As parents, the attorneys at Vinson & Coffinberry understand that your children are the most important and cherished people in your life. We will work diligently to help you protect them and raise them in a manner that is in their best interests.

Dependency & Neglect

Many people think that the only reason for courts to get involved with parents’ right to raise their children is when there is obvious physical abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect. However, the standard for dependency and neglect includes much more than that. Once a child is considered dependent and neglected, a court can determine custody arrangements that would be in the best interest of the child and may place the child with a relative or non-relative who petitions for custody, or in foster care.

In Tennessee, a dependent and neglected child includes the following: a child without a parent or guardian; a child whose parent, guardian, or person the child lives with is unfit to care for the child due to cruelty, mental incapacity, immorality or depravity; a child who is under improper care or supervision by any person, agency, or organization; a child who is unlawfully kept out of school; a child whose parent or guardian neglects or refuses to provide necessary medical care for the child; a child, who because of a lack of supervision, is found anywhere that is unlawful; any child who is under improper care which would lead to injury or would endanger the morals or health of the child or others; a child who is suffering from abuse or neglect; a child who has been allowed to engage in prostitution or obscene photographing and whose parent fails to protect the child from further activities; a child willfully left in the sole financial and physical care of a relative for more than 18 months, and the removal of the child from the care of the relative would result in substantial harm to the child. Tennessee Code Annotated §37-1-102(b)(12).

Juvenile Delinquency

A juvenile is an individual that is too young to be held legally responsible for criminal acts. Juvenile crime accounts for almost a quarter of all violent crimes nationwide. The effect on family and loved ones can be enormous when a young person that they care about is charged with a juvenile offense. Our attorneys have successfully represented youth and gain deep satisfaction in making a difference in a young person's life.

The juvenile court system in Tennessee is very different than adult court. Juvenile courts aim to deal with "delinquency," the term used to describe the criminal acts of minors. The goals of the juvenile court are focused on rehabilitation of the youth rather than on punishment. However, depending on the severity of the case and the age of the child, the defendant may transferred to adult court and be tried as an adult. Don't put the future of a young person's life in the hands of an inexperienced attorney.

Because juvenile court has its own rules and procedures, it is very important that a qualified juvenile delinquency attorney's services are obtained. The attorneys at Vinson & Coffinberry have the necessary juvenile court experience to properly try and resolve these types of cases.

Juvenile Cases Can Be Complex and May Involve:

  • Status Offenses - offenses that are only considered illegal because of the violator's age, such as curfew violations or under age drinking.
  • Drugs, violent crime, or DUI.

Juveniles can face any of the following consequences for their offenses:

  • Fines
  • State's Custody
  • Probation
  • Community Service
  • Imprisonment if the  youth is transferred to adult court.

Frequently juveniles and their families may benefit from placement of family support services in the home as well.