What is Juvenile Law?

Atlanta, Georgia Juvenile Delinquency and Juvenile Defense Lawyer



According to the American Civil Liberties Union, approximately 60,000 children are incarcerated in prisons or some juvenile detention facility throughout American every day!  In Georgia alone, there are 185 per 100,000 youth incarcerated.

Juveniles constitute 1,200 of the 1.5 million people housed in federal and state prisons in this country, and nearly 200,000 youth enter the adult criminal-justice system each year, most for non-violent crimes. On any given day, 10,000 juveniles are housed in adult prisons and jails.

Our criminal justice system is broken, and cutting kids and children off from family, their education, exacerbating trauma, violence, and additional harm, has lifelong negative consequences.




Georgia, like every state, has established a juvenile court proceeding to deal with children or minors who have been charged under a criminal or delinquency statute.  Many juvenile cases begin when a child is charged with a crime by a prosecutor who files a civil complaint against the child in juvenile court. Juveniles are often charged with Delinquency, meaning that instead of being charged with a crime, they are being charged with committing a delinquent act.  Please note, that in Georgia, juveniles can also face criminal charges in Superior Court.

Juvenile courts have wide ranging powers of detention and control over your child.  For instance, a child charged with delinquency in Georgia is not entitled to a jury trial.  Your child is not even entitled to bail as an adult offender would be entitled.  A juvenile court judge may impose many different types of confinement and restrictions on your child, or even detain the child until a full trial has been held.

Juvenile courts in Georgia have jurisdiction over a child usually until the child turns 117.  Meaning a child is determined to be 17 or younger, they would be subject to the juvenile court proceedings in Atlanta, and throughout Georgia.



A juvenile criminal defense lawyer is a lawyer who is focused and experienced in helping children who have been charged with delinquency or are otherwise subject to the jurisdiction of a Georgia juvenile court proceeding.  The juvenile justice system and juvenile court criminal proceedings are different from traditional adult criminal defense proceedings.

A good juvenile defense lawyer is experienced, and knows the juvenile delinquency process, and the possible significant consequences your child is facing with an Atlanta juvenile delinquency charge. Many criminal defense attorneys are not familiar, or do not frequently defend youth charged with a delinquency or a juvenile criminal charge.  Thus, it is imperative that you hire a Georgia juvenile defense attorney that is experienced and focused on helping your family through this emotional and intense time.  Atlanta Criminal Defense Attorney, Tom Nagel is an experienced juvenile defense lawyer who has successfully handled juvenile criminal delinquency and juvenile criminal cases for nearly 30 years.  Attorney Tom has been recognized as a Top Rated Lawyer in Georgia.


Dear Thomas,

Thank you so much for doing such a great job for our daughter. We are very happy with the results of her case. Best wishes, R.W.

P.S. Thank you also for helping our friend get his case dismissed!




A juvenile court hears cases involving minors under the age of 18.  These cases can be narrowed down to several categories:

  1. Delinquency Cases: A juvenile dependency case is any case that a child could have been charged under if he or she was an adult or may be determined by a juvenile court judge as a minor in need of supervision.
  2. Dependency Cases: These are normally cases where a minor is having significant issues at home with a parent or guardian who is either abusing the child, a threat to the child, or where parents or guardians are not caring for the child’s needs, or making them adhere to rules, like going to school, etc.
  3. Sometimes called Status Cases: These cases in juvenile court are cases that only apply to minors such as truancy, running away from home, underage drinking and the like.


Some of the most common cases heard in juvenile courts are theft, simple assault, drug abuse, disorderly conduct, and curfew violations, according to the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. In an average year, only about 3% of cases heard in juvenile court involved violent offenses like robbery, rape, murder, and aggravated assault.



  • Larceny/theft
  • Shoplifting
  • Illegal Purchases
  • Child in Need of Services could include: Running away from home, truancy, loitering between Midnight and Five AM in the morning, Being in a bar without a guardian, and the like
  • Drug Charges
  • Traffic Offenses
  • DUI Charges
  • Gang Activity
  • Kidnapping
  • Home Invasion
  • Burglary
  • Attempted Murder
  • Armed Robbery
  • Battery
  • Aggravated Battery
  • Sex Offenses
  • Any Action that would be a felony if the child was charged as an adult



Consequences for your child being adjudicated delinquent or convicted of a crime in a juvenile case in Atlanta and throughout Georgia can be significant.  The judge in juvenile cases has wide discretion in possible punishments.  The penalties your child may face could be expansive:

  • Confinement in a juvenile detention facility
  • Home confinement
  • Probation
  • Registration as a Sex Offender
  • Curfews
  • Drug/Alcohol testing
  • Anything else the judge determines is in the best interest of the child


A juvenile can lose their ability to join the military, get a future security clearance, lose scholarships and/or financial aid for college or even be denied admission into a college.  An adjudication of dependency, delinquency or otherwise in juvenile court can have significant long-term consequences for your child and your family.


Remember, if your child has been charged, or is under investigation for a crime of any kind, please contact an experienced Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyer who focuses their practice on juvenile delinquency and criminal defense.  It is imperative that you speak with an attorney immediately.  Literally, your child’s future is a stake.


Never speak with anyone about your child’s alleged criminal or dependency conduct without first speaking to an Atlanta Criminal Lawyer who has experience in defending clients through the juvenile court criminal process. This includes teachers or principles, school resource officers, DHR, probation officers, police officers, friends, possible co-defendant or their parents, or anyone else.

If you find yourself in need, please don’t hesitate to call attorney Thomas Nagel, at 404-255-1600!

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