Juvenile Defense Lawyer
Juvenile Defense Attorney Santa Rosa CA
If your child has been accused of or charged with a crime, an experienced juvenile defense attorney can help you. Contact juvenile attorney Johann Hall today to get started defending your child’s case.
The Juvenile Court System in California
In California, the juvenile court system is actually set up as part of the civil law system, not the criminal law system. The applicable section of California law that governs juvenile delinquency proceedings is Section 602 of the Welfare and Institutions Code. Juvenile delinquency proceedings are sometimes referred to as “Section 602 Proceedings.” Because these cases involve minors, there are no juries involved, only the judge rules on the case. In general, these types of proceedings are confidential.
Juveniles are Not Necessarily Found Guilty or Innocent
One major difference from criminal court is that in juvenile delinquency proceedings, the minor is not found to be guilty or innocent. Rather, if the judge determines that the juvenile committed the alleged crime beyond a reasonable doubt, the judge will rule the petition filed by the prosecuting attorney “sustained.” There are a number of different dispositions or sentences that can be given by the judge to a minor in juvenile court. Depending on the crime and the facts of the case, the judge may order informal probation, which would allow the charges to be dismissed after successful completion of the program.
Wards of the Court
When the judge designates the minor a “ward of the court,” that means that the court is taking over responsibility for treatment and control of the minor. A minor can be allowed to serve out probation at home, however, even if he or she is a ward of the court. The judge may also decide that the minor should be placed in foster care, a county probation camp, or in a group home.
Goal of Rehabilitation
One difference between punishments in the juvenile system and criminal court system is that the main goal in juvenile court is to rehabilitate the minor. While rehabilitation is also a goal in criminal court, it is the more primary goal for minors. Ideally, once the minor serves the terms of his or her sentence, they will develop some of the life tools necessary to stay out of trouble in the future and remain on the path to becoming a productive member of society.
Division of Juvenile Justice
The Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) is a part of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. This division used to be referred to as the California Youth Authority, or “CYA.” The DJJ is a grouping of correctional facilities for minors in the state of California. In general, the minors who are detained at this facility range from 12-25 years old. The facility’s goal is to train and educate the minors so that they can go back into society with awareness and a sense of accountability for what they had done. The California Department of Education provides vocational training courses for the minors.
Who Can Be Tried in Juvenile Court?
In general, minors under the age of 18 can be tried in juvenile court in California. Even if the individual was a minor at the time of the alleged crime and the court does not end up trying the case until that individual has turned 18 or older, the case may still be heard in juvenile court.
However, there are certain exceptions to this rule. If the minor is 14 years of age or older and is accused of a very serious crime, such as murder, forcible rape, or certain other serious crimes that resulted in severe bodily harm, the minor will be charged in adult criminal court.
There are also a variety of other offenses that may be tried in adult criminal court rather than in juvenile court, depending on the circumstances of the crime. For this reason, it is important to speak with an experienced juvenile defense attorney regarding your child’s case.