In Oklahoma, there are effectively two different judicial systems: the system for adults and the system for juvenile offenders. While the adult judicial system is intended to punish and deter wrongdoing, the juvenile system is designed to rehabilitate young offenders. The hope is that through rehabilitation, juveniles will avoid a lifetime of criminal activity as adults. This is obviously in the best interest of the juveniles as well as the public at large.
The separate judicial systems necessitate two parallel court systems. The procedures for juvenile court proceedings are different than those in adult criminal cases, with juveniles often receiving more leniency than adults. That doesn't mean juveniles don't face serious consequences; in some cases, young defendants can face the same fate that adult offenders would. If your loved one is charged with a juvenile offense in Canadian County, Oklahoma, contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Worden Law Firm today.
Oklahoma Juvenile Charges
Not all juvenile offenders are treated the same. The consequences a juvenile will face in the justice system will depend largely on how that juvenile is classified under Oklahoma law. There are three separate juvenile classifications in Oklahoma:
- Juvenile Delinquent
- Youthful Offender
- Juveniles Charged as Adults
Juvenile delinquents are the lowest level of classification, typically reserved for the youngest offenders and the most minor of offenses. Youthful offenders face harsher penalties than juvenile delinquents, including incarceration, but they typically receive more leniency than adults. In the most serious of cases, juveniles will be charged as adults and face the same consequences as an adult would if they had committed the same crime.
A juvenile delinquent is the least severe of the three juvenile designations under Oklahoma law. In fact, a conviction in a juvenile delinquent case is not technically even a criminal conviction. In most cases, this designation is reserved for defendants that are under the age of 15. However, it is also used for defendants aged 15 through 17 in very minor misdemeanor cases. A juvenile delinquent's record is sealed when they turn 18, allowing them to enter adulthood with a clean slate.
Juvenile delinquency still carries real penalties; in limited cases, the state can detain a juvenile delinquent in state custody until their 18th birthday.
The designation of a youthful offender is the most recent addition to Oklahoma's designation of juvenile offenders. This was done because of the supposed gap between the limited consequences of juvenile delinquency and the harsh sentences of being charged as an adult.
Youthful offender status is primarily given to defendants aged 15, 16, or 17. The biggest difference between a youthful offender and a juvenile delinquent is that a youthful offender conviction will result in a criminal conviction. Additionally, youthful offenders are sentenced to incarceration for a set amount of time. Unlike juvenile delinquents who are automatically released on their 18th birthday, youthful offenders will stay incarcerated until their sentence is complete.
While it is possible that a youthful offender is transferred to an adult prison upon turning 18, that is not always the case. In most cases, a youthful offender that enters a juvenile detention center near their 18th birthday will be held there until they turn 20. However, if the juvenile refuses to comply with rehabilitation efforts they can actually be transferred to an adult facility before their 18th birthday.
Juveniles Charged as Adults
The most serious cases call for Oklahoma juveniles to be charged as adults. This option is reserved for only the most serious of charges. The designation is used in cases like murder in the first degree and is primarily for offenders aged between 15 and 17 years old. Juveniles as young as 13 can be charged as an adult under Oklahoma law in murder cases, but the juvenile's attorney has the opportunity to petition to be charged as a youthful offender instead.
One unusual thing to note is that once a juvenile is designated as a youthful offender or an adult, that designation will be applied to other criminal cases until the juvenile's 18th birthday. In other words, if a juvenile is charged as a youthful offender, they cannot be charged as an adult later even if the offense warrants the more serious designation.
Juveniles Charged in Canadian County
Typically, a juvenile who is arrested on misdemeanor charges will be given a citation and released into the custody of a parent. However, in more serious cases a juvenile may be held at a juvenile detention center until the case is adjudicated. It is also possible that a juvenile will be held at a detention center if the court determines they don't have a safe home to return to.
1st Judicial District Prosecutor
Juveniles charged with offenses in Canadian County, Oklahoma will typically be prosecuted by the elected prosecutor for the 1st Judicial District. The 1st Judicial District covers Blaine, Canadian, Garfield, Grant, and Kingfisher Counties. The 1st Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney is based out of Canadian County Courthouse in El Reno, Oklahoma.
The prosecutor's office handles misdemeanor and felony charges against juveniles committed within the boundaries of Canadian County. While it is possible that some municipalities may prosecute juveniles for minor misdemeanors and traffic citations, the 1st Judicial District Prosecutor is primarily responsible for these cases. The prosecutor's office is located at 303 N. Choctaw Avenue, El Reno, Oklahoma, 73036.
There are two primary types of facilities in which a juvenile may be held: juvenile detention centers and juvenile intervention services.
Juvenile detention centers are where juveniles charged with serious crimes or who have a history of violence are held. Canadian County has the Canadian County Children's Justice Center located at 7905 East Highway 66, El Reno, Oklahoma 73036.
Juvenile intervention services are privately operated facilities for non-violent juvenile offenders. These facilities are intended to be less severe than detention centers and are primarily for rehabilitation. These facilities also focus on treating underlying issues like drug abuse. Canadian County does not have a JIS facility.