles who violate curfew ordinances set by local municipalities. Curfew violations are status offenses, and the goal is to address and prevent juvenile delinquency.


  • Tobacco use or possession: Cases involving juveniles found using or possessing tobacco products, which are generally prohibited for minors. The focus is on education and prevention, rather than punitive measures.


The correct classification is crucial for ensuring that each case is processed within the appropriate legal framework and that the juvenile’s rights and welfare are protected. Different classifications may lead to distinct court procedures, potential sanctions, and interventions aimed at addressing the specific needs of each case.


The St. Louis lawyers at Bruntrager & Billings, P.C. represent alleged juvenile offenders all over Missouri. Our firm understands the tremendous consequences that criminal convictions can have for minors, and we will work hard to help you get your criminal charges reduced or dismissed when you call (314) 646-0066 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.