There are two areas of Juvenile law in Tennessee: Criminal Juvenile and Dependency and Neglect. In criminal Juvenile, a person under the age of eighteen (18) is charged with a crime and declared unruly or delinquent. Delinquent just merely means the criminal acts of minors. Juvenile law has its own set of rules than that of adult criminal court.
Dependency and Neglect
The second major area of Juvenile law is the area where the Department of Children Services or DCS is usually involved. This area is more geared towards the parent of the Juvenile than the Juvenile themselves. When a parent abandons, neglects, commits child abuse, has an unsafe environment (such as a house where illegal drugs are used) or fails to financially or physically provide support toward their child, DCS is usually called and removes the child from the unsafe or unstable environment and files a Petition for Dependency and Neglect against the parents. There are many steps to take for a parent to take to get their children back so it is important that they obtain a well experienced attorney to represent them in the Dependency and Neglect proceeding.
Delinquent and Unruly
An unruly child means a child who is habitually and without justification truant from school; is habitually disobedient of the reasonable and lawful commands of his or her parents, guardian, or other custodian and is ungovernable; has committed an offense only applicable to a child; deserts his or her home; wanders or loiters about the streets between the hours of 12:00 Midnight and 5:00 A.M.; patronizes a bar; possesses alcoholic beverages; disobeys the terms of supervision contained in a court order; commits a delinquent act, and is in need of supervision, treatment, or rehabilitation. In either scenario a juvenile who is charged with delinquency or unruly may receive a sentence involving community service, rehab, or even time spent in the Juvenile Detention. Depending on the severity of the case a juvenile could be tried as an adult in criminal court. Therefore, it is important to obtain an attorney with experience in the area of Juvenile law.
This is intended as general information and does not constitute legal advice. Laws change frequently, so you should do further research or consult with a lawyer before relying on this information.