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Juvenile Court

As a presiding judge in adult District Courts for 17 years, Doug has worked with dozens of attorneys and Assistant District Attorneys who all started their careers in Juvenile Court. Prior to his judgeship, Doug prosecuted and represented dozens of juveniles in criminal matters in clerks’ hearings and formal courtroom settings. As Doug explains…

“The law was recently changed to expand jurisdiction of juveniles from at 17 to age 18.

Although juvenile charges and/or arrests are not considered to be an adult record, all Judges and other entities have access to juvenile matters. It is in the best interests of any child and his/her family to attempt to protect that child’s criminal history.

Doug Stoddart Attorney Lawyer MassachusettsThe juvenile judicial system does have due process safeguards, and all juveniles and their families should avail themselves of these rights.

First, if the police did not witness the alleged offense, the juvenile will be given notice of a clerk’s hearing. It is important for the juvenile and family to retain an experienced lawyer for that event, as the juvenile and his/her family will be confronted by a police prosecutor who is seeking to have the Clerk issue formal charges to the Juvenile Court. The Clerk does have greater discretion than Judges in disposition of cases, as Clerks have some obligation to assist the full court in reducing court congestion and, most importantly, Clerks have been entrusted to use good, common sense in attempting to find dispositions that may serve justice without the need for formal charges.

I have spent 38 years in the judicial system. I am familiar with what Clerks can and cannot do, how they expect cases and evidence to be presented and to what degree they can terminate cases without a charge appearing on a CORI registry.

In the event that a clerk issues formal charges, or if the juvenile was arrested by the police initially, every juvenile has the right to a jury trial. Since the juvenile will be prosecuted by an experienced Assistant District Attorney, the juvenile and his/her family need a lawyer who can successfully obtain pre-trial discovery, interview and prepare witnesses for direct and cross-examination, hire experts if necessary and substantially increase the probabilities of a successful  disposition or verdict.

Finally, if any juvenile has any prior juvenile history, I can take certain legal actions to seal a juvenile record. No juvenile should unnecessarily have to carry a juvenile record through adulthood.”

Doug can be reached anytime at (508) 243-4877, by email at, or at his office at 8E Pleasant Street, 2nd Floor, South Natick, MA.

Decades of experience in civil litigation and criminal defense in Eastern Massachusetts.

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