Seattle Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney

Teen in hoodie walks down street with backpack

Jennifer Horwitz has over 25 years of experience achieving excellent results for her clients and their parents in juvenile criminal defense cases. Jennifer Horwitz, founder of Jennifer Horwitz Law, has a well-earned reputation for protecting the rights of young people facing criminal charges and for her integrated approach to representing juvenile clients accused of a crime. If you retain Jennifer Horwitz to handle a juvenile case, she will handle every aspect of the case herself.

A graduate of Harvard Law School, Jennifer has excellent communication skills that allow her to connect both with her juvenile clients and their parents. She has both litigation and negotiation experience, specifically in juvenile court and is known to both the Court and prosecutors. She has accomplished excellent outcomes in a number of complex juvenile criminal defense cases. She is dedicated not only to defending children, teenagers, and young adults but to identifying the underlying issues that may be related to the criminal accusation. Jennifer works with a team of experts who can address juvenile mental health, substance abuse and other issues that may be related to the juvenile’s case. Jennifer has experience representing children who identify as part of the LGBTQ community and she also has specific experience representing transgender clients.

Juvenile Criminal Defense Cases Require an Integrated Approach

Jennifer’s experience with juvenile offenders, and representing children in juvenile court gives her the expertise to achieve the best possible results in each case. She is equipped to help identify and address underlying issues that may have resulted in a criminal investigation or charges being initiated against your child. She has handled cases involving situations such as:

  • Addiction
  • Cognitive problems or learning disabilities
  • Family History of Abuse
  • Diagnosed and Undiagnosed Mental Health Problems
  • Bullying, Cyberbullying or Harassment Issues
  • Discrimination
  • Medical Issues Related to Behavior Issues

Charges Your Child May Be Facing

When it comes to the legal process, the same actions are considered crimes when committed by children or adults. In the state of Washington, children 12-years-old and older can be charged with any of the following:

  • Assault
  • Burglary
  • Domestic Violence
  • Drug charges (possession or sale)
  • Juvenile Sex Crimes
  • Malicious Mischief or Vandalism
  • Child Pornography and “sexting” cases
  • Shoplifting
  • Theft

Case Strategy and Goals

There are occasions in which a child under the age of 12 may be charged with a crime, but in such a case the prosecuting attorney must prove that the child is sufficiently mature to understand that he or she has committed a crime. Whatever your child’s age, Jennifer Horwitz will come up with the best possible strategy as your child’s juvenile criminal defense attorney, to address the charges and reach the best result for your child.

Whatever your child’s background or alleged crime, Jennifer Horwitz is committed to providing excellent legal representation with the goal of achieving the best possible results. She understands that your child’s future is at stake in facing a criminal accusation and she will accept nothing short of the best possible outcome to the case. She may be able to minimize the consequences for your child by:

  • Representing your child in the pre-charging (or investigation) phase of a case
  • Getting the charges dismissed
  • Keeping your child out of custody while the case is pending
  • Plea bargaining to a lesser offense or for a chance to keep the juvenile’s record clean
  • Preventing your child from facing juvenile court proceedings and/or juvenile detention
  • Getting your child into a treatment or diversion program
  • Obtaining a probationary sentence rather than a sentence of detention
  • Putting you and your child in touch with various experts and providers to address underlying issues
  • Addressing any pre-existing conditions like mental health issues or substance abuse
  • Keeping an arrest or conviction off your child’s permanent record

Jennifer Horwitz’s knowledge, experience, and professionalism will give you both confidence and calm as Jennifer guides you through what can be an overwhelming and stressful experience. Jennifer has connections with numerous experts and service providers in the region that may be able to meet your child’s needs. She also has comprehensive knowledge of both federal and state law.

Juvenile Law in Washington State

The Washington Juvenile Court System has evolved over the years, increasingly emphasizing rehabilitation over punishment. The orientation of the courts is toward trying to redirect juvenile offenders early in life so that they remain productive members of society, rather than continue on a course where they become adult offenders. For this reason, law enforcement, probation officials, prosecutors, and courts have a unique approach to juvenile criminal cases that make it more likely that a positive result can be reached for a young person who is accused of a crime.

