There’s nothing that worries a parent or caregiver more than when their children are in trouble. You likely have overwhelming questions going through your mind like, “How can I keep my child out of the system?” and “What does this mean for their future?”
One of the fastest things you can do to get those answers, and give yourself a little piece of mind is to call a Los Angeles juvenile crime attorney familiar with the juvenile justice system. Shield Law Criminal Defense makes it a priority to protect your child’s future. Call us at 213-514-8732 for a free evaluation of your case.
What’s the difference between juvenile court and the adult court system?
If your child is under the age of 18, they will likely be tried as a minor. However, serious crimes such as rape, murder or assault with a deadly weapon may result in a juvenile being tried as an adult. The juvenile system in California is intricate and has its own rules, regulations and customs. For instance, the California juvenile system prefers sentencing in the form of rehabilitation efforts over incarceration wherever possible. Suspected juvenile offenders have the same rights as of adults. Your child has the right to proper disclosure of charges, a legal defense, and a humane arrest. However, the juvenile system does not engage in jury trials.
A Los Angeles Juvenile Crime Attorney Can Help
What kind of cases are heard in a juvenile court?
Any crime allegedly committed by a minor can be heard in a juvenile court. The California Juvenile Court routinely hears cases relating to crimes such as:
- Alcohol or drug possession
- Underage drinking
- Possession of a fake I.D.
- Vehicular manslaughter
- Sex offenses
- Car theft
What can I expect if my child’s case ends up in Juvenile Court?
Once a case is referred to the juvenile court, a prosecutor who specializes in juvenile cases takes over.
That person decides to either dismiss the case or “petition the case”, which means to file formal charges.
The prosecutor will typically consider the following aspects when deciding on how to proceed:
- the severity of the offense
- the juvenile’s age
- the juvenile’s past record
- the evidence in the case
- the ability of the minor’s parents to control his or her behavior
Sometimes the prosecutor will decide that while the juvenile should have consequences, they don’t necessarily want to subject them to formal proceedings where incarceration could be involved.
If the prosecutor chooses an informal proceeding, the minor must appear before a probation officer or judge. No formal charge is entered against the juvenile, however he or she may be required to do one or more of the following as an alternative:
- attend counseling
- attend after-school classes
- repay the victim for damages
- pay a fine
- perform community service work, or
- complete probation
Oftentimes the prosecutor or judge will look into the juvenile’s family life to see if neglect or abuse is suspected as part of the case. If such problems are uncovered, the juvenile court judge may initiate proceedings to order mandatory family counseling or remove the minor from parental or guardian custody.
If the charge against the juvenile is considered a serious or violent offense, the prosecutor may decide that the case should go directly to a formal hearing in front of a judge. At this point this court decides whether to hear the case in juvenile court, or if it should be referred to the adult court system.
There are a few possible scenarios if the case remains in juvenile court:
- The minor could enter a plea bargain, where they agree to attend counseling, adhere to curfews or reimburse the victim in lieu of incarceration
- The judge may recommend that the juvenile take part in a court-ordered program, such as community service or counseling. If the program is not completed, the judge may reinstate the charges and heavier penalties become likely.
- The case goes straight to a trial, or in the juvenile system an “adjudicatory hearing”. The prosecution and defense both presents their sides and evidence and the judge renders a final decision. (There are no jury trials in the juvenile system)
What can I do at home to help my child?
The very best thing you can do is recognize that your child needs help, and be an active participant in a plan to get them what they need. Making excuses or playing the blame game for your child’s problems will not help them take responsibility or make future improvements.
We all need help sometimes, taking the first step and calling an Los Angeles juvenile lawyer that can assist you in getting your family back on track is a great way to show your child that you care, and that you will do what it takes to help them.
Call Shield Law Criminal Defense to connect with a Los Angeles juvenile lawyer that wants to help you help your child.
Call 213-514-8732 to speak with a Los Angeles juvenile crime attorney for free.