Northern Virginia Juvenile Criminal Lawyer in Fairfax

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Fairfax County Juvenile Criminal Lawyer
and Defense Attorney
– Vincenzes Law, PLLC –
Serving Northern Virginia


Virginia Juvenile Criminal Defense

Serving Juveniles Charged in Northern Virginia

juvenile defense lawyerAt Vincenzes Law, our goal is to exceed our clients’ expectations in areas of communication, efficiency, value of professional legal representation, and attention to detail from the start of the case through its’ resolution. Of course, ultimately, the number one goal is always to secure the best outcome possible given the circumstances.

When it comes to juvenile clients, our Virginia Juvenile Defense Attorney makes sure long-term goals and aspirations are taken into consideration when assessing the best path forward.

This page contains helpful information, but please be aware of your child’s court date. We suggest calling a few juvenile defense attorneys as soon as reasonably possible, following notice of a criminal charge.

To schedule a free consultation: 703.665.3719 or 888.695.6565

To schedule a free consultation or for an online case evaluation: click on the contact form tab (top left of page if on a computer; bottom of browser if using mobile device).

You may also email, with the subject, “case evaluation request.”

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Start Here

If your child has been charged with a criminal offense in Virginia, you are probably experiencing some level of grief, frustration, and possibly anger. But the very fact that you are online looking for information about your child’s charge, or for a Virginia juvenile defense attorney, shows you are likely a good parent. This page is meant to educate, inform, and facilitate better understanding of the implications of being a minor when up against the Virginia juvenile criminal justice system.

Proceed down this page, from left to right, top to bottom. Each section contains important information about juvenile law issues in Virginia.  There are several key distinctions from the adult system. Our Fairfax juvenile criminal lawyer intentionally hones this page in on the procedural differences that will be relevant to nearly every minor defendant and/or family member.

For information about a specific charge, or for an analysis of a case’s facts, you should make an appointment with a Northern Virginia criminal lawyer. In many localities, you can find Virginia criminal attorneys who will meet with you to discuss the case at no cost.

If you are in need of a live-human on the other end of the phone to explain something, you may call the Vincenzes Law firm at 703.665.3719.

Our Fairfax juvenile criminal lawyer serves all of Northern Virginia, including Fairfax County, City of Alexandria, Prince William, Stafford, Arlington, Loudoun, and many others. Time is never on your side when a court case is pending, and it is important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible following the charge(s). Not only is it hard to find an attorney to handle a case at the last minute, but it also will result in less time for your Juvenile criminal lawyer in Virginia to prepare. The more time to plan and prepare for the case, obviously the better.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_single_image image=”2003″ css_animation=”appear” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”300×225″][vc_column_text]

Did Police Call?

A call in the middle of the night from a law enforcement official is never something any parent looks forward to. Second only to a call to report an injury or something worse, learning your child has been charged with a criminal offense is a tough pill to swallow and accept. Sometimes, a child will be honest and talk to a parent or guardian about the situation before the charge becomes official. Other times, a child will try to keep the situation a secret for as long as possible. And in still other situations, a charge may come completely out of left field, so to speak. The important thing is to remain calm, and be prepared to learn a few things about the juvenile criminal justice system in Virginia.

Once you are aware of the charge your child faces, you can determine just how serious the matter is. The criminal law violations may be the biggest hurdle your child faces; for others, it may be a small concern when compared to mental health needs and concerns. The juvenile system tends to take a slightly different approach to the resolution of charges, in that rehabilitation is generally an even higher priority than in the adult system.

It is important to find a Virginia criminal lawyer who knows how to navigate the juvenile and domestic relations courts, the local procedures, and who has familiarity with the particular charges.[/vc_column_text][vc_wp_search title=”Search our website “][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1”][vc_column_text]

Juvenile Criminal Law:
Frequently Asked Questions

Common questions asked of our Fairfax juvenile defense attorney

[/vc_column_text][vc_toggle title=”Was my child “indicted?“ Did they have an arrest warrant issued?” open=”true”]When a juvenile defense lawyer explains to parents of an accused child how the system works, one of the first distinctions made is often the terminology used to refer to the charging document.

For example, in the case of a juvenile criminal law charge, a petition is filed with the court having jurisdiction over the matter. The petition must include specific information, including the accusations against the child. Custody status of the accused is also a requirement.

This differs from the adult justice system because…

Rather than a petition, adults are typically introduced into the justice system as defendants following a warrant.[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”Which court? General District, Circuit, or JDR?” open=”false”]All juvenile criminal cases are filed in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court. In certain cases, a juvenile may be tried as an adult, but your Juvenile defense lawyer should certainly cover this if it is something to be aware of as a possibility.

