Juvenile Court Process
Consult with Our Pasadena And Southern California Juvenile Defense Lawyer Now
Juvenile crimes or juvenile criminal charges can be prosecuted in juvenile court or in adult court, and often depends on the facts, type of crime, or severity of the crime involved. Not only can a juvenile crime have immediate, devastating consequences on the minor and his or her family, but the process of trying these cases be stressful and emotional. These are complex legal processes that can involve the probation department. That is why it is imperative that you contact a criminal defense attorney with experience handling juvenile crimes right away.
At The Law Offices of Paul S. Geller, our Southern California juvenile defense attorney is a former Los Angeles prosecutor with a comprehensive understanding of our local court system. Mr. Geller partners closely with clients and their loved ones as they confront their criminal charges and ensures that their case is navigated toward the best possible outcome throughout every stage of the process.
You do not have to proceed with your child’s case without dedicated counsel in your corner. Call (626) 714-3112 today.
Understanding the Juvenile Court Process in CA
A juvenile crime is categorized as such when the alleged crime occurred prior to the suspect turning 18 years old. Juvenile crimes can be either felonies or misdemeanors, just the same as in adult court. Juvenile strikes, within the meaning of California’s Three Strikes laws, are generally determined as crimes committed if the juvenile was 16 years or older at the time of the offense, with some exceptions if the juvenile was younger.
Once a juvenile is detained (arrested), the parents are then called and advised of the situation. It is critical that during this process, the parties try to refrain from making incriminating statements to police. The days when police would simply investigate a situation and let the parties go home, chalking it up to “kids will be kids”, are generally gone.
Political pressure, liability, and other concerns have forced police agencies to take all precautions if they are called to investigate, and that generally includes interviewing the juvenile, and eventually bringing the suspect into the court process. Juveniles have the same constitutional rights that adults do, and this includes the “the right to remain silent,” the right to ask for a lawyer (or parent), etc. If your son or daughter is being investigated, contact a lawyer BEFORE discussing the case with the investigators.
Following the Arrest
Once detained (arrested), a juvenile can either be detained or cited to the parents. The first appearance in court is called the detention hearing. For serious offenses or violent crimes, the prosecuting agency may do a “direct file” to adult court, or they can hold a “fitness hearing” requesting that the case be sent up to adult court even if it started in juvenile court. If the case goes to adult court, it follows the normal procedures of criminal procedure in adult court, regardless of the juvenile’s age.
If the case stays in juvenile court, a jurisdictional hearing is set. This is the equivalent of a trial. In juvenile court, there is no right to a jury trial, only a court trial, meaning the judge or juvenile referee will hear the case. If the juvenile is found to have committed the offenses in the petition, a dispositional hearing is set, which is similar to sentencing in adult court.
Criminal Court vs Juvenile Court
There are critical differences in juvenile court, such as no right to bail, probation and sentencing differences, options for house arrest and alternative sentences, some different rights regarding searches and seizures, interviews and evaluations by the probation department, etc. This is why it is critical that you hire a criminal defense attorney with knowledge of all of these alternative proceedings. We can help you.
Don’t hesitate—our firm is ready to take a proactive approach to your child’s case. Contact us today to request a free case evaluation.