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Juvenile Crime Defense Attorney Los Angeles

If you have a child under the age of 18, and your child breaks the law, they will go through the juvenile delinquency system. The Juvenile delinquency system is NOT the same as the adult court—and is a different area of law altogether.

The juvenile system differs from the adult system in many ways:

  • There is no trial nor jury. In the juvenile system, there is an adjudication and a judge decides the fate of the minor.
  • The juvenile system is focused and tries to rehabilitate and educate minors—not just punish.
  • As opposed to the adult system, most cases in the juvenile system can be sealed and thus minors can enter adulthood with no record;
  • Sentences in the juvenile court are shorter than in adult court
  • The language is different in the juvenile system Just as an example, the child is not considered innocent or guilty… what the juvenile system says is, “the charges are not sustained or the charges are sustained” Another example: 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 call an attorney with direct experience in juvenile defense as soon as your child gets in trouble. The earlier an attorney can start working on the case, the better!

In the juvenile system, misdemeanor charges and adult misdemeanor charges are very similar…

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.

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.

The Juvenile Court can punish the child in a variety of ways:

  • Drug counseling or Drug Court;
  • Probation with consistent check ins with their probation officer and mandatory drug testing;
  • Detention in a juvenile detention facility.

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.

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