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California Juvenile Laws

The juvenile justice system is different from the adult justice system. In Orange County Juvenile Court, the focus is on treatment and rehabilitation for the juvenile while the adult justice system focuses on punishment. However, depending upon the charge, a juvenile can be prosecuted as an adult and be subject to the same penalties as an adult. In a situation where a juvenile is tried as an adult, it usually involves crimes of violence. Juveniles 16 or 17, who commit serious felonies, can be tried as an adult. Also, a juvenile 14 or older being charged with murder can be tried as an adult. However, even if a juvenile is tried as an adult, they are still treated different. There are more options in terms of how and where they are prosecuted and how and where they will serve their sentence.

There was a recent incident where four juveniles were detained after they were seen running from a car that had crashed into a pole. Investigators believed that the car was stolen.

These young individuals are facing serious charges, and at their young age, can affect them for the rest of their lives. As devastating as something like this is to a parent, one of the most important questions a parent can ask themselves is: How do I protect my child? Teens are still not mature enough to stop, think and really consider how serious their actions are and what the consequences might be. Especially if they have never been in trouble with the law and have never had legal consequences. For this reason, it is extremely important that these minors be represented by experienced attorneys, who have experience in not only defending these types of charges, but who are also experienced juvenile defense attorneys.

Once a juvenile is arrested for a crime, there are a few different ways law enforcement may proceed. Here are some examples:

1. Informal contact with parents,
2. Public or private diversion,
3. Citation and referral to probation, and
4. Arrest.

Once the case is submitted to probation, probation has limited discretion whether or not to submit the case to the district attorney or proceed informally. If the case is submitted to the district attorney, they then decide whether to file or dismiss the case. A lawyer, specializing in juvenile criminal matters will be able to advise and guide parents and their child through these procedures.

It is extremely important that, if your child is arrested for a crime, an attorney familiar with the Orange County Juvenile Court should be retained. Being familiar with the Judges, District Attorneys, Court Clerks and Probation Department, will help facilitate the best possible outcome for your child.

It is important to note that if your child has been convicted of a crime, their record should be sealed and/or destroyed. To be eligible for sealing a juvenile record, the child must be 18 years old or 5 years must have passed from the last arrest or discharge from probation.


If your would like to know more about juvenile defense laws, contact criminal defense attorney William M. Weinberg at his Irvine, California office at 949-474-8008 or at www.williamweinberg.com.