There is no doubt that teenagers and children think and act differently than adults. Consequently, California has a juvenile justice system that treats minors more leniently than adults. Nevertheless, juvenile criminal cases are compromised and might negatively affect your child's future opportunities and life. If your child faces a juvenile case, consider hiring a skilled defense attorney who understands the consequences of the charge and the best legal defense and can help stand with your family throughout the process. At Orange County Criminal Lawyer, we believe that understanding your parental rights increases the likelihood of a favorable case outcome.
An Overview of Juvenile Delinquency Court in California
Juvenile delinquency court is a court designed to adjudicate crimes that minors allegedly commit. On top of that, the court handles status crimes such as curfew and truancy violations.
There are two types of petitions that the prosecutor or probation department might charge against your child, namely:
- 601 Petition — Filed for status offenses like truancy, curfew violation, and chronic disobedience of parents. If sustained, your minor child becomes a ward of the court and is deemed a "status offender."
- 602 Petition — Prosecuted for crimes that could be offenses if an adult commits them. If sustained, the minor becomes a ward of the court and is considered delinquent.
Theoretically, the juvenile delinquency justice system is meant to rehabilitate a minor. The child should receive the required services, treatment, and education they need to move on, reunite with family and become responsible citizens.
When an adult violates the law, the purpose is to punish them.
However, that doesn't mean your child will go without penalty. The minor could be sanctioned for impermissible behavior, but these sanctions are tailored for correction instead of retribution.
The sanction could include:
- Commitment to California Youth Authority
- Placed in a foster home
- Placed in a juvenile ranch, camp, or hall
- Parole/probation conditions
- Community service
- Payment of fines and restitution
- Attending a victim impact class
Who Goes through California Juvenile Court Trial?
Typically, children below eighteen (18) years of age are tried in the California juvenile justice system.
Child Below 18 are Sent to Juvenile Court
According to the Welfare and Institution Code section 602, the juvenile court controls crimes committed by children under eighteen when committing criminal conduct. If your child commits an offense while seventeen but it's not tried or learned until the baby is twenty, the juvenile court might try the child's case.
Some Children Face Adult Court System
If your child is above sixteen years of age and has committed a 707b crime, they might face a transfer hearing. During the hearing, the judge will determine whether your child must be transferred to adult court using the following factors:
- The extent of criminal complexity the minor demonstrated
- Whether it is possible to rehabilitate the minor before the court jurisdiction expires
- The child prior criminal history
- Whether prior attempts to correct and rehabilitate your minor were successful
- The severity and circumstances of the crime
Some of the WIC 707b crimes include murder, robbery, arson leading to great bodily injuries, forcible sexual penetration, attempted murder, kidnapping for arson, kidnapping at the time of carjacking, carjacking, aggravated mayhem, and torture.
Juvenile Judicial System
The justice process starts with your child's arrest. The process can end here; the law enforcement agency can choose to release your minor child with a reprimand.
Additionally, the police can take your child to the county probation department, resulting in detention at juvenile hall and bringing a petition against your son/daughter.
Generally, the process involves the following hearings:
- Detention (Children in police custody)
- Arraignment (Children out of police custody)
- Transfer hearing for 707b crimes
- Disposition hearing (Sentencing)
- Jurisdiction Hearing (Trial)
The law is clear on how and when the hearings should occur.
At any stage, your criminal defense attorney and prosecutor can reach an agreement and proceed to disposition.
If a mistake is made, there is a possibility of re-hearings.
Parental Rights in California Juvenile Delinquency Cases
You might not take your minor child home with you. The judge will schedule a detention hearing where the judge determines whether you can take your minor home while the criminal case is proceeding. This decision is made based on several factors, including:
- If the DA has proof against your child, and
- Any of the statements below is correct:
- Your child has broken a juvenile delinquency court order
- The minor is a flight risk (they are more likely to flee)
- There is an urgent or immediate need to detain your baby for their protection
- It's reasonably necessary for another person's protection or that of their asset(s) that your child is in custody
Even if your son/daughter is a ward of the court, you're still a parent, and the parental responsibilities and rights are maintained.
Entitlement to Appeal Your Minor Child's Case
You are entitled to petition for a review hearing following disposition hearing. It would be best if you wrote a Notice of Appeal to inform the other part that you desire to appeal the court ruling within sixty days after the disposition hearing. You should bring the notice to the jurisdiction that handled the case.
Be sure the following elements are in your letter of appeal:
- A statement indicating that you're appealing your child's case
- The sentence you are petitioning against
- Your signature and that of your criminal defense attorney for identification purpose
- Indicate if you're appealing against the court ruling or part of it
Your criminal defense attorney should be able to help you file the notice of appeal timely and appropriately.
Right to Safeguard Your Child from Coercion
Under Senate Bill 203, your child should not experience custodial interrogations until they consult with a criminal defense attorney. The bill is designed to stop the violation of your child's constitutional rights without knowing. From time to time, cops disregard the fact that they are dealing with children and apply force to collect data and then build a criminal case against the child. The presence of an attorney during interrogation is essential.
