Penalties in the Arizona Juvenile System


When minors commit crimes in Arizona, they are subject to the laws of juvenile court. These laws are similar to those in the adult judicial system, but they vary and focus more on rehabilitation than incarceration.

In Arizona’s juvenile system, there are common penalties and punishments that you or your child may face if he or she is adjudicated – or convicted – of a crime in juvenile court.

Those penalties may include:

  • Serving intensive probation
  • Paying fines and restitution
  • Performing community service
  • Serving time in a juvenile correction facility
  • Being tried as an adult in normal judicial system

While some of these punishments are more severe than others, in all cases, you’ll want to explore the potential consequences of a juvenile crime, and consider working with an attorney who can lessen your child’s penalties.

Below is a breakdown of the penalties juveniles can face in Arizona, and what each penalty entails.

Juvenile Probation

If a juvenile qualifies for probation, he or she will be forced to meet strict requirements set by the court. These include participating in community service, getting a job, working on school functions, and similar activities.

In addition, the juvenile will have to pay fees, restitutions and surcharges associated with the probation period. There may be additional constraints as well, including drug and alcohol testing, or electronic monitoring.

If your child is on probation, he or she will have to successfully fulfill the requirements of the period in order to avoid further legal consequences.

Paying Fines and Restitution

If a crime resulted in property or other damage that must be compensated for, a juvenile – and his or her parents – may be responsible for restitution. This can be a significant cost if the damage was severe, but in some cases, there may be no restitution needed at all.

The expenses of the juvenile legal process will also be an obligation of the juvenile and his or her family. All fees, surcharges and other costs associated with the legal process must be paid in full in order to avoid more penalties.

Performing Community Service

Community service may be a requirement of a larger probation program, but it can also be a stand-alone requirement. The court may set a minimum number of hours that must be completed, and usually this must be done within a certain time frame.

The juvenile may have to check in from time to time to make sure they are meeting their community service requirements. In some cases, the service will be assigned, or in other cases, the juvenile has the option of where to perform his or her community service.

Serving Time in a Correctional Facility

For more serious juvenile crimes, serving time in a correctional facility may be required. In the adult system this is known as incarceration, but because of the focus on rehabilitation for minors, it is referred to as “detention” for juveniles.

The duration and terms of a detention term will depend on the circumstances of the crime, and may also include probation and other requirements once the juvenile has completed his or her time in a correctional facility.

Being Tried as an Adult

According to A.R.S. 13-501, juveniles from the ages of 15 to 18 who commit certain crimes can be tried as adults. Those crimes include:

  • Murder in the first degree
  • Murder in the second degree
  • Forcible sexual assault
  • Armed robbery
  • Aggravated driving
  • Any other offense deemed violent

There are also cases in which juveniles with more than one adjudication can be tried in adult court. If the County Attorney in the court wishes to try the juvenile as an adult, the judge must determine that there is probable cause to do so, and if it should be done in order to protect the community, in the case of violent offenses.

Reducing Your Juvenile Penalties

If you or your child is facing juvenile charges, contact the experienced juvenile attorneys at JacksonWhite Law today. We focus on providing your child with the best possible defense, and we work relentlessly to reduce the impact of juvenile charges.

Call the JacksonWhite Criminal Law team at (480) 467-4370 to discuss your case today.

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