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Articles Posted in Juveniles

Deferred Entry of Judgment, or DEJ, is part of Proposition 21, which was passed by California voters in 2000. DEJ is a sentencing alternative to the juvenile delinquency process. What it does is it allows minors who are charged with at least one felony to become eligible for a probation program. The minor must admit the charge(s) and successfully complete the DEJ probation and the Court will dismiss the case. Along with the dismissal, the Court will order the case sealed and the minor’s arrest is deemed never to have occurred.

Basic eligibility criteria for DEJ was established by Proposition 21 and if the minor meets the criteria, a hearing of held to determine whether the minor would benefit from DEJ. The benefits of DEJ are as follows:

1. It would provide immediate consequences for the minor’s actions and behavior. If the minor is not held accountable in some way for their actions, they may not realize the seriousness of the case and are therefore at risk for future problems.

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.

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I frequently get calls from young men and women who are trying to get a job and have found that their history in juvenile court has become a problem. I find that people are under the impression that their juvenile record is automatically sealed and destroyed after the age of 18 years. What they don’t realize, is that this won’t automatically happen until after you reach the age of 38.

Welfare and Institutions Code, Section 826 provides that, if you have not petitioned the court for an order to seal and destroy your record, it will automatically be destroyed after you reach the age of 38. However, between the ages of 18 and 38, most young adults will apply for several jobs and run the risk of being turned down if their past history is revealed. My advise to young adults is always that they seek to have their record sealed and destroyed as soon as the law allows. Often times, young people don’t realize that their juvenile history is accessible until a prospective employer advises them. If this is how it is discovered, usually the chances of being hired are slim to none.

Welfare and Institutions Code, Sections 389 and 781 provides that juvenile court records, as well as arrest records, may be sealed and destroyed once one of the following has occurred:

One of parents’ worst nightmares is to find out that their son or daughter has been arrested and/or detained by the Police. Once the initial shock has worn off, a parent goes into immediate protection mode. The question most parents ask themselves is what do I do to protect my child. This is the correct frame of mind for a parent to be in. Juveniles make mistakes and most have never known, or been exposed to legal consequences. Preserving your child’s record, so that their college goals and future employment are not affected negatively, is the first priority.

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, there are crimes in which a juvenile can and must be prosecuted as an adult and be subject to the same penalties as an adult. Welfare & Institutions Code Section 602 explains that if a minor is accused of certain violent crimes, they must be tried as an adult. Here is a list of crimes that fall in this category:

1. Murder – It must be alleged that the minor personally murdered another;
2. The following sex crimes, if the prosecution alleges certain other allegations referred to in Penal Code section 667.61:

a. Rape;
b. Forcible sex offenses in concert with another;
c. Forcible lewd and lascivious acts on a child under the age of 14;
d. Forcible sexual penatration;
e. Sodomy or oral copulation by force, violence, menace, duress or fear;
Other “violent crimes”, as well as some of the above crimes, may be prosecuted as an adult but the determination is based on the following:

a. The severity of the offense
b. The past criminal history of the minor;
d. Whether or not the minor can be rehabilitated;
e. The sophistication of the alleged crime.

In a situation where a juvenile is tried as an adult, as noted above, it involves crimes of violence. 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.

Once a juvenile is arrested for a crime, there are a few different ways law enforcement may proceed. (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. An Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney, 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 Juvenile Court system 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, the child must be 18 years old or 5 years must have passed from the last arrest or discharge from probation.

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Last week, at A.E. Wright Middle School in Calabasas, five junior high students were kicked by fellow students. These attacks came after a Facebook group sent a message around to students claiming it was “Kick a Ginger Day” which meant students were supposed to kick redheads at their school. Police believe the kids got the idea from a “South Park” TV episode. No arrests were made and it is unclear if these suspects will be prosecuted.

Committing a crime against someone based on their hair color may be viewed as a hate crime. It’s likely, though, that these suspects will be treated informally by the court, rather than be charged with a crime since they were so young and likely had no prior criminal record. Juveniles are increasingly prosecuted more frequently because parents cannot or will not supervise their own children and teach acceptable social values. Now the courts deal with misbehavior and crime, a task for which they are ill-suited. Whether you live in Laguna Hills, Orange, or Yorba Linda, if your child has been charged with assault or battery, call an experienced criminal defense attorney right away to assist you.

