If your child or family member is facing a hearing in a Virginia juvenile court, it’s important that the child be aware of what he or she is walking in to. Far too often, I’ve been in juvenile court waiting for my case to be called only to see a child behave extremely inappropriately in juvenile court, which does serious damage to his or her case. So here’s a couple of tips:

Rules of Etiquette in Virginia Juvenile Court

Be on time. Look, going to juvenile court is going to be a time suck. You end up getting there and waiting for an hour or more just to be called. However, just like anywhere else, the one time you show up late is the one time you get called first. The best way to anger a juvenile court judge is to be late.

Dress appropriately. Perhaps I’m getting too old, but some of the things I see kids wear these days is striking. Low cut tops and short shorts, and the like. If a child is going to court, he or she better put that stuff away and get out some professional clothes. If he or she is not sure what that means, think of job interview clothing. We all know first impressions are key. Juvenile court is no exception. 

Treat the court with the respect that it deserves. The child’s friends may lead him or her to believe that juvenile court is different, and not as serious. But juvenile court is a court of law. It warrants respect, and if not show that respect, the child will be punished. This means make eye contact, speak directly to the court when asked a question, use formal language, and be polite and respectful. Even if the judge says something the child doesn’t like,the response should still be absolutely respectful. He or she can go home an complain to mom and dad later. But in front of the court, everything said must be polite. 

It’s ok to be nervous.  Judges hope that a child’s time in court is his or her first.  It’s natural to be nervous, and in many ways it demonstrates respect to the court. Take a deep breath, and relax. And listen to the judge. If you didn’t hear what was asked, simply ask the court to repeat itself. As long as the child is respectful, the court will usually be the same way. 

For parents, the court is looking at you. Whenever children face court proceedings, the judge will look to the parents to see what could have been done to prevent this. Look, kids will be kids despite the best of parenting. But sadly I’ve seen some parents show up and be completely disrespectful to the court. Don’t be that parent. So rules 1-4 apply to you as well.  

Speak to an attorney.  Kids have rights just like adults. There’s no reason why a child shouldn’t be advised of his or her rights before going into court. Juvenile offenses can have long term consequences. If you are going to Juvenile court, you can contact BenGlassLaw at (703)584-7277 to speak with an attorney about your case.

James S. Abrenio
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Focusing on criminal, traffic defense and personal injury cases
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