In California, the juvenile delinquency system differs from adult criminal courts. Additionally, the grown-ups courts and the juvenile courts use different terminologies. For instance, if the judge considers the available evidence and finds a grown-up guilty, the court makes a guilty verdict.
Alternatively, if the juvenile judge finds your child guilty, the court sustains a petition. The prosecution team will then file a petition. The offense committed may be either a misdemeanor or a felony. In case the juvenile judge holds a petition, your child may face severe consequences.
The juvenile court processes may be complicated, mainly when it’s the minor’s first-time offense. You will require the help of a criminal defense attorney familiar with the juvenile court system. At Orange County Criminal Lawyer, we build a solid defense to ensure a favorable outcome. If the police arrested your child in or around Orange County, CA, you might contact us.
An Overview of Sustained Juvenile Petitions
Minors in California commit crimes just like any other part of the world. The offenses committed by minors are either misdemeanor crimes or felony offenses. Because they are underage, they aren't treated like grown-ups. A minor may face accusations for committing the following types of offenses:
- Status offense — the offenses involve minor crimes. Additionally, they don't carry harsh consequences.
- Delinquent offenses — the offenses involve serious crimes. They have severe penalties.
California's law is considerate when punishing minor offenders despite the offense's weight. The juvenile system focuses on rehabilitating the juvenile offender. Generally, the penalties for a California minor offender are not severe.
Before the judge makes the final verdict, your child appears in the juvenile court for their case hearing. The process begins with a police arrest like in the adult offenders. After the law enforcement officers arrest the minor, the officer decides whether to release or place them in a detention center. If the police refer the minor to a detention hall, they feel the offender committed a severe offense. Additionally, the police officers need to avoid another occurrence.
At the detention hall, the prosecution team will evaluate the case and determine whether to file a petition against your child. According to the juvenile system, filing a petition in the delinquent court is similar to filing a charge against a criminal court's grown-up offender. The prosecution team files a petition, either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the case's circumstances. The juvenile judge conducts a hearing and announces their verdict. Once the court finds the minor offender guilty, the juvenile judge sustains a petition against the child.
Sustained petitions are like a guilty verdict in adult criminal courts. However, at the juvenile delinquency court, there are no juries. The judge makes a verdict considering the available evidence. Additionally, the judge determines whether the prosecutor has sufficient evidence to declare a minor guilty. When the judge accepts the proof beyond a shadow of a doubt, he/she sustains a petition against the minor.
For example, a law enforcement officer arrests a 15-year-old girl for damaging her neighbor’s property. She is then placed in a juvenile center. Then the prosecution team files a vandalism petition at the court. The judge calls for the court hearing. Accordingly, the prosecution team presents their evidence. The prosecutor proves beyond a shadow of a doubt the offender committed vandalism. After examining the evidence, the judge discovers the allegations as valid. Therefore the judge will sustain a petition against the juvenile offender.
Juvenile Courts in California
If your child commits a felony or misdemeanor case, the delinquency court handles all those cases. Additionally, the court handles other claims, including truancy and curfew violations. The court deals with minor offenders aged twelve to seventeen years. However, if your child turns eighteen years, his/her trial will take place in the criminal adult courts. Note that the juvenile delinquency court does not work under criminal courts.
Just like in the criminal courts, juvenile delinquency courts have defense attorneys and prosecutors. Notably, juvenile courts have judges and not juries. The courts don't try minor offenders below the age of 12years. However, the court may handle minors below the age of 12years when they commit crimes like violence, oral copulation, rape, and sodomy. Again juvenile courts handle crimes committed by a child who was below 18years when the crime occurred.
Your child might have committed the crime when he was at the age of 16 years. However, the case is discovered when he/she is 21years. Additionally, the court may handle your child's case since the crime was committed when the juvenile was below the age of 18 years.
Under the juvenile delinquency system, the juvenile judge doesn't judge the offender as guilty or innocent. Therefore if the juvenile judge discovers the child committed the crime, he/she sustains the child's petition. Alternatively, once the juvenile judge finds the child did not engage in the crime, the petition is dismissed.
How The Court Arrive at a Sustained Juvenile Petition
In California, the juvenile system starts when a minor commits an offense and the police arrest him/her. Sometimes, the law enforcement officers may warn the minor offender then release them. The law enforcement officer may issue a citation for the offender to visit a probation department. Alternatively, the police may opt to take your child to a detention center. As the child remains in the juvenile hall, the probation department asks the state’s DA to make an attempt to file a petition against the offender based on the severity of the offenses.
According to the laws, the filing of a petition should occur before forty-eight hours if the offense is a felony. Alternatively, the district officer must file a petition before seventy-two hours when the crime is a misdemeanor. Note that if your child isn't in custody, the district attorney doesn't have a petition filing deadline.
After the district attorney files a petition against your child, the court should hold a detention hearing. The hearing focuses on determining if the juvenile delinquency court will lock up your child. In case the court has the child in the juvenile hall, the child's attorney may ask for a rehearing. During the court rehearing, the child's attorney will support why the child shouldn't be in the detention center.