Adults normally have criminal hearings in the general district or circuit court. In Fairfax, both the general district and circuit courts are in the same building. The juvenile and domestic relations courts are, too. In other jurisdictions, there may be separate buildings; it is important to know where you are going before you have to leave your home and make it to court at a specific time.

Adults are only brought before the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Courts in Virginia if the case involves a juvenile (e.g., a custody hearing), or if there is a criminal charge involving people living in the same house, or who are deemed to be family or household members. The most common charge that leads to adults being summoned to Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court in Fairfax County is domestic violence, also referred to assault or assault and battery.[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”What is the difference between being found “guilty“ vs. “delinquent?“” open=”false”]

Another term to become familiar with: delinquency.

First, a case in the juvenile system is said to be a “delinquency case.” The second most common usage of the word: a child who is convicted after a trial is delinquent or, a delinquent.[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”Why was my child charged with an adult offense?” open=”false”]The vast majority of criminal penal statutes in Virginia make certain conduct and behavior illegal. A few laws are meant to protect juveniles, but some laws only can be violated by a child.

Examples include

  • truancy charges
  • threat to self, and
  • running away (leaving home without permission).

Just because your child is charged with a crime that any adult could be charged with, it does not necessarily mean they will be automatically tried as an adult, in an adult court. Ask your local Virginia or Fairfax County defense attorney if you have any questions.[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”What is a “Child in Need of Services” or a “Child in Need of Supervision?”” open=”false”]It is a term you will probably hear abbreviated and in the context of a “CHINS” petition.

Your child’s juvenile defense attorney will explain in more detail what this means, because to provide any helpful analysis requires an understanding of unique factual circumstances.

If a child-defendant can be diverted to a program before having to go to court, it may be possible. Your child’s previous record is important.[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”What is a “Detention Hearing?“ Will my child be released?” open=”false” css_animation=”appear”]

Detention Hearing vs. Bond Hearing

When an adult is arrested and no bond is set, family members sometimes panic. I completely understand why, and feel very sorry for those who are in such a situation. When I do get these calls, the next step I take as a Fairfax criminal lawyer is to file a motion for a bond hearing. The juvenile criminal law process is slightly different, but many principles are similar.

For adults, bail bonds ensure the defendant will return to court. Whether or not an arrested individual is able to get released on bail depends on:

  • their record: have they been charged and/or convicted of failing to appear for court in the past?
  • are they likely to leave the jurisdiction and not return?
  • is this person a threat to the community?

The factors considered in juvenile cases are slightly different, but it could be argued that the above-mentioned three factors in adult bond hearings apply to some extent to juveniles, too.

The detention hearing is similar to a bond hearing, in that it takes place if a judge refuses to release a child taken into custody. Also like the adult system, a detention hearing is typically scheduled for the following day. When I represent adults, I similarly try to set the bond hearing for the following business day.

What is a detention hearing?
– specifics, described by Fairfax juvenile defense lawyer

Aside from the details provided above about the detention hearing’s purpose, additional goals include protecting the interests of the child.

When the detention hearing begins, the judge should explain to the defendant that he or she has the right to go to trial. The court will inquire into whether or not probable cause exists to keep a child in custody (instead of releasing him or her), if the court does not want to release the child for some reason.

Probable cause” is a legal term beyond the scope of this page, but you can find more about what it really means on our “what is probable cause” page.

Even if the Commonwealth wishes to keep a child in custody and not release him or her, probable cause must be found to do so. If the court finds no probable cause, then there will still be a trial date in the future, but the defendant will be released.

Note: if your child’s charge is pending in Virginia, you may have already been to the detention hearing. To find out when your local jurisdiction conducts detention hearings, check the local rules by visiting your court’s website. If you do not know the address, you can see if your locality is listed on our service areas page. If you find your county or city listed, try clicking on it for the court phone numbers and contact details.[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”What is “Juvenile Probation“ like?” open=”false”]

Juvenile Probation vs. Adult Probation

Juvenile probation may require some terms and conditions that are the same as would be imposed for an adult defendant, but it should come as no surprise that many are not the same, given the differing mental, emotional, and physical needs of children vs. adults.

Common terms of probation (when a child is released to their parents, for instance): curfew, monitoring, home confinement, and good behavior.[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”Where will they take my child if the court refuses to release him/her?” open=”false”]

If your child is not allowed to go home with you, where will they go?

Your child who is required to remain in custody could go to one of a number of facilities, depending on the jurisdiction. In Fairfax County, it may be a group-like home for juveniles called Shelter Care. The Fairfax Detention Center (for juveniles) may be where your child is headed, if not the aforementioned facility.

When a child is kept in custody before trial, they should not spend more than 21 days in custody prior to trial, after the detention hearing.[/vc_toggle][vc_toggle title=”Does the court system consider any special factors when sentencing a juvenile?” open=”false”]

Punishing Juveniles vs. Adults

Sentencing a person who is convicted is not an easy task, regardless of the age of the accused defendant. But when it comes to the additional considerations and protections afforded to minors in so many areas of juvenile criminal law, it makes sense that we would have a procedure in place to take such important aspects into consideration, including the developmental needs of the child. Ultimately, the best interests of the child is a very important consideration.