Generally, there are three forms of coerced confessions that the juvenile court might dismiss.
First, it is a voluntary false confession that a psychiatric disorder is caused by wrapping up the minor's reality. Due to the disorder, the minor can confess as it generates a belief that it might result in fame.
Secondly, the minor might confess to safeguarding you, mainly if the allegation is against you, the parent.
Thirdly, it's a compliant false confession that occurs during police interrogations. Persuaded false and complain false confessions are similar in that the minor child is placed in circumstances that make them doubt their memory. Consequently, the child is persuaded that they broke the law. At times, minors confess, thinking that their honesty will make the court impose less severe penalties or even forgive the criminal conduct.
Moreover, the police use psychological abuse until your child confesses to violating the law. Typically, psychological abuse takes in the use of emotional ploys and mental tricks. For example, a law enforcer might tell the minor that they'll face more severe penalties or promise to release them if they confess.
Right to Inspect Your Child's Juvenile Court File
Under Penal Code Section 5.552 PC, guardians, and parents are entitled to inspect their children's court files, including:
- Reports filed in court by social workers of child welfare services programs, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) volunteers, and probation officers.
- Documents presented to social workers of child welfare services programs, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) volunteers, and probation officers when preparing reports to juvenile delinquency court.
- Documents associated with your child in the office files of social workers of child welfare services programs, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) volunteers, and probation officers.
- Records, reports, and transcripts linked to issues released or prepared by the probation department, child welfare services program, or the court
- Audiotapes, video, documents, exhibits, and photographs admitted into proof during court hearings
The law allows you to obtain and review your baby's case files together with the criminal defense lawyer. You should file Petition for Access to Juvenile Case File (form JV-570) explaining:
- Why you are acquiring the case file
- The specific file you desire to obtain
- Your role in the criminal case
- How the case file is related to your child's case
The court will review your petition before determining whether you can analyze the case files. If you show good cause, the court will grant your petition. The court allows access provided you can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the records in question are necessary and have significant relevance to your legal need. The court might issue a protective order to accompany the authorized access, discovery, or disclosure.
When determining whether to allow the release or inspection of the juvenile case file, the juvenile court should:
- balance the interests of the minor and other parties in the proceeding, the interests of the petitioner, and
- the interests of the public.
Finally, if the court grants your petition, it must find the need for access outweighs the policy consideration favoring the juvenile case file's confidentiality. The confidentiality is tailored to safeguard the privacy of your child.
Right to Have Your Child's Hearing Remain Confidential
California juvenile cases are handled differently from adult criminal cases. Since the court aims to rehabilitate the minor and address their best interests, you are entitled to request the court to hold all proceedings privately.
PC 5.530 bans the public from attending any juvenile court proceedings. Nevertheless, the section outlines who can be present during the proceedings; these persons should have an involvement or interests in the criminal case.
You could ask the court to permit other people in juvenile court during the proceedings. Nonetheless, your child can object to another party's presence provided the judge rules that their presence might prejudice their case. A skilled legal counsel can aid you in identifying who cannot be in court.
Some of the reasons for the stringent confidentiality related to juvenile proceedings and hearings include:
- Confidentiality promotes your child's integrity and reputation. Members of the public don't have to access the alleged crime's details, preventing stigma that can affect the minor's self-esteem.
- Family court cases are sensitive, and a proceeding can evoke a family matter. The hearings are kept private to prevent the public from looking for information and using it against your child or family.
Since children are often unable to make logical and informed decisions, the purpose of the juvenile justice process is rehabilitation. The minor's future benefits from confidentiality and keeping the case and its result increase the likelihood of acquiring a lucrative employment opportunity.
The Police Should Inform you of Your Child's Arrest
When the child is arrested for an offense, they are detained, and a case is opened. Not knowing your child's whereabouts can be devastating. That is why you should be advised of their arrest, why they were arrested, and the right to remain silent.
It is worth noting that you don't have the right to be present during your baby's interrogation. That means your son/daughter can be questioned without your knowledge of the arrest.
Also, suppose the son/daughter waives their rights to remain silent and agrees to be questioned without legal counsel. In that case, the cops can interrogate the minor with a lawyer, without you, and without notifying you that it is taking place.
In this case, the prosecution team can use anything your child says against them in a court of law. Therefore, you should educate your children early about remaining silent and requesting for you if police ever arrest, question, or detain them, even when they are innocent.
Additionally, you are permitted to visit your son/daughter in police custody. Please note, even if a police officer isn't physically present, your visit is not private. Interrogations rooms have cameras that record all conversations. Consequently, consulting with a competent advocate before the visit is vital.
Please remember the following:
- Do not jump to a conclusion — Do not assume the innocence or guilt of the minor; it might be either.
- Remain collected, rational, and calm — This isn't the time to lose control. Your son/daughter requires you to be strong and ensure their constitutional rights are protected.
- Be open-minded about the case and collect information and evidence. Take notes; you might require them later.
- Speak with your minor child — Be proactive and educate your child not to speak with anyone until a skilled criminal defense lawyer is available.
