At Thompson • Garcia Law, we seek to take a personalized approach to our defense work and will hold your and your family’s hand through every difficult step of the legal process. With over 65 years of professional experience, our attorneys are confident in the trial room and knowledgeable about the criminal justice system. The juvenile delinquency system may seem daunting to navigate, but you and your child can trust that Thompson • Garcia Law can confidently and efficiently represent your child and protect their future.
The Juvenile Court System
In California, a child can be charged with a juvenile delinquency case if they have committed a crime. To determine the appropriate legal ramifications, the court will first consider the child’s age, how serious the crime is, and the child’s criminal record. The court can order any of the following:
- The child will live with their parents under court supervision.
- The child will be put on probation and may have to live with a relative, in a foster or group home, or in an institution.
- The child will be put on probation and sent to a probation camp or ranch.
- The child can be sent to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) or Division of Adult Operations (CDCR).
In the case of the DJJ, the child will go to a reception center for the first 30 to 90 days, which will allow the center to determine what education and treatment the child needs. Afterwards, the child will likely be sent to a correctional facility or youth camp.
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What to Do After an Arrest
There are several procedures law enforcement may take if they have reason to arrest a juvenile. More specifically, if a child is arrested, the police can choose to do any of the following:
- make a record of the arrest and let the child go home;
- send the child to an agency that will shelter, care for, or counsel the child;
- make the child return to the police station;
- give the child and their parent/guardian a Notice to Appear (below);
- place the child in juvenile hall (detention).
If arrested, a child has the right to make at least 2 phone calls within the hour of being arrested. According to the California courts, one call must be to a parent, guardian, relative, or boss, and the other must be to a lawyer.
Be aware that law enforcement must inform the child about their Miranda rights if they seek to ask the child questions. Their Miranda rights include the right to remain silent, the fact that anything they say will be used against them in court, and the right to a lawyer (personally solicited or court-appointed). Juveniles who are 15 years old or younger must be allowed to talk to a lawyer before they talk to the police or give up their Miranda rights. Note that parents must also be informed as soon as their child is arrested, and law enforcement must explain where the child is and what rights they have.
If a Notice to Appear is issued, the child will be requested to go to the probation department and meet with a probation officer, who may:
- scold the child and let them go home;
- allow the child to do a voluntary program (e.g., special classes, counseling, community service) instead of going to court;
- send the child home and send the case to the district attorney, who may decide whether the child needs to go to court;
- keep the child detained and schedule a detention hearing on the next day, as well as send the case to the district attorney, who will file a petition (usually within 2 days after the arrest).
Minors in Adult Courts
While juveniles are usually tried in juvenile court, it is possible in more serious cases for a minor to be tried as an adult. For instance, California’s three-strikes law upholds that some serious or violent crimes committed by minors can count as strikes in the future. As a result, a child who is 14 years old can be tried in adult court for some serious crimes like:
- murder and attempted murder;
- kidnapping or carjacking;
- crimes with weapons;
- drug crimes; and
- escaping from a juvenile detention facility.
Be aware that if a child is tried in adult court, this means that the child can be sent to adult prison. However, even if the child is sentenced to adult prison, they will likely stay at the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) until they turn 18 years old, after which the judge can send them directly to adult prison. In some cases, if the child’s sentence ends before they turn 21 years old, the judge may let them stay at the DJJ for the entirety of their sentence.
Questions? Contact Thompson • Garcia Law Today.
If your child has been charged with a criminal offense, do not hesitate to enlist the help of an experienced juvenile attorney today. The juvenile delinquency process can be confusing, especially if your child may potentially be charged in an adult court. Having a good lawyer can make a difference in when (and whether) your child may return home. Contact our lawyers at Thompson • Garcia Law for legal support in your Dublin, CA juvenile delinquency case today; we have over 65 years of combined experience and have handled every type of criminal case in between.
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