If a trial results in the child being found delinquent, then any number of things may happen. It all depends on

  • the best interests of the child,
  • their record,
  • any important developmental needs
  • social history concerns
  • the nature of the charge
  • culpability of the accused
  • any other factors that could be tied to the child’s welfare.

If the charge is a minor one and/or if it is a situation in which a juvenile has violated a law but is generally on the right track, the court may allow the case to be deferred, pending good behavior and other terms, which if complied with may result in the case being dismissed. For more severe cases, the juvenile equivalent of prison may be ordered: the Department of Juvenile Justice.

The chances of your child facing time in confinement and out of your custody should be addressed if you speak with a juvenile criminal attorney.  Many cases result in probation, and the juvenile delinquent may go home with his or her parents.

There are programs tailored to meet the needs of juvenile offenders.

Some specific programs in Fairfax are listed on our page(s) published late last year to educate the public about sentencing alternatives in general.

Below are several common juvenile specific programs:

  • Transitional Living
  • Probation House/Foundations (females)
  • Probation House (males)
  • (special program for juveniles too dangerous to be released or placed in other program)

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Goals of a Juvenile Defense Lawyer

Depending on the child’s age, needs, family support system, education level, and specifics of the charge, goals may differ:

  • avoid future run-ins with law enforcement
  • gain wisdom from the unfortunate situation
  • understand how to recognize risk
  • learn how to identify  people who can bring you down
  • learn how to handle interactions with law enforcement
  • acquire habit of living a healthy, active lifestyle
  • promote a sincere desire to avoid illegal substances
  • review priorities to ensure they are aligned with long-term post-high school or GED goals

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Steps to Take

The best steps you can take as a parent of a child facing a criminal charge in Virginia will depend on:

  • your family’s unique circumstances
  • the type of charge
  • the nature of the incident surrounding the charge
  • the child’s account of the incident
  • the best interests of the child, and
  • countless other factors.

To get a true evaluation, a legal professional (a juvenile defense attorney) should be consulted.

That said, these are some common steps:

First, confirm the safety of your child: find out

  • where they are
  • where they are being held or transported
  • what they are charged with.

Second, consult a juvenile defense attorney

If you are not sure who to call, you can run a simple internet search to find local criminal attorneys serving your court system, and many criminal lawyers in Virginia now will specify on their websites whether or not they offer telephone or in-person case evaluations, and whether or not such consultations are with or without charge.

Third: varies

While you will not be the client (the child is the client), you may want to contact a juvenile criminal attorney right away. You can save a lot of time just by talking to one. You do not need to feel pressured to commit financially when you initially call. A good Virginia juvenile criminal lawyer should be willing to listen to your question, and depending on the urgency of the situation, explain what you might want to do.

Typically, just talking to a lawyer does not create an attorney-client relationship, so do not confuse an initial consultation as a session where you are receiving legal advice from a lawyer who is representing your child. If you are confused, ask. When it comes time to cross that bridge, the local Fairfax juvenile criminal lawyer will explain the details surrounding representation, including his or her duties to his client.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]

Offense-Specific Pages by our Fairfax Criminal Attorney

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Brenton D. Vincenzes is a lifelong Fairfax County resident and Fairfax Criminal Defense Lawyer. He is a member of the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, National College of DUI Defense, NORML, and has been awarded the following in 2014-15: Top 100 Trial Lawyer (National Trial Lawyers) Top 40 Under 40 Trial Lawyer (National Trial Lawyers) Nationally Ranked Top 10 Under 40 Defense Attorney (National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys) 10 Best in Client Satisfaction for Criminal Defense (American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys) Nationally Ranked Top 1% Attorney Award Recipient (National Association of Distinguished Counsel) As a local leader, Mr. Vincenzes mentors troubled youths, volunteers his time to serve at his church, takes select pro bono clients, and strives to improve the community. Mr. Vincenzes represents men, women, and juveniles through zealous and diligent advocacy, strategic planning, and skilled trial work preparation. Mr. Vincenzes' areas of criminal law practice are broad, and include most felonies and misdemeanors such as: reckless driving, DUI & DWI, drug offenses, assault and battery, domestic violence, assault on an officer, destruction of property, alcohol offenses, firearm offenses, larceny, shoplifting, embezzlement, fraud, and other theft offenses, and moving traffic violations among others. His private legal services are available in most Northern Virginia jurisdictions, including Fairfax County, Arlington County, Prince William County, Loudoun County, Stafford County, Alexandria, Manassas, Leesburg, South Riding, and other cities and towns.

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