- Have a qualified lawyer's contact information in your phone, planner, or where you keep significant phone numbers. Seek legal assistance immediately you are notified of the arrest.
The Right to Appear in All Court Hearings
As previously mentioned, there are numerous hearings when a minor is detained and when they face punishment for the alleged offense. You have a right to attend these court hearings.
After every six (6) months, a review hearing is held to monitor your child's progress and how you are doing with court-ordered services. If the minor is placed out of your home, the judge determines whether you might go home with them.
You are Entitled to be Informed of Your Minor Child's Constitutional Rights
Wards of court have different constitutional rights from adult defendants. Before the 1960s, children had few due process rights. However, the becoming of juvenile court hearings more formal, courts have strengthened minor's rights.
Facing a criminal justice process is traumatizing and could cause your child to make an incriminating statement against themselves. By knowing their rights, you can advise and educate accordingly. The section below outlines the constitutional rights of minor offenders in California.
- Probable cause is required before searching your child — A police officer must have probable cause before searching and detaining a child they suspect of committing a crime. Nevertheless, public officials in a quasi-parental relationship with your child like a school worker only require reasonable suspicion of violating the law to detain and search your child.
- Entitled to phone calls — Your child should make more than one call if they're detained and not likely to be released any time soon. They can contact a defense lawyer directly or call you and ask you to call the legal expert. By requesting to reach a legal expert or parent, the child invokes the Miranda rights. Therefore, if the cop fails the grant the request, anything your son/daughter says after that, the prosecutor cannot use it against them in court.
- Children aren't entitled to seek bail. However, it is not uncommon for minor defendants to be released to their guardians or parents before arraignment in court.
- Right to have the criminal charge establish beyond any reasonable doubt — If your child faces adjudication as delinquent or incarceration as a result of a juvenile court proceeding, then the prosecutor should establish those charges against your baby beyond any reasonable doubt. If the consequences aren't at issue, the prosecutor should establish the criminal charge using a preponderance of the evidence.
- Juvenile offenders in California do not have the right to a jury trial.
- Under Fifth Amendment, minors in court proceedings can assert the privilege against self-incrimination. In other words, your child cannot be forced to testify against themselves.
- Right to cross-examine and confront witnesses —While a juvenile adjudication hearing isn't a formal trial, your child, through their attorney, can both cross-examine and confront witnesses and challenge the testimony presented.
- Your child should be notified of their delinquency charges.
A Right to Have Your Minor Child Seek Legal Representation
In 1967, the United States Supreme Court ruled that children are entitled to legal representation in their court proceedings. If you can't afford a lawyer, a state-appointed lawyer can represent them.
Here are reasons you should retain a qualified legal expert:
A Comprehensive Review of the Constitutional Rights During the Arrest
The initial step your defense attorney will take is determining whether the police met all requirements during your child's arrest. Since children often do not know their rights, they might face penalties under procedures that broke their rights.
Some of these circumstances include:
- Not being read Miranda rights
- Not being advised of the right to prevent self-incrimination
- Illegal seizure and search of proof
Juvenile Delinquency Cases Proceed Quickly
Since the juvenile justice system aims to rehabilitate and have children return to school and everyday living as quickly as possible, processes are tailored to process wards of court promptly. Therefore, you should contact an attorney immediately to begin building practical legal defense strategies.
The attorney will also:
- provide an objective perspective of the case, and
- collect the required evidence and interview witnesses.
Can Your Parental Rights be Terminated?
If you have the physical or legal custody of a child as their parent or guardian, you are entitled to make medical and educational decisions for the minor. The court can only terminate these rights under the circumstances below:
- When your child violates the law facilitated by their surrounding environment, the court can put the minor in legal guardianship to safeguard them from any criminal trigger. In this case, parental rights are restricted.
- After the adoption of the child
- If you have alcohol or drug addiction challenges, criminal issues, are abusive, or the court finds you unfit.
Parental Responsibilities in Juvenile Delinquency Cases
You can be held accountable for your juvenile's crime. Parents have a legal responsibility to supervise and prevent their children from violating the law and becoming responsible citizens.
Some of the crimes you might be liable for include:
- Hacking, internet access, and other computer offenses
- Firearm access provided you controlled or owned the firearm in question
- Property damage
- If your child caused a road collision using your car and the accident led to injuries
When held accountable for your minor child's offense, you might face penalties like community services, restitution payment to the alleged victims, and payment of court fees and fines.
Additionally, you should pay for costs linked to the minor's delinquency disposition and case, including:
- Electronic surveillance costs
- Legal services
- Costs the county incurs for your child's clothing, medical, and food expenses while in detention
Find an Experienced Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
One of the shocking things a guardian or parent can ever experience is learning that their minor child is in police custody. Unfortunately, this is the reality for thousands of parents in Orange County. You need to remember your parental rights, remain calm, and get your child the assistance they require. The legal team at Orange County Criminal Lawyer understands your challenges. Consequently, we are committed to realizing a resolution that can get your minor back on track with a minimum of damage to the prospect of a productive life.
Contact us today at 714-262-4833 to learn more. Your initial consultation is free.