Having your child convicted for a crime can be devastating. Before, courts handled juvenile delinquency cases informally, unlike now when juvenile convictions are held seriously and may have adverse effects on the minor’s life in the future. If a minor is convicted, they may be denied a driving license and may also be denied employment. This mainly happens if the minor had committed a serious crime like murder or was found in possession of marijuana.

If the minor has been found guilty, they are likely to face probation, pay fines, be sent to a juvenile prison, or be tried as an adult if they had committed a serious crime. The juvenile court has jurisdiction to try minors between ten and seventeen years. It is essential to seek immediate help from a juvenile crime defense lawyer if your child has been arrested or is under investigation. The Michele Ferroni Pasadena Criminal Attorney Law Firm in Pasadena has professionally trained and skilled attorneys who are ready to fight for your child’s rights and defend them aggressively.

The Juvenile Delinquency Court System

In most cases, when a minor below 18 years is arrested for breaking the law, they appear in delinquency court. After an arrest, the arresting officer carries out some investigation and determines if the minor will be released or if they will be detained in the juvenile hall.

If a minor is arrested, the arresting officer can decide to:

  • Record the arrest and set the young one free
  • Make the young one return to the police station
  • Refer the minor to an agency that will counsel, shelter, and take care of them
  • Give the minor and their guardian a notice to appear in court
  • Detain the minor in juvenile hall

Before the arresting officer investigates the minor, they must read the “Miranda rights” to the young adult to know their legal rights.  Here are some of the rights included in the Miranda rights:

  • The young one can remain silent
  • The young one is also entitled to have an attorney. If the minor’s guardian cannot afford to pay for a lawyer, the court will appoint a lawyer for the minor at the initial hearing
  • The young one is also notified that any information they share can be used against them in court

Parental Responsibilities after a Child’s Arrest

When your child is arrested, you have some legal rights as a parent. If your child caused damage, you might also be entitled to financial responsibilities. