When a child or young adult runs into trouble with the law, they are too often judged by the authority figures in their life including teachers, parents, and other relatives. At Van Cleaf & McCormack Law Firm LLP, we understand that kids can go through a lot of different things that may cause them to act out or make poor choices, but it’s not our job to judge their situation. Our job is to make sure that it doesn’t negatively impact or damage their future.

If you are a minor facing criminal charges or the parent of a child who is facing criminal charges in Des Moines, it’s important that you reach out to an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to help you through your case. Our team can provide you with the legal services and support you need to move forward and put this chapter behind you.



How Do Juvenile Court Proceedings Differ from Adult Cases?

Juvenile law cases are handled similarly as criminal cases, but with a few key differences. In a juvenile court, the minor accused of a crime is "adjudicated" to be a delinquent rather than convicted of a crime (if found guilty).

After being recognized as an "adjudicated delinquent," the minor is not sentenced, but instead, he or she will receive a disposition to outline the penalty they will face for their delinquent act. Then the minor who is subject to a delinquency disposition is given a court-ordered rehabilitation plan which is not necessarily time-bound.

The objective in a juvenile case is to provide the minor with the services and support that will prevent future misconduct, and we can ensure that happens. In this type of case, there is no right to a jury trial. The court will decide between probation or placement, depending on the circumstances surrounding the charge.

Child in Need of Assistance Cases

In Iowa, there are 18 statutes that give the court legal grounds to adjudicate the minor as a Child in Need of Assistance (CINA). Sometimes, parents are under the agreement that their child is in need of services or out-of-home placement for the support they need. However, some of the common reasons a minor is formally judged as a CINA can include:

  • Physical abuse by a family or household member

  • Sexual abuse by a family or household member

  • The failure of a parent or custodian to properly supervise a child

  • Parental substance abuse

  • Mental health issues

  • Exposure to illegal drugs by a family or household member

If the court determines your child to be a CINA, you’ll need experienced legal counsel to help you navigate the system and ensure the rights of your child are protected.

Why Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney?

Even if the charge you’re facing is for a non-violent crime, having a mark on your criminal record can have a major impact on your future. Facing criminal charges is also likely to cause emotional distress, for the accused individual as well as their family, which is something we strive to alleviate with our compassionate counsel.

You don’t have to go through this alone, and shouldn’t leave the outcome of your case to chance. We want to provide you with the representation you need to secure the best possible outcome. Having our skilled legal advocacy in your corner will go a long way in reaching the fairest resolution to your case.


If your child has been charged with a crime, hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer could make a big difference for their future. At Van Cleaf & McCormack Law Firm LLP, we provide knowledgeable and sensitive juvenile law services and support to families. We are dedicated to helping young people who are facing criminal charges get their lives back on track. Contact our firm today for a free initial consultation.