Protecting Your Kid's Future: Experienced Juvenile Defense in Atlanta and Surrounding Areas

Facing juvenile charges can be a frightening and confusing experience for both your child and your family. At EHG Law Firm we understand the unique challenges involved in juvenile defense and are dedicated to protecting your child's rights and future.

Atlanta DUI Attorney

Juvenile Defense Guideline

Understanding Georgia’s Juvenile Justice System

Distinguished from the adult criminal justice system, Georgia’s approach to juvenile justice prioritizes rehabilitation over punishment. The focus lies on guiding young offenders towards constructive paths and aiding their integration into society as responsible individuals.

Contrasts Between Juvenile and Adult Justice Systems

In Georgia, individuals aged 17 and above facing criminal charges are subject to adult prosecution and corresponding penalties. However, the state’s juvenile justice system caters to those under 17, emphasizing a nuanced approach that balances punitive measures with rehabilitation efforts, shielding minors from the severity of adult criminal proceedings.

Potential Outcomes of Juvenile Cases

Potential outcomes of juvenile cases vary, with judges typically opting for dispositions that encourage rehabilitation. These may include probation, community service, participation in rehabilitation programs, restitution to victims, or even house arrest, with detention reserved as a last resort for severe cases.

The Importance of a Strong Defense Team

In navigating the legal complexities surrounding juvenile offenses, assembling a defense team comprising parents and attorneys proves crucial. Such a team can explore various options, from diversion programs to counseling, striving for the most favorable outcomes while safeguarding the child’s future prospects.

Special Consideration for Juvenile Traffic Cases

Juvenile traffic cases receive special attention under Georgia law, with separate proceedings aimed at avoiding trivialization of potential consequences. Despite their informal nature, these cases demand serious consideration, as they can carry significant repercussions.

Protecting Rights Through Early Legal Intervention

Prioritizing your rights under Georgia law, engaging a qualified criminal defense lawyer early in the process becomes imperative. Whether your child faces charges for a traffic offense or a delinquency case, swift action can mitigate adverse outcomes and ensure fair treatment within the legal system.

Advocating for Fair Treatment and Outcomes

With a commitment to defending innocence and advocating for fair punishment, legal professionals stand ready to guide families through the complexities of juvenile justice, offering clarity on rights and asserting them vigorously to secure the best possible outcomes.

Collateral Consequences

If a child or teen is charged with a crime, there can be consequences outside of the justice system. It’s important for families of teens charged with crimes consider school implications. In many jurisdictions, schools will seek to suspend or expel students who are charged with a crime. It can help to have an attorney negotiate and communicate with the school principal and superintendent at the school board level. An attorney can also be a resource for conversations and disclosures to sports teams, non-profits / volunteer organizations, religious groups or a teen’s employer.


  • What is the Filing of the Complaint?

    The complaint is like the starting point for a case involving a child brought to court. It outlines what happened and why the child is there. It can be filed by the police or by someone else. This is usually the first thing submitted in a case and kicks off all the following steps in the legal process.

  • What is a Detention Hearing?

    When a child under 17 is arrested and held by law enforcement, the officer must follow specific steps by law. They can either release the child to their parents, take them to a hospital if they need immediate medical attention, or contact a juvenile intake officer. If they contact a juvenile intake officer, that officer uses a set of criteria called a Detention Assessment to decide if the child should be kept in custody or released to their parents.

    According to Georgia law, if a child is taken into custody, the Juvenile Court must hold a detention hearing within 5 days if there was an arrest warrant, or within 2 days if there wasn’t.

  • What are the controlling factors when determining whether to release the child to their parents?

    Whether the child has shown a pattern of theft or property destruction and assessing if the child is likely to flee. Additionally, determining if the child poses a threat to others is crucial in this decision-making process. These factors are outlined in O.C.G.A. § 15-11-503.

  • Where would a child be detained?

    Placement options for a child may include a licensed foster home, a court-approved home (which can be public or private), the home of a relative, a facility run by a licensed child welfare agency, or a secure residential facility. 

  • What is the Filing of the Petition?

    The petition in Georgia Juvenile Courts serves as the formal charging document, detailing the allegations against the child. If the child is detained, the petition must be filed within 72 hours after the detention hearing, or the child must be released. For non-detained cases, the petition must be filed within 30 days after the complaint or the child’s release following a detention hearing. It must include specific information such as the child’s details, reasons for court jurisdiction, and, if applicable, the detention location.

  • What happens at the arraignment?

    During the arraignment, the court informs the child about the details of the delinquency petition, the nature of the proceedings, potential consequences or dispositions following adjudication, and the child’s due process rights, as outlined in O.C.G.A. § 15-11-511. If the child is not detained, the arraignment must take place within 30 days of petition filing. However, if the child is detained, no arraignment occurs due to the expedited adjudicatory hearing process. 

Schedule a call with Erin

The EHG legal team, based in Atlanta, is well-equipped to handle a wide range of Juvenile charges in various counties across the metro-Atlanta area, including Fulton, Cherokee, Cobb, Gwinnett, DeKalb, and Clayton. The team is known for its frequent appearances in court and its successful track record in these cases.

In addition to her role on the Faculty of the National College for DUI Defense, Erin Gerstenzang has extensive experience and leadership in the field of DUI defense. She has served as the Chair of the Georgia Public Defender Council’s DUI Trial Strategies Annual Program for seven consecutive years, and is currently on the Executive Board of the Georgia Association for Criminal Defense Attorneys, where she also chairs the Judicial Recommendation Committee.

Schedule a call with Attorney Erin Gerstenzang

When you’re child is facing a Juvenile delinquency charge, you can rely on Defense Attorney Erin Gerstenzang. Contact our offices today to discuss your case.

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