A jurisdiction hearing occurs within two weeks after the initial hearing when the police place your child in detention. Alternatively, if the offender is outside the custody, the hearing occurs within thirty days after the detention hearing. During the hearing, the judge reads and interprets the petition. Additionally, the judge explains the possible petition effects. For example, the juvenile judge informs the child's parents they will pay fines and restitution for their child.
The juvenile judge asks the minor to confirm if the charges mentioned are accurate. Your child may decide to fight or admit the charges. The judge will ensure the minor understands the charge and the possible consequences. Your child may declare the charges as inaccurate with a competent attorney, thus fighting the prosecutor's evidence. The child's attorney may:
- Cross-examine the witnesses.
- Object the district attorney's evidence.
- Provide extra evidence and witnesses.
Like in the criminal courts, the juvenile has the right to maintain silence at the hearing. If the minor remains silent, the juvenile judge considers the allegations and determines whether they are true. Additionally, if the juvenile judge determines the allegations as accurate, he/she will set a further hearing to show how the minor will be treated. Alternatively, if the judge determines the allegations as invalid, he/she dismisses the petition.
What Happens to a Minor After a Sustained Juvenile Petition
After confirming the evidence from the district attorney, the juvenile judge will sustain a petition. Notably, after the adjudication hearing, the judge will set a disposal hearing. The hearing is usually within ten days when the minor is in detention hall. Note that the disposal hearing may take place later once the involved parties agree.
At the disposal hearing, the juvenile judge determines how to guide or treat the minor. Additionally, the judge decides on the offender's punishment. The law requires the probation department to prepare a social study before the court hearing. All the parties involved in the child’s case are issued with a copy. The social study may include:
- The minor’s school records.
- In case the case is a felony, the study contains the victim’s statement.
- The offender’s prior criminal record.
During the hearing, the district attorney may present their evidence to the court. Alternatively, the mine will and their attorney will have a chance to present their evidence too. Additionally, the offender may submit a written or oral statement during the hearing. To decide a better cause of action, the juvenile judge considers:
- Keeping society safe.
- Interests of the victim.
- Fixing the offender’s conduct.
After both parties present their evidence, the judge may:
- Set the court findings during the hearing and choose to close. The judge only does this when it’s for both the victim and the juvenile justice system’s interests.
- The court may put the offender on probation for at least six months.
- The court may make the offender a ward of the court. If the judge makes the minor a ward of the court, they will exclude minors’ parents. Additionally, the court takes control over the child.
Under W&I section 725, the juvenile court allows a judge to sentence the child offender to probation after the judge sustains the petition. The probation lasts for six months, and the juvenile court issues probation conditions for the minor to adhere to while on probation. When the minor fails to comply with the probation conditions, the juvenile delinquency court will order and judge the offender to become a court ward.
Note that there are varied probation conditions given to minors. The common probation conditions constitute:
- The minor offender is expected to attend school compulsory.
- Between 10.00 PM and 06.00 AM hours, the child is under a mandatory curfew. The minor may be outside if in the companion of a parent or guardian.
- The child's parents are required to be involved fully in counseling and education programs with the minor.
The probation conditions may be less or more depending on:
- The social history of the minor
- The nature of the case.
California law doesn't allow the use of drugs and alcohol to minors. The court, therefore, imposes severe alcohol and drug conditions on the child on probation. The conditions on drug and alcohol use apply only if :
- The minor possessed or consumed alcohol.
- The minor Possessed, used, or furnished illegal drugs.
When the case includes alcohol or drugs, the judge orders the offender to complete education programs on drugs and alcohol. Additionally, the juvenile judge may order a minor to check for drugs and alcohol through the department of probation.
If the minor offender fails to follow the probation conditions, the judge declares them as a court ward. After declaration as a court ward, the court takes authority over the child. Otherworldly, the court becomes the acting parents or guardians of the child. Sometimes the juvenile court removes the child from their parent’s custody or limits the control of parents/guardians over the child.
Penalties For California Juvenile Offenders
After the judge sustains a petition against a minor, the offense consequences follow. The effects could be probation, rehabilitation, or punishment, depending on the committed crime's nature. Additionally, it depends on whether the minor is a habitual offender. Juvenile court judges have plenty of sentencing choices(disposition orders) under the California Juvenile system. The sentencing choices fall under two primary classification including:
- Incarceration —Incarceration is like a jail sentence for adult offenders. It is very different for minor offenders. Various offenses call for confinement, and the juvenile court judge has varied options to select. The following includes the incarceration levels for minor offenders in California:
- Juvenile Hall —Juvenile hall involves minors being sent to juvenile detention for a specific duration. However, Children are placed under incarceration for a short duration.
- House Arrest —The judge orders the minor to stay at home for a specified duration. Notably, the minor walks out when necessary. For instance, when attending counseling sessions. In this case, the parents and guardians ensure their child serves his/her time without failing.
- Placing The Minor With Another Person —The child may be sent to stay with relatives or a foster home when the judge feels it's not for the child's justice to be sent back home.
- Juvenile Probation —Juvenile court judges may also send a child on probation after staying shortly in a detention center. Below is more information on Juvenile Probation.
- Adult Prisons—Minors found to have committed serious offenses are tried in adult courts then sent to adult jail after they are convicted. The child is then expected to serve their time with other adult offenders for shorter sentences.
- Juvenile Facilities —Juvenile facilities are set aside for high-risk offenders. Children found guilty of committing severe criminals are placed in juvenile facilities for an extended time.
- Blended Sentences—Juvenile court judges may sometimes order a child to stay in a Juvenile facility until they attain legal age then be sent to adult prison. This happens when the minor is facing charges after committing a serious offense.
Non- Incarceration Punishment
Juvenile courts determine the punishment to be given to minor offenders based on their criminal history and the severity of the committed offense. Apart from the given confinement punishment, below are the punishments that don't involve incarceration:
- Verbal Warning —When a child commits a minor offense, the judge may decide to dismiss the child with a verbal warning.
- Fines—When the offense committed includes a victim, the minor may be required to pay fines for the victim's restitution.
- Counseling —When the judge feels counseling may rectify the minor’s behavior, the minor may be expected to attend counseling sessions.
- Electronic Monitoring —The juvenile court may order the minor to wear a wrist bracelet for some time to monitor their whereabouts.
- Community Service —The minor may be ordered to perform specific tasks for several hours daily for the community's service.
What Steps Should a Minor Take After a Sustained Juvenile Petition?
After disposal hearing, the offender may take several actions like:
- Appeal against the court's decision.
- Seek further restrictive disposition.
- Ask to set aside courts order.
- Seek to seal the minor’s records.
If your child is uncomfortable with the process, he/she may file an appeal. For instance, if the child feels their rights were violated, they may file an appeal. Once the child decides to appeal, his/her attorney can help in the process. The court gives the offender sixty days from the disposition hearing to file their appeal. Notably, the child attorney may ask the court to change or cancel the order.
In California, a transfer hearing applies to minors aged sixteen years or above. Notably, when deciding if to refer the minor offender to the adult court, the judge considers several factors. The judge may consider the following:
- The minors previous criminal or delinquent history
- Nature and the seriousness of the case
- The earlier efforts of rehabilitating the juvenile and the impacts
- If it would be possible to rehabilitate the offender before the expiration of court jurisdiction
If your child hasn't reached sixteen years, the court will not transfer the case to a criminal court.
Crimes Tried in Adult Courts
In California, a minor age 16 years may be tried under adult courts. The W&I contains the offenses which may be tried under adult courts. The crimes are:
- Sexual penetration by force
- Rape by threat, force, or violence
- Arson in occupied structure resulting in bodily injuries
- Sodomy using force, threat, or violence
- Attempted murder
- Oral copulation using threat, violence, or force
- Kidnapping for robbery
- Assault by use of force leading to great body injury
- Assault using a firearm or destructive device
- Voluntary manslaughter
- Aggravated mayhem
If your child commits any of the above crimes, California law allows the prosecutor to begin a transfer hearing to criminal court. Notably, the judge determines whether your child will face trial in the adult courts like an adult.
The Work Of Criminal Defense Lawyer In A Sustained Juvenile Petitions
If your child is arrested in Orange County for committing a crime, it would be best to hire a defense attorney to work with you through the whole process. As a parent, you may lack knowledge about the juvenile system. Note that a California attorney familiar with the juvenile system would be the ideal person to work with. The attorney may handle the following issues:
- Defending The Juvenile —A competent defense attorney will build a strong defense and convince the judge to give a more compassionate disposition.
- Preventing The Judge From Transferring The Minor’s Case To Criminal Courts —If your child is arrested for committing a severe crime, the juvenile court may transfer the case for determination. That means the child will face punishment and trial like a grown-up. The child would receive a harsh sentence he/she could receive if tried in juvenile court.
- Having The Case Diverted or Handled Informally —A lawyer may influence the law enforcement officers to deal with the case without sending the child offender to a juvenile center. Therefore if this, your child won't be incarcerated and thus will skip the juvenile criminal record.
- Sealing Juvenile Criminal History —Once the court sustains a juvenile petition, the offender will obtain a criminal history. A criminal record may have consequences. The state’s law may allow you to seal your criminal record. After the court seals a criminal record, the child will have no criminal record after checking their background. Therefore a competent attorney will start the process as soon as the offender completes the probation.
Find an Orange County Criminal Lawyer Near Me
A sustained juvenile petition shows your child has been determined guilty, and the court will punish them for the crime they committed. The consequences may include a criminal record which could affect the child's different aspects of life. However, with the assistance of a competent juvenile attorney, you may avoid those consequences.
If your child is arrested in Orange County, CA, it is essential to hire a defense attorney immediately. At Orange County Criminal Lawyer, we provide the best legal help. We understand the juvenile court systems, and we will convince the juvenile judge for your child to skip harsh penalties. Call us today at 714-262-4833 and speak with our attorneys for the best legal services.