In Minnesota, most children who are charged with crimes go through juvenile court rather than adult criminal court. Before a juvenile court judge will accept a guilty plea from minor defendants, the judge will first advise them and make certain that they understands their rights and what could happen if the court accepts the plea.
A guilty plea waives a child’s right to contest the charges at trial. When juveniles enter a guilty plea, they are admitting that there are facts to support the basis for the charge to which they are pleading guilty. They also waive the rights to be presumed innocent, to hear witnesses who are called to testify against the child, to remain silent and to call witnesses to testify on their behalf.
Judges will make certain that children understand that they have the right to counsel. If a child pleads guilty, the court may sentence the child up to the maximum allowed by the charge, including placement in an institution. The disposition could last up until the child reaches the age of 19, and any disposition could be modified by the court up until the child reaches age 19.
Minors who are charged with juvenile crimes might want to talk to a criminal defense attorney who has experience with these types of cases. Legal counsel can advise the client regarding the advisability of accepting a plea offer. The attorney may also explain to the client what the potential consequences of a guilty plea could be, including a future impact on sentencing if the minor is later convicted of an adult crime. Since no two cases are alike, this is not to be construed as legal advice.