Juvenile Defense

At Mashni Law Criminal Defense, we recognize the unique and complex challenges associated with juvenile criminal offenses in Kentucky. Juvenile charges not only affect the immediate legal standing of a young person but can also have profound implications for their future, impacting educational opportunities, employment prospects, and much more. Kentucky law treats juvenile offenses with a focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment, but navigating the juvenile justice system can still be a daunting and intricate process. Our legal team is committed to defending the rights and futures of young individuals who find themselves facing charges. We believe in fighting for a resolution that serves the best interest of the juvenile, aiming for outcomes that provide opportunities for growth and a second chance.

Facing a juvenile criminal charge is a critical moment that requires experienced legal counsel. Call our office or schedule a free case evaluation today, and discover how Mashni Law Criminal Defense can offer the comprehensive support and representation needed to protect your or your loved one's future.

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Juveniles in Kentucky are likely to commit of many of the same crimes that adults are commonly convicted of. The differences between adult and juvenile adjudication are in the manner in which the court treats an adult verses a juvenile defendant.  Thus, some common crimes of which juveniles are determined to be guilty include:  

  • Theft or larceny, including stealing personal property or shoplifting 
  • Vandalism
  • Drug abuse violation, including possessing, selling, or using illegal substances 
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Assault
  • Burglary
  • Motor vehicle theft 
  • Trespassing 
  • Arson 


In addition to offenses that are generally applicable to both adults and juveniles, there are also some offenses that are specifically applicable to only juveniles. These offenses include: 

  • Possession of a handgun by a juvenile 
  • Alcohol violations, such as underage drinking and possession of alcohol 
  • Truancy (child has been an habitual runaway from his parent or person exercising custodial control or supervision of the child) 


Child victims of human trafficking cannot be charged with or convicted of any status offense relating to human trafficking pursuant to KRS §630.125. 





Juvenile criminal procedure applies to those individuals typically under the age of (18) years old who are accused of committing a crime. The legal system strives to operate within a rehabilitative, rather than a punitive, role, including the input of social workers or psychologists more regularly than in adult adjudication. Court proceedings tend to be more private, and records are typically sealed. 

There are many procedural differences between adult criminal defense and juvenile criminal defense. The legislature and provided additional safeguards to juvenile defendants that are not provided to adult defendants. On the other hand, because of their minority, juveniles do not typically have all of the same rights and privileges as adults when it comes to protection against government searches, especially in the context of school.  Additionally, some statutes provide that juveniles be treated as adults if, when the juvenile committed the crime, certain circumstances were present. 

Kentucky Revised Statutes Chapter 600 contains the Unified Juvenile Code, which deals with all the statutes that are special proceedings relating to juvenile criminal defendants and other juvenile matters. KRS §610.070, for example, states that juvenile hearings are to be bench trials (that is, the judge acts as the trier of fact), and are to be conducted in a formal manner. 

Juveniles are generally not entitled to a jury trial unless they are tried as an adult in circuit court. A juvenile will be tried as an adult if a court finds probable cause that the child is (14) years old or older, a felony was committed, and that a firearm was used in the commission of the felony under KRS §635.020(4). 

There are many such examples, but one final example is very important, as parents will often be involved in their children’s path through the juvenile system. A parent or guardian and other family members must be advised of their right not to testify against the child, usually at arraignment, but not always. KRS §610.060. 




Human trafficking is defined in KRS §529.010. Human trafficking refers to criminal activity whereby (1) or more persons are subjected to engaging in: forced labor or services; or commercial sexual activity through the use of force, fraud, or coercion, except that if the trafficked person is under the age of (18), the commercial sexual activity need not involve force, fraud, or coercion. Victim of human trafficking is a person who has been subjected to human trafficking. 




Juveniles who have been determined to have committed the offense for which they were prosecuted may be sentenced to alternatives other than incarceration, although detention is an option for a juvenile offender. These alternatives can include counseling, community service, and participation in educational programs. 

While a juvenile case can be adjudicated, no adjudication by a juvenile session of the district court is to be deemed a conviction under KRS §635.040. also, no child shall be found guilty of deemed a criminal by reason of such a criminal adjudication. 

However, in the case where a minor is convicted of, or pleads guilty to, a felony offense in Circuit Court (i.e., where he was tried as an adult), he will be subject to the same type of sentencing procedures and duration of sentence, including probation and conditional discharge




School searches are one area in which caselaw shows that juveniles are afforded less protections from government searches than adults. This is due in part to the idea that public schools act “in loco parentis,” or in place of parents, when the children are in school. 

Procedural defenses are different in juvenile cases than in adult cases for this reason. Thus, Lamb v. Holmes tells us that there are three factors inform whether a search by school personnel invaded a juveniles rights not to be subject to an unreasonable search, which are different from those used to determine the same in adults – these are: the student’s legitimate expectation of privacy, the intrusiveness of the search, and the severity of the school system’s needs that were met by the search. 162 S.W.3d 902 (Ky. 2005). 


Some defenses do not apply to adjudications under the juvenile code. For example, infancy is not a defense. W.D.B. v. Commonwealth, 246 S.W.3d 448 (Ky. 2007). 






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