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Juveniles Charged With Sex Offenses: Our Approach

Representing minors accused of sexual crimes in juvenile courts can be very challenging. Every youth is an individual, and each requires a unique approach. Getting them to trust their attorney, and to understand their situation, requires time and a lot of listening. Building that trust, and that relationship, is at the heart of how we help our youthful clients in these difficult times. At the Meryhew Law Group we believe in taking the time it takes to truly hear and understand our youthful clients, so that we are able to advocate for the best outcomes for them as individuals.

One thing is clear, children are different from adults in profound ways that sometimes lead them to commit crimes. Often without even thinking of the consequences to themselves or others. They are impulsive. They live in a world where they first see porn on their phone or a friend’s phone when they are in elementary school. Today’s kids grow up with sexual imagery and themes easily available to them at younger and younger ages. No matter how closely they are watched by their parents, the schools, or any other parental installed monitors. What they can’t find on their own phones they can always find on their friend’s phone, an Xbox, an iPad, or any of a number of Internet enabled devices. This is a reality that parents and guardians must face and learn to navigate before disaster strikes and their child and other children or adults are hurt.

The Meryhew Law Group, PLLC has been a leader in the Washington legal community in defending juveniles charged with sex offenses. Brad Meryhew has spoken at multiple state and national conferences to teach his approach to representing juveniles accused of sex offenses to other attorneys. Brad recently authored a book chapter on Representing Juveniles Charged with Sex Offenses; Leading Lawyers on Examining Recent Trends in Juvenile Law and Building a Successful Defense, available at (Amazon.com).

At The Meryhew Law Group, our sex crime attorney is experienced at working with juveniles charged with sex crimes and their families. We believe that a good decision by a child often requires that their parents be involved. Our lawyers work to make sure that everyone understands the process and that we answer any question you or your child may have.

Juvenile Sex Offenses Attorney in Washington

The Investigation Phase of a Case is Critical

If your child is facing allegations of a juvenile sex crime in Seattle or in any other city in western Washington, you need the help of a competent and experienced juvenile sex crimes lawyer immediately to protect your child from potentially lifelong consequences. If you learn that your child is being accused of a sexual offense the time to act to protect their interests is now. If an allegation is new and an investigation has just begun, our juvenile sex offenses attorney can help to protect your child’s rights during the CPS investigation, as well as during any police investigations. Critical mistakes can be made in the early stages of an investigation that turn out to hurt the child and their family without experienced legal guidance. Don’t wait until juvenile sex crimes charges are filed to get a juvenile sex offense defense attorney involved.

Cell Phones and Nude Photos

In recent years more and more minors are being charged with distributing and receiving child pornography after sending nude photos of themselves to some of their friends. At the Meryhew Law Group we have extensive experience working with youth who are charged with offenses related to their searching for, viewing, downloading, and distributing what is known as “child pornography.” In Washington, however, the law recognizes that juveniles are different, and these offenses are often not charged as sex offenses. (Child Pornography Defense: Juvenile Offenders).

Washington Sex Offender Registration

Juvenile offenders in Washington must register with local law enforcement as sex offenders until a Court removes that requirement. Typically, the law requires a youth register for from two to five years before they are eligible to end the duty to register. The law has been changed over the years to slowly make it easier to get off of the sex offender registration roles for juveniles, but more remains to be done as Washington continues to have a harsh system of registration for virtually every sexual offense regardless of the age of the juvenile at the time. The Meryhew Law Group has played a leading role in battling against sex offender registration for juvenile court cases. Brad Meryhew supported as Chair of the Board a strong and unanimous recommendation from the Washington Sex Offender Policy Board in 2021 to extinguish all sex offender registration for individuals who were 14 or younger at the time of their offense. Brad and the Sex Offender Policy Board have been recommending significant changes to the juvenile sex offender registration laws since 2009 and the work continues.

Psychological Evaluations for Child Sex Crimes

When a child admits to sexual misconduct the big question that is always asked is Why did this child do this? Prosecutors want to understand so they know what solution best protects the community and protects the minor child who committed the crime. A Judge and Probation want to know the same things, and what makes the child tick. The most commonly used tool for that assessment is the Psychosexual Evaluation. The psychosexual evaluation is both a psychological assessment and diagnosis, as well as an assessment of sexual behaviors and risk. A psychological evaluation of a child charged with sexual misconduct can be an opportunity to demonstrate the good qualities of the child, or it can set the child up for severe consequences. A favorable and credible psychosexual evaluation is often the key to obtaining a favorable resolution of a sexual allegation.

At The Meryhew Law Group, our juvenile sex crime attorney work with some of the best certified sex offender treatment evaluators in the State of Washington. Choosing the right evaluator for a particular child requires an understanding of their challenges and their needs. We take the time to work with the child before the evaluation so that they are fully prepared to participate in this invasive and challenging process. We go through all of the topics that will be discussed and get our clients ready to answer these difficult questions directly and honestly. Our attorney is committed to taking whatever time is necessary to ensure that our client understands the process and is prepared to fully participate in the evaluation. Brad Meryhew has developed a method for preparing his clients for the psychosexual evaluation that is explained here.

Juvenile Sex Offense Sentencing Alternatives

Washington law recognizes that for many youths who commit sex offenses the best solution to correct that behavior is some structure in the youth’s life and some intensive specialized outpatient treatment. Incarceration is not helpful to most kids, and community based treatment is a very successful outcome for the youth and the community. This treatment alternative for juveniles in Washington Courts is known as the Special Sexual Offender Dispositional Alternative (SSODA). In order to qualify for the treatment alternative a juvenile must be evaluated by a state certified sex offender treatment provider and evaluator and found to be willing to admit to sexual misconduct. The juvenile must be interested in receiving specialized treatment, and be a low risk to the community. A juvenile given this sentencing alternative remains in the community and participates in treatment for up to two years. When the youth successfully completes the SSODA sentence their duty to register as a sex offender is also removed. And then Washington law allows for the record of conviction to eventually be sealed. A youth who goes through this program truly has a chance to go forward without a permanent mark on their public record. At the Meryhew Law Group we have successfully gotten our client’s records of conviction for juvenile sex offenses sealed in many, many cases, the ultimate goal when representing a young person.

Contacting a Juvenile Sex Crime Defense Lawyer

If your child or another child you care about has been accused of a juvenile sex crime, it is essential to find representation from a child sex crime attorney that has the experience in the state of Washington to help you and/or your child with the case. Call our Seattle, Washington Sex Crime Defense Firm at 206-264-1590 for a free consultation or send us an e-mail with a brief description of your situation and concerns.

Client Reviews

Just so you all know this man is a GOD sent and has my complete blessing and gratitude. [Brad] is one of the most honest and forthright human beings that I have ever met...and he saved my life.


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