Juvenile Crimes in California have a specialized set of rules and regulations. At Leib Law, we know that, as a parent, it is frightening when your child gets in trouble. We want you to know that we are here to help. We have experience dealing with the juvenile justice system and can assist you in getting your child the treatment that they need and deserve. Here are a few things you should know:
Under California law, a party is, in most instances, treated as a “minor” if he or she has not yet reached the age of 18. Cases involving minors are not handled through the regular criminal courts but, rather, through the California Juvenile Court System. While the Criminal Court System is designed to punish offenders, the juvenile justice system is designed with the goal of either treatment and/or rehabilitation of juvenile offenders.
With this in mind, the juvenile justice system gives broad discretion to police, judges and prosecutors in their treatment of juvenile offenders. The police may release a juvenile to the custody of his parents. In addition, the sentencing options are much broader and more lenient than in the Criminal Court System. These include informal probation, formal probation, detention and, only if necessary and usually only for repeat offenses, incarceration in a juvenile detention facility. There are also joint programs available with the school system, social service agencies and community-based organizations.
In the juvenile justice system, a minor has most of the same constitutional rights as an adult defendant. These rights are the requirement to be advised of their rights at the time of arrest, to not make any statement that might incriminate them, to have an attorney present at their request for all proceedings, including any in which a statement is requested from the defendant. However, even though the minor may request to have their parents present during any questioning by police, the police are not necessarily required to inform the minor of this right.
In addition, the minor is not entitled to a trial by jury, but, only an “Adjudication” (a trial in front of a judge). For these reasons it is crucial for a minor to be represented by a competent defense attorney, like the Southern California juvenile defense team of Leib Law, PC, as soon as possible following a detention, arrest or a Notice to Appear in juvenile court so that the juvenile’s rights can be protected.
Due to recent law changes (Proposition 21), a minor can be transferred to the adult, Criminal Court System for certain, specified serious or violent alleged crimes. This is true for minors even as young as 14. In most juvenile cases, a judge will determine whether such a transfer is appropriate. For these cases it is even more important to retain an attorney to fight the transfer or to represent the juvenile once the case has been transferred.
Parents should also be advised that California has recently made changes making sentences longer for crimes which are deemed “gang-related”. The court may impose detention in a California Youth Authority facility for even minor offenses if the offense is deemed “gang-related”. It is important to fight the “gang-related” association when charges are brought under these new laws.
Read more about juvenile crimes in the following blog posts:
- Juvenile Criminal Sentencing in California
- California Law on Sentencing Juveniles to Life in Prison
- Juvenile Questioning by Police Under California Law
IF YOUR CHILD IS CURRENTLY FACING ANY TYPE OF JUVENILE, CRIMINAL CHARGES, IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY, ORANGE COUNTY, VENTURA COUNTY, SANTA BARABARA COUNTY, RIVERSIDE COUNTY, OR SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY, CONTACT THE JUVENILE CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEYS, LEIB LAW.