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:
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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