In view of this approach, Gov. Jay Inslee signed legislation in 2018 designed to reform the juvenile justice system. The new law has taken three important steps:

  1. It gave prosecutors more discretion to retain certain offenders in juvenile court rather than automatically transferring those cases to the adult court system.
  2. It improves juvenile access to diversion programs.
  3. It allows juveniles convicted in adult court to stay in the state juvenile corrections system until they turn 25, rather than transferring them to adult prisons when they turn 21.

This new law continues to expand the rehabilitative aspect of juvenile justice in Washington and is designed to spare juveniles some of the harsher consequences that can follow from a conviction in adult court.

Resentencing for Young Adults- O’Dell and Light-Roth

There is also new case law in Washington State that recognizes that young adults, even those older than 17, are different than older adults because of their brain development and relative immaturity and impulsivity compared to adults. Courts have recently recognized in cases like O’Dell and Light-Roth that youthfulness is an important mitigating factor that should be considered by the Court in sentencing a young person for a crime. As a result of this recent shift in the law, many cases are being remanded for resentencing proceedings. If you have a case that has been remanded by a court for resentencing, Jennifer Horwitz Law is prepared to make the most of this opportunity and skillfully and forcefully advocate for a reduction from the original sentence.

Juveniles Have Constitutional Rights – School and Law Enforcement Investigations

It is important to be aware that minors have many of the same constitutional rights as adults. They must be advised of their Miranda rights and are entitled to have an attorney present before answering questions of law enforcement or prosecutors. However, teachers, counselors, and school administrators do not have to advise a student of her or his rights unless they are questioning the juvenile under police presence and direction. It is important to be aware that adults who question a child within the school setting may turn over information they obtain from a juvenile to law enforcement. This is why it can be important to engage an advocate like Jennifer Horwitz, even in the context of a school investigation, for something that may be a crime.

Juveniles being questioned by law enforcement are permitted to have their parents present during questioning, though the police are not required to advise the juvenile or parents of this. If a child asks for a parent or lawyer, however, he or she must be accommodated. It can be very difficult for a child to invoke their constitutional right to remain silent or have an attorney present during questioning without a parent present to assist them in asserting those rights. Parents can and should be present during law enforcement interrogations to assist their child in asserting those critically important rights.

Juveniles May Face Accusations in Adult Court for Serious Crimes- Decline Hearings

If a juvenile offender is charged with a serious felony, such as a violent crime or a sex crime, the juvenile court may “decline” to retain the case in juvenile court. As a result, the young person may face charges in adult court instead. Nonetheless, your child has a right to a “decline” hearing during which your criminal defense attorney can argue that there are compelling reasons to keep this case in juvenile court. These hearings can be the most critical moment in a juvenile case and the importance of having an experienced attorney by your side cannot be overstated. Jennifer Horwitz will fight hard at every stage of a juvenile case, including a decline hearing, to have all mitigating factors considered by the Court.

Why It Is Essential To Consult With a Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney Promptly

In Washington State, as well as throughout the country, experts agree that immediate intervention by an experienced criminal defense attorney like Jennifer Horwitz can make all the difference when your child is accused of a crime. Jennifer is dedicated to fighting for your child’s rights and protecting your child’s future. She may even be able to have your child’s conviction vacated, sealed or expunged so that it will never have to be disclosed on a college or job application or on military enlistment documents.

Getting an experienced, knowledgeable and compassionate attorney like Jennifer Horwitz involved at the earliest possible point in a criminal investigation or prosecution can lessen the stress of the situation and reduce long-term consequences. Retaining Jennifer Horwitz Law will provide you with a guide, an advocate and an ally. She will work tirelessly on your child’s behalf to ensure the best possible outcome for the case so your child can move forward with his or her life. Please do not hesitate to give our office a call or fill out the contact form to schedule a consultation.

Jennifer Horwitz represents juveniles in criminal defense cases in Seattle and all throughout Washington State and King County including Bellevue, Issaquah, and Sammamish.