In many ways, juvenile offenders in Oklahoma face an entirely different legal system than adults face. The goal of the juvenile system is to rehabilitate youthful offenders before they become lifelong criminals, whereas the objective of the criminal justice system is to punish and protect the public.
Oklahoma has created parallel court systems for adults and juveniles, with different procedures for each. And while juveniles are granted slightly more leniency in most cases, they still face serious consequences that may follow them for a lifetime. If your loved one is facing juvenile charges in Grady County, Oklahoma, the experienced attorneys at the Worden Law Firm are ready to help.
Oklahoma Juvenile Charges
Juveniles can face different consequences and varying procedures depending on how the juvenile is classified. There are three types of juvenile classification under Oklahoma law:
- Juvenile Delinquent
- Youthful Offender
- Juveniles Charged as Adults
Juvenile delinquents are given the most leniency and face the lowest levels of punishment. Youthful offenders face more consequences than juvenile delinquents, but they are still afforded many of the protections reserved for juveniles. For the most serious cases, juveniles can be charged as adults. In that case, they will face the same penalties and consequences as an adult charged with the same crime.
The designation of "juvenile delinquent" is the lowest classification of juvenile offender; in fact, it does not technically result in a criminal conviction. This classification is mostly used for defendants under the age of 15 or in cases of very minor misdemeanor offenses. Upon turning 18, a juvenile delinquent's minor record will be sealed. This gives the juvenile delinquent the opportunity to enter adulthood with a clean criminal history and a fresh start.
While this result sounds favorable to the juvenile, it is worth noting that there are still serious consequences attached to juvenile delinquents. For instance, the state can detain a juvenile in the custody of the Office of Juvenile Affairs until they reach their 18th birthday.
The youthful offender classification is designed to provide stiffer consequences to juveniles than the juvenile delinquent designation typically does. In fact, Oklahoma created the youthful offender designation specifically for instances in which it would be unwarranted to charge a juvenile as an adult, but it is likewise insufficient to merely designate the juvenile as a delinquent.
In most cases, youthful offenders are aged between 15 and 17. The major difference from juvenile delinquency is that youthful offenders wind up with a criminal conviction on their record. Youth offenders also differ from juvenile delinquents in that they are not guaranteed their release upon their 18th birthday. If a youthful offender's sentence is scheduled to run beyond their 18th birthday, the offender may be transferred to adult prison when they turn 18. While these transfers aren't uncommon, there are two circumstances where juvenile courts may deviate from the norm:
- If a juvenile enters the juvenile detention center near their 18th birthday, they may be held in juvenile detention until they reach the age of 20; and
- If a juvenile refuses to comply with rehabilitation efforts in juvenile detention, they may be transferred to adult prison early.
Juveniles Charged as Adults
In the most serious cases, juveniles may be charged as adults in Oklahoma. This procedure is rare, and it is reserved for those accused of charges like murder in the first degree who are ages 15 to 17. Offenders aged 13 or 14 may also be charged as adults in murder cases, but the juvenile's attorney can petition for the juvenile to be charged as a youthful offender. This motion must be made early on in the process.
One important thing to note is that when a juvenile is designated as a youthful offender or an adult, that designation follows them through any other charges they face until they turn 18. If a juvenile has been previously charged as a youthful offender, they cannot be tried as an adult for subsequent crimes.
Juveniles Charged in Grady County
Most of the time, a juvenile that is taken into custody for a misdemeanor offense will be written a ticket and released into the custody of a parent or guardian. But in serious cases, a juvenile may be held in a juvenile detention center or held by juvenile intervention services. This is also the case when a juvenile would ordinarily be released to a parent or guardian but it is deemed unsafe to return them home.
6th Judicial District Prosecutor
For juveniles charged with offenses in Grady County, Oklahoma, there are a number of different offices that may prosecute them. Most of the juvenile prosecutions are handled by dedicated juvenile prosecutors with the Prosecuting Attorney's office. Grady County falls within District 6, which covers Grady, Caddo, Jefferson, and Stephens Counties. The District 6 prosecuting attorney is based in the Stephens County Courthouse in Duncan, Oklahoma.
The 6th District Prosecuting Attorney's Office handles cases involving both adults and juveniles in Grady County. These prosecutors will handle both youthful offender cases and cases where juveniles are tried as adults. The prosecutor is based in Duncan, Oklahoma, but there is a dedicated office for the Prosecuting Attorney in the Grady County Courthouse at 217 N. 3rd Street, Chickasha, Oklahoma 73018.
There are two main types of facilities that juveniles can be held in. Juvenile detention centers are designed for holding juveniles charged with more serious crimes. They are used both for juveniles awaiting their day in court and for those serving their sentence. Grady County does not have its own juvenile detention center.
The second type of facility is known as juvenile intervention services (JIS). These are third-party facilities designed for non-violent juveniles. They are intended to be less harsh than juvenile detention centers, and they focus on rehabilitation. Southwest Youth and Family Services operates a JIS facility located at 198 E Almar Drive, Chickasha, Oklahoma 73018.
Juvenile Defense Attorneys You Can Trust
Even the lowest level of juvenile charges can have lasting consequences. If your loved one is facing juvenile charges in Grady County, Oklahoma, contact the Worden Law Firm for a free consultation.