Get Help From the Top Woodland Hills Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyer
SLM Law, APC is a juvenile defense law firm serving Los Angeles from our offices in Woodland Hills and Beverly Hills. We have served all courts throughout Southern California for over a decade.
When to Hire a Woodland Hills Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyer
In the state of California, people who are under the age of 18 are legally considered juveniles. While it is bad enough for an adult to get arrested, it’s even more devastating when your teenager ends up in the juvenile court system.
Juvenile law is built on the theory that minors will inevitably make errors and should therefore not be penalized at the same levels as adults. However, the reality of these offenses is not so simple. In fact, a young offender may be tried as an adult if they are accused of committing the most serious crimes, and any juvenile criminal conviction can have lasting effects on a young person’s life.
If you or a loved one is dealing with juvenile criminal charges in California, it is vital that you seek the representation of an experienced Woodland Hills juvenile defense lawyer. At SLM Law, APC we are dedicated to protecting the legal rights of all minors. Our skilled juvenile criminal defense lawyers work tirelessly to not only handle the present criminal charges, but also to help families understand and address the underlying issue.
What to Know Before Facing the Los Angeles County Juvenile Court
If you have a child under the age of 18 and your child breaks the law, they will go through the juvenile justice system. The juvenile criminal justice system is NOT the same as the adult court and is a different area of law altogether. The differences between these legal areas offer both benefits and drawbacks to a minor’s defense strategy, making it imperative that you hire a lawyer who knows how to cater to the unique needs of a child in the Los Angeles juvenile delinquency system.
The juvenile criminal law system differs from the adult system in many ways:
- There is no jury trial. In the juvenile system, there is an adjudication and a judge decides the fate of the minor.
- Children who have been accused of a crime DO NOT have the right to have their parents present when they are questioned by law enforcement, but they DO have the right to have an attorney present if they are under 15 years old.
- The juvenile system is focused on rehabilitating and educating minors—not just punishing them.
- As opposed to the adult system, most cases in the juvenile system can be sealed, allowing minors to enter adulthood with no record.
- Sentences in the juvenile courts are shorter than in adult court.
- The language is different in the juvenile system. For example, the child is not considered innocent or guilty—under the juvenile system, the charges are either “sustained” or “not sustained.” Another example is that the minor is not considered a prisoner, but a “ward.” And as mentioned above, there is no “trial,” but an “adjudication”.
The most important thing to remember is to call a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney with direct experience in juvenile defense as soon as your child is arrested. The earlier an attorney can start working on the case, the better!
Why You Need a Defense Attorney in Juvenile Court
There are numerous sentencing options for juveniles when they break the law in California, but all consist of either incarceration or non-incarceration. Depending on the severity of the criminal offense and the quality of the defense strategy, a teen charged with a crime may face any of the following penalties:
- House arrest, with or without an ankle monitor
- Alternative living arrangements, such as foster care or moving in with a relative
- Time at a juvenile hall/juvenile detention center
- Jail or prison time
- Boot camp
- Monetary fines
- Mental health therapy
- Community service
It is safe to say that the majority of parents wish to avoid incarceration for their child, even if they are guilty. Because of this, it’s in your family’s best interest to seek the assistance of a reputable Southern California juvenile criminal defense attorney immediately.
How a Juvenile Criminal Attorney Can Help
At SLM Law, APC, we provide compassionate, customized service with the intent of helping you and your family through this challenging time. Our trusted juvenile defense lawyer deals with all elements of juvenile cases, including:
- Detention hearings.
- Probation infractions.
- Deferred prosecution programs.
- Alternative sentencing options.
While juvenile judges will generally do what they can to better serve the juvenile’s needs, it takes a compelling argument to ensure that those needs are properly communicated. Our dedicated juvenile defense attorneys are well-informed on the alternatives to prosecution available to juvenile offenders. When you begin working with us, we’ll thoroughly examine your case at every angle, keeping your child’s freedom and future our top priorities.
We also highly recommend having a rap sheet sealed or expunged so that the juvenile’s future opportunities are not adversely impacted. As your Los Angeles juvenile defense law firm, we can help your child seal his or her record as soon as they reach the age of 18.
If you want to see your child move past this incident and begin their journey to a better and brighter future, we can not express enough the significance of working with a reputable criminal defense attorney who has extensive experience representing teens.
Contact the Top Juvenile Crime Lawyers Today
The truth is, not every criminal defense attorney represents juveniles; instead, most concentrate on adult cases, which means that the outcome of your child’s case could be impacted by an attorney’s lack of understanding and experience in the juvenile court system. No matter which types of charges your child is facing, your family should have a legal representative on your side who is comfortable representing juveniles, who is experienced in local juvenile court processes, and who possesses a thorough understanding of the California Welfare and Institutions Code.
When your child is dealing with a criminal charge, it is important you understand the full scope of their rights and options. If you’re ready to begin building a strong defense with the top juvenile defense lawyers in Woodland Hills, CA, don’t hesitate to contact SLM Law, APC today at 310-443-4119 to schedule a free consultation. We’re here for you and your family during this difficult time.
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But the great aspect of the juvenile system is that misdemeanor offenses can sometimes be settled informally—without any kind of admission. With an admission, misdemeanor offenses can be settled for either a 6 month probationary period or a year probationary period.
Felony offenses are more serious even in the Juvenile System. The probationary sentence is usually for one year and can be so serious that the Court can order the minor in Placement, camp or even a longer sentence in a Juvenile state prison.
What You Should Always Keep in Mind:
There are certain felony charges that are once sustained, cannot be automatically sealed;
There are certain sex crimes that call for lifetime sexual registration…even if the minor is under the age of 18 when the charges are filed;
There are offenses called 707b offenses, that are not sealable and are sometimes lifetime strike offenses
Certain offenses may be charged as an adult.
For parents there is no greater stress than dealing with a child being arrested and simultaneously dealing with the school trying to expel their child. School boards can be more stringent and aggressive than juvenile Court, that is why it is so important to at least talk and consult with an attorney to get advice on how to proceed against the school district.
Education Code 48900 states gives us the rules and regulations for expulsion.
If your child is charged with a strike offense, the offense can stay on a child’s’ criminal record well into adulthood. That is why it is so important to consult with an attorney with actual juvenile defense experience.
So what is a strike?
According to California’s three strikes law—juvenile strikes are listed in California Welfare and Institutions Code Section 707(b). According to case law, a juvenile strike offense must constitute a violent felony or a serious felony in order to count as a strike. Click here for the full list of W&I 707 offenses.
Children over the age of 14 charged with a serious criminal charge (like murders or sex crimes) use to find themselves being charged directly in an adult criminal court—that though has changed, and thankfully so.
The adult criminal court focuses on punishment while the juvenile court focuses on rehabilitation and education. It is always in the minors’ best interest to stay in the juvenile court.
But now, under Proposition 57, the law requires a hearing in front of a juvenile court judge—BEFORE the child is transferred to adult court.
The Judge must consider 5 criteria in a “ transfer hearing”. Read about it here
POSSESSION OF DRUGS
Juvenile drug possession occurs whenever a child knowingly has a drug or substance without a prescription.
We see this a lot for example when a child is pulled over in their car or stopped when walking with their friends.
Drug counseling or Drug Court;
Probation with consistent check ins with their probation officer and mandatory drug testing;
Detention in a juvenile detention facility.
POSSESSION FOR SALES AND TRANSPORTATION
These cases can have far more serious consequences than possession cases and it is important to defend them while making sure the minor stops the activity. In so many of these cases a child is directed to do the activity because of an adult; a gang or even drug cartels.
Understanding why and submitting mitigation evidence and/or fighting the charges can save the minor years of probation, detention and other severe punishment.
It is important to have an attorney guide a parent through the process.