In New Mexico, anyone 17 or younger is considered a juvenile.
When a juvenile is alleged to have committed a crime, the process is similar to that of an adult except with regards to sentencing where the maximum time that a child can be committed is limited until he or she turns 21.
Unless the charge is very serious, a juvenile will be prosecuted in the juvenile criminal courts where it is important to have a criminal attorney experienced in the defense of juvenile criminal matters. This is especially true because juveniles are sometimes afforded extra protections under the law when it comes to questioning or searches.
The juvenile criminal justice system has a greater interest in rehabilitation than the adult system, and there are many services and options for a juvenile and his or her attorney to consider other than a juvenile prison facility.
In some very serious cases, the juvenile can be charged and sentenced as adults. These are called Youthful Offender or Serious Youthful Offender cases, and they involve charges such as murder and sexual crimes.
The Lawyers at McGraw & Strickland have handled many juvenile cases and have successfully kept clients out of the adult criminal system, found alternatives to incarceration, gotten cases dismissed, and litigated cases successfully.