One important thing to remember is that the juvenile justice system can be an effective tool for getting a child needed help. When a minor is suspected of committing juvenile crimes, the police officer who makes the discovery might be able to warn the minor about his or her actions or turn the minor over to his or her parents after alerting them of the problem. If neither of those is possible or probable, the case is referred to the juvenile court officer.
In most cases, children who are under 7 years old can't, and won't, be tried in the juvenile courts. Older children, primarily those who are 12 to 18 years old, will go through the juvenile justice system as long as the crime isn't one serious enough to warrant adult charges. If a child has charges that serious, seeking immediate legal help is often necessary to try to fight that decision.
If the child is referred to the juvenile justice system, it is then up to a court officer to determine how the case will proceed. The child might have to face formal charges, the charges might be dismissed or the case might be handled off the record. Understanding how each of these affects the child is vital for parents and child, so representation is crucial at this point.
All parents want to help their children. For parents who have children going through the criminal justice system, that sometimes means asking for help yourself.
Source: FindLaw, "Minor Crime Is a Major Ordeal" Oct. 05, 2014