Stevens DiRado and Caviness: Your Juvenile Defense Attorney Knoxville TN 

Are you facing juvenile charges? Contact Stephens, DiRado & Caviness, LLP in Knoxville, TN, who are ready to assist in your juvenile defense.

Juvenile Defense Lawyer Knoxville TN

When police arrest a minor for a crime, their prosecution and correction are handled by Knoxville juvenile court. The juvenile court is responsible for holding young offenders accountable and rehabilitating them. The rules and procedures that regulate juvenile offenders vary from those of the adult criminal system.

Although the juvenile justice system tends to be more lenient, the process and potential consequences can be traumatizing to your child and the entire family.

Juvenile defense attorneys offer legal counsel to young offenders to give them a chance to fight for their freedom. The task at hand is to convince the judge that juveniles deserve a chance to correct their mistakes rather than being imprisoned for many years.

There are also different considerations when defending a child against criminal charges, such as the academic impact of the charges or the possibility of the Department of Children’s Service (DCS) getting involved.

Most Common Juvenile Offenses

Crimes committed by juveniles vary from minor offenses to serious felonies. The following are some of the most common juvenile offenses:

  • Theft

  • Driving under the influence or drunk driving

  • Assault

  • Murder

  • Drug offenses

  • Disorderly conduct

  • Possession of a weapon

  • Arson

  • Sexual offenses

  • Vehicular homicide

  • Vandalism

If an officer arrests your child, it’s imperative that they remain silent and request a lawyer.

Although the juvenile court seals your child’s record, their freedom may be hanging in the balance. If the child talks to the officers without a lawyer, they may implicate themselves. The prosecutors can use this information as evidence to show that your child deserves severe punishment.

Punishments For Convicted Juveniles in Knoxville TN

Although young people commit crimes, they are usually at a point in life where they can positively change. The juvenile justice system focuses more on rehabilitation, restoration, and correction in order to put these young offenders in the right direction. Therefore when a juvenile offender receives a guilty verdict for a crime, the punishment is not typically severe.

Nonetheless, in serious crimes such as vehicular manslaughter, rape, and robbery with violence, the punishment may increase significantly. Here are the most common penalties for convicted juveniles:

  • License suspension

  • Jail time in a juvenile correctional facility

  • Paying fines and restitution

  • Probation

  • House arrest or confinement

  • Community service

Hiring an experienced lawyer would be highly beneficial to offer your child a chance to fight against the charges. An attorney who understands the juvenile system can help you and your family navigate it.

How Does the Juvenile Criminal Justice System Work?

A juvenile can generally be charged with the same misdemeanor or felony charges as an adult. If a child is charged with a petition alleging violations of the law, the judge must determine whether the child will be held in custody immediately after the arrest. The presumption in the juvenile justice system is that a child should not be held in custody pending the case’s outcome. However, there are specific categories of charges for which a juvenile can be held in custody.

If the judge decides that the child should be held in custody, a detention hearing will take place within seventy-two hours of the child’s arrest. There are two important aspects of this hearing. First, the judge will decide whether there’s probable cause that the child committed the alleged offense. Second, the judge will decide whether continued incarceration is justified.

Age Restrictions in Tennessee’s Juvenile Justice System

While the juvenile law in Tennessee considers a juvenile every individual under the age of 18, it does not have a lower age limit below which children cannot be processed in courts.

However, children under 14 years old cannot be prosecuted as adults. At 14 and older, juveniles can be tried as adults if the prosecution requests and convinces the judge to do so. However, this only happens in cases of serious crimes, such as:

  • Rape
  • Aggravated robbery
  • Aggravated kidnapping
  • First and second-degree murder

If the court decides to charge your child as an adult, they will transfer them to the Department of Corrections.

Juvenile Cases Being Transferred to Adult Court


Although unique rules apply to the juvenile court and convictions, the prosecution may attempt to have a child charged as an adult. In general, the State may seek to “transfer” a juvenile case to adult court for children closer to their eighteenth birthday – though for more serious offenses (typically violent crimes), children as young as fourteen years old may be transferred.

The transfer of a child’s case to an adult court has serious consequences. Any punishment imposed in juvenile court cannot last beyond the child’s nineteenth birthday. If tried as an adult, any punishment can be imposed without that limitation, and the length of the potential sentence the child faces will significantly increase. 

While juvenile records are sealed, a conviction in adult court is not. Additionally, if the child is in custody when the case is transferred, they would be removed from the juvenile detention facility and housed in the local adult jail.

If the prosecution intends to try a child as an adult, it must first file a transfer notice with the court. The judge will hold a hearing to consider several factors, including the nature of the allegations and the child’s ability to rehabilitate in a juvenile court.

The juvenile defense attorneys at Stephens, DiRado & Caviness, LLP will assess whether there is a risk that the prosecutor may seek to transfer your child’s case to criminal court. We can present all evidence and legal arguments for why the case should remain in juvenile court.

Fighting the case includes presenting evidence of why your child is not guilty of the charges, raising legal problems with the State’s case, or convincing the judge that your child deserves another chance.

What to Do if Your Child Is Arrested for a Crime in Knoxville, TN

We know that as traumatic as the criminal justice system can be for an adult, the process is scarier for a child.

If your child is under investigation for or charged with a sexual crime, please act quickly to consult with an experienced attorney. Cases of this nature are emotionally charged; even a false allegation is taken seriously and will escalate quickly. Law enforcement officers will frequently attempt to interview you when they learn of an allegation of a sexual offense, and they will use all tactics they have to incriminate the suspect.

If you are contacted by an officer about a sexual offense, you should exercise your rights to remain silent and consult with a criminal defense attorney. Contact Stephens, DiRado & Caviness, LLP’s attorneys as quickly as possible to discuss your case and possible solutions.

How Can Stephens DiRado and Caviness LLP Help Your Child

Having an experienced juvenile defense attorney present on the child’s behalf at all stages of a juvenile case is critical. At the detention hearing, we can present evidence about the child’s background and family support to show the judge that better options are available than keeping the child in custody.

After these initial proceedings, we can investigate the case and advocate for your child to achieve a favorable outcome. There are options available to juveniles, such as juvenile diversion that avoid a permanent conviction and allow juvenile court records to remain sealed. The attorneys at Stephens, DiRado & Caviness, L.L.P. are dedicated to protecting your child’s future and enabling your family to put this situation behind.

If You Still Have Questions, Feel Free to Contact Stephens DiRado and Caviness LLP

If your child has been charged with a criminal offense, contact the experienced juvenile defense attorneys at Stephens, DiRado & Caviness, LLP today for a complimentary consultation so that we can protect your child’s future.

We offer a confidential consultation to discuss the charges facing your child. Once we take on your case, our attorneys give it their full attention and offer your child the aggressive representation they deserve.

Your child’s rights and freedom may be at stake. It is critical to contact us as soon as your child is arrested so that we can be with them at each step of the proceedings.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Role of Defense Counsel in Juvenile Court?

Juvenile defense lawyers are supposed to provide the client with legal counsel and information about various aspects of their case. Besides representing you in court, your legal team advises you about approaching various legal proceedings, such as accepting a plea deal or community service.

What Is the Age of Criminal Responsibility in Tennessee?

The age of criminal responsibility is 18. As a result, if you are arrested after the age of 18, you will not be prosecuted in juvenile court. Instead, you will be charged as an adult. If the judge sentences you, you will be incarcerated in an adult prison.

What Is the Most Common Juvenile Sentence?

Probation is the most common juvenile sentence, allowing them to rethink their decisions and take a different path. However, the Tennessee juvenile justice system may require the juvenile to spend time in jail or a correctional facility for severe crimes.

How Can Our Juvenile Lawyers Help

At the beginning stages of your child’s case, the juvenile defense attorneys at Stephens, DiRado & Caviness, LLP will be focused on whether there is a risk that the prosecutor may seek to transfer the case to criminal court. The attorneys will focus their efforts on presenting all evidence and legal arguments for why the case should remain in juvenile court. Fighting the case includes presenting evidence of why your child is not guilty of the charges, raising legal problems with the State’s case, or convincing the judge why your child deserves another chance.

If your child has been charged with a juvenile crime, contact the experienced juvenile defense attorneys at Stephens, DiRado & Caviness, LLP today for a complimentary consultation so that we can protect your child’s future.

Contact Form