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July 25, 2022

Help! What Should I Do If My Child Has Been Arrested In Nevada?

Child Arrested in Nevada, handcuffed and ready to be taken to prison.

No parent ever expects to receive the phone call. You’ve spent your child’s entire lifetime teaching them right from wrong. Yet…

Your child has been alleged to have committed a crime and they have been arrested. You can barely believe the words you’re hearing, and as your heart threatens to beat out of your chest, you’re left with one terrifying question… “What do I do now?”

First, take a deep breath and do your best to stay calm. Yes, this is a challenging time, however, remaining level-headed is your best strategy. 

If you or your child has been accused of breaking the law, it is important to take the accusations seriously, as the courts (adult and juvenile alike) have the authority to impose real, life-changing consequences. Like adults, juveniles are entitled to an attorney, so finding the right lawyer to represent you or your child and educating yourself about the process is essential.

Similarly, if your child is now an adult, they could possibly be prosecuted for a crime they committed as a minor. Throughout this piece, we’ll walk you through what to expect if your child is accused of committing a crime so you can navigate the Nevada juvenile justice system.

What happens if a child is arrested? 

When a child is arrested in Nevada, the police will take them to a juvenile detention facility where they will be held until their detention hearing. The police are responsible for notifying the child’s parent or guardian, as is the detention facility where the child is being held. The detention facility will also notify a probation officer. 

Within 72 hours (not including weekends and holidays), the child will be brought in front of a juvenile court who will determine whether they’ll be released, released with conditions (like house arrest), or held at the detention facility until their court date.

How are charges brought against children? 

Within the state of Nevada, the juvenile court has jurisdiction over anyone under the age of 18 who has been accused of committing a crime. They also hold jurisdiction over individuals 21 years of age and under who committed a crime before their 18th birthday. Charges brought against a minor are not considered “criminal” but rather delinquent in nature.

How are juvenile cases handled by the court? 

When a child has been arrested, the District Attorney’s office files a petition alleging that either (1) the child has committed a delinquent act or (2) the child is in need of supervision. Once this has been done, a plea hearing is set so the child can answer this petition with an admission or a denial. 

If the child admits to the allegations, they will be sentenced by the judge. If the child denies the allegations, an adjudicatory hearing is held. Similar to a trial, the defense and the prosecution will call witnesses and present evidence and their arguments. Unlike adult trials however, juvenile proceedings in Nevada do not include a jury. If the petition is sustained, the judge will sentence the child at that time.

Your child is entitled to an attorney.

Yes, your child is entitled to an attorney at every stage of the proceedings. The public defender’s office will likely be appointed to represent your child; however, you may choose to hire a private attorney as well.

Will my child have a record? 

Under most circumstances, a minor’s record is sealed when they reach the age of 21 or three years after the child’s last adjudication hearing (if requested by the child or probation officer). There are exceptions to this rule, including if the juvenile has been convicted of committing a sexual offense, or if the juvenile is being tried as an adult. 

In order to open a sealed file, someone would need a court order and legitimate interest to do so.

What penalties could my child receive in juvenile court? Could my child go to jail or prison? 

Depending on the type of delinquency and the judge, your child could receive a number of penalties. Such as:

  • Mandatory counseling
  • Random drug or alcohol testing
  • Suspension of their driver’s license
  • Fines
  • Participation in classes run by the probation department to develop skills and manage anger
  • Participation in mental health or substance abuse treatment services, and/or
  • Incarceration time in a juvenile detention facility. 

If the judge deems it appropriate, any minor 12 years of age or older can be committed to a detention facility.

Can juveniles be tried as adults in Nevada? 

Normally, children will be considered “delinquent” and charged as minors when they have committed a crime. However, there are some situations when the court may choose to try a child as an adult criminal. This can happen when:

1.     The minor is accused of a felony offense AND

2.     The minor is 14 years old or older. 

A 16 or 17-year-old accused of violent crimes such as rape, gun crimes, murder, or attempted murder is required to be charged as an adult.   

The difference between a “delinquent child” and a “child in need of supervision.” 

According to Nevada state law, there are two categories for a minor inside the criminal justice system. 

A delinquent child is a minor who has broken the law. In other words, if they had been an adult when they committed the offense, they would be facing criminal charges. 

Whereas, a child in need of supervision is a minor who has met one or more of the following:

  • Habitual truancy from school
  • Habitual defiance toward a parent or guardian
  • Running away from home
  • Breaking local curfews, loitering ordinances, or tobacco laws.

Contributing to the delinquency of a minor. 

As a parent or guardian, you may be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor if:

  • You fail to provide adult supervision or the child is in the company of criminals
  • The child is forced to beg in public, be homeless, or live in an unfit home
  • The child habitually misses school, is allowed to take drugs or alcohol, or breaks the law in other ways 

If you are being charged with contributing to juvenile delinquency, you should seek your own legal representation. If you and your child are being charged separately, it is a good idea to hire two legal representatives, one team for each of you.    

How to fight delinquency charges. 

A child being arrested can be a frightening and emotional experience with lifelong consequences. You’ll want to remain as calm as possible and seek the proper attorney who can walk you through every step of the process and represent your child within the juvenile courts. 

If you live in the Las Vegas or Henderson, Nevada area and you or your child is being charged with delinquency or a crime, contact John F. Marchiano Law to begin building a stellar defense, today.