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If a minor is caught spraying graffiti or tagging property, they will be charged with a misdemeanor. In Santa Ana this week, the city council voted to adopt a law that will also make parents liable for their child’s crimes. Not only will the minor have to pay fines, restitution and do community service, but the parents will also be forced to do community service with their child. If parents do not pay or participate in their child’s punishment, they will be taken to civil court by the city and be forced to pay.

These spray-pay laws were enforced because Santa Ana has been majorly affected by graffiti and tagging by rival gang members. Getting the parents involved may help deter this behavior because children will know that their parents will also have to suffer the consequences of their criminal behavior. These tough laws will likely be followed by other cities plagued by graffiti problems, like Garden Grove, Westminster and Fullerton. If you get charged with graffiti or tagging, you will need an experienced attorney to help lower fines, restitution and community service hours.

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At the Block at Orange and the surrounding areas on Thursday night, police nabbed 29 juveniles who were in violation of city curfew ordinances. The city of Orange has a curfew ordinance that restricts minors from being out without their parents between the hours of 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. The curfew sweep was conducted by the Orange Police Department and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. Once the minors were found in violation, they were taken to the police station and told to wait until their parents came to pick them up. The consequences of violating a curfew ordinance could be misdemeanor charges and jail time for either the parent or the child. In this sweep, none of the parents or children were charged because the police department wanted to send a warning to the community.

The reason that many cities have curfew ordinances is to help prevent crime, gang association and youth victimization. Whether you live in Irvine, Fullerton, or Foothill Ranch, each city has a curfew ordinance of about 10 p.m. Normally, police will just warn the juvenile and call the juvenile’s parents to come pick them up. Sometimes however, if the police think that juvenile is up to no good, they may request charges to be pressed against the minor for a curfew violation. An experienced attorney will likely be able to fight the charges and make sure the incident is not recorded on the minor’s criminal record.

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Last week I posted on the sexting “epidemic” among U.S. teens, citing a statistic that one of five teenagers have shared nude pictures of themselves via cell phone or online. Now, reports are surfacing that show that those alarming statistics are inflated.

The Wall Street Journal reports claim that statistic, which was generated by CosmoGirl.com and The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, may be exaggerated because the same teenagers who have engaged in such behavior could be the ones most likely to say they have done so in an online poll. In other words, the sample was skewed towards those likely to be on the internet to begin with. Sources say that cohort might two to four times more likely to send nude photos of themselves than the average teen. The criticism of the study is that it didn’t poll teens by phone or by mail, which would make the group sampled more representative of the population.

So what’s the reality of teens and texting? Probably something probably less than the one in five statistic, but it may be nearly impossible to get information from teens by any other means but the internet. The chance that Janie or Johnnie will respond to a phone call on Mom and Dad’s landline regarding posting nude pictures of themselves on the web seems unlikely.

Two juveniles are in custody relating to allegations of a litany of street robberies committed over a one-month period in the Silver Lake and Echo Park areas of Los Angeles. The crimes appear to be gang related.

The L.A. Daily News reports that this weekend, LAPD gang officers arrested two juvenile gang members for allegedly committing a series of street robberies in late December and throughout January of this year. The suspects in the robberies targeted lone men walking on the street between midnight and 3:30 a.m. during this month-long time period.

Reports say that police served a search warrant at one of the juvenile’s residence and evidence recovered may be related to the robberies. Some of the items recovered included cellular phones, walkie-talkies, and several knives and guns that are believed to have been used during the commission of some of the Los Angeles robberies.

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He may have changed, but he’ll have a lot of time to reflect on what happened. That’s the future (at least 15-17 more years) for Sam Nelson, a drug-addicted kid who killed his neighbor in a vicious attack. Judge Frank Fasel felt there was no middle ground and maxed him out. http://www.ocregister.com/articles/thompson-nelson-fasel-2007781-home-knew
This is the growing and disturbing trend in juvenile law. Treating kids as adults, punishing them as adults. But more and more studies show that kids can’t make decisions as well as adults because their brains aren’t ready to do so. http://www.tresearch.org/headlines/2008Jan_TeenBrain.pdf
Locking kids up earlier and earlier, for longer and longer terms won’t solve the problem. One solution is to provide county governments with resources to study and treat kids earlier in their lives to avoid these crimes from occurring. http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=9747&page=107 With any luck, and a realization that incarcerating ever-younger kids isn’t helping, we may be able to treat kids as kids, and help them realize a brighter future.