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California Juvenile Attorney

Get Your Child the Legal Representation They Deserve to Avoid or Reduce The Impact Of An Arrest

It’s one of the worst feelings in the world, getting a call from your child that the police have just detained them for committing a criminal offense. As a parent, what do you do next? How do you ensure your child is treated fairly by the court system, and how do you protect their rights and future? The first step is to call a criminal defense attorney well-versed in juvenile defense.

The juvenile justice system differs substantially from the adult justice system in California. This is why it is critical that you hire an attorney who is experienced with the juvenile justice system. My Rights Law stands ready to help you and your child. Our experienced juvenile defense lawyers will guide you through the juvenile court system process.

Purpose Of The Juvenile Justice System

The main goal of California’s juvenile justice system is to promote the safety of both the youth involved and the public by offering treatment and rehabilitation options for youth offenders. This goal differs from the goal of the adult justice system, where the goal is to punish and deter criminal conduct. The juvenile justice system has numerous treatment options and programs which may be available based on the offense committed and the background of the youth offender. These treatment options include – informal probation, formal probation, detention, and incarceration. The treatment option will be selected through the juvenile justice process.

Juvenile Justice Process

After the arrest of a juvenile offender, the arresting law enforcement officer can either release the juvenile offender to their parents or take the offender to what is known as juvenile hall. The county probation department is responsible for maintaining juvenile halls and can either “book” the offender or not. Many juvenile halls are overcrowded in California, so typically, only the most violent offenders are “booked” while the others are sent away.

Once the offender is “booked,” the probation department or the district attorney can either file a petition with the juvenile court or request that the juvenile is “remanded” to the adult court if the juvenile is not to be tried as a juvenile. This determination is usually made based on the severity of the crime and the age of the juvenile. A juvenile defense attorney can help guide you through the juvenile defense process and ensure your child’s rights are not violated.

Informal Juvenile Justice Process

In California, juvenile offenses can also be treated informally. The child appears before either a juvenile probation officer or a juvenile judge when this happens. To assure the best possible outcome, an attorney should be present and represent your child. The child may only be subject to a lecture from the officer or judge or community service, counseling, payment of damages caused, and probation with an attorney present.

The informal process is usually preferred to the formal process in juvenile courts or adult courts. The attorneys at My Rights Law can help you and your child to work out the issue in an informal setting.

What Is Juvenile Delinquency

Juvenile delinquency is when a minor child under 18 commits a crime considered a “delinquent act.” Typically, the government starts the case by filing a petition against the minor[1]. If the crime committed is only a crime because they are underage, that crime is considered a status offense. Juvenile crimes are usually minor offenses and do not have severe penalties. Juvenile delinquency, on the other hand, may have higher penalties.

Examples Of Juvenile Delinquency

Common delinquent acts that a minor may be convicted of include fighting, vandalism, trespassing, and petty theft. These crimes are usually misdemeanor crimes, and it is rare if a minor is tried as an adult for these crimes. When a juvenile commits one of these offenses, the juvenile is usually reprimanded[2] under the juvenile justice process. Punishment ordered by the court for a juvenile delinquency case could include the child living under court supervision, the child being put on probation, and/or the child being sent to Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Division of Juvenile Justice. If the juvenile commits a more serious offense, typically seen as a felony, depending on their age, they may be more likely to be tried as an adult.

Examples Of Crimes Where A Juvenile May Be Tried As An Adult

If a minor has committed a serious crime like rape, murder, or kidnapping, it is more likely they will be tried as an adult. Under California law, there are certain crimes that, if committed, require the child to be tried as an adult; however, children under the age of 16 cannot be tried as adults[3]. These crimes include murder under specific circumstances and sex offenses, including rape with force or threat of force. Some violations are more likely to cause a juvenile to be tried as an adult. These offenses include most other felonies that would be charged in an adult court. Regardless of the severity of the crime committed, an experienced juvenile defense attorney can help navigate a minor through the court process.

How To Seal A Juvenile Record

It is possible to have a juvenile record sealed in the state of California. If the child was convicted of a juvenile crime and has successfully served their sentence, they could petition the court to seal or destroy their record after they are eighteen years old. The court will decide whether to seal or destroy the record based on what offense was committed and the length of time since the commission of the offense. If a juvenile’s record is sealed, it can be helpful in the future for educational or employment purposes.

An attorney can help you file the proper petition[4] with the court to have a better chance of the record getting sealed or destroyed. If you or your child has a juvenile record, contact a lawyer from My Rights Law, and they may be able to help you achieve better future opportunities for either yourself or your child.

When To Call A Juvenile Defense Attorney

The defense attorney you choose can make the difference between having criminal charges dismissed or being severely punished. My Rights Law’s strong team of criminal lawyers have the resources and experience that enable us to pursue difficult cases yielding favorable results. We protect our clients through our expertise in the law and extensive experience in handling all misdemeanor and felony criminal cases including, but not limited to, alcohol-related crimes, drug crimes, violent crimes, domestic violence, sex crimes, crimes against children, theft crimes, juvenile delinquency crimes, gun charges, property crimes, cybercrimes, driving offenses, public safety crimes, federal crimes, financial crimes, crimes against the government, crimes against justice, and inchoate crimes. We also specialize in restraining orders, pretrial diversion programs, and expungements.

If your child has committed a crime, no matter how small the charges against them may be, it is good to call an attorney who is well-versed in juvenile defense and who is experienced in juvenile delinquency court, including juvenile detection hearings. A juvenile lawyer from My Rights Law can help ensure that your child is treated fairly and can help mitigate the long-lasting effects of having a charge on their record.

My Rights Law attorneys have a significant amount of experience helping parents and juveniles understand and maneuver through the juvenile justice system. To learn more, reach out to us by calling (888) 702-8882 or filling out our online contact form.

FOOTNOTES
[1] Welf. and Inst. Code § 602; § 630; § 650.
[2] Welf. and Inst. Code § 601.
[3] California SB 1391 (2017-2018).
[4] California Rule of Court, rule 5.552 (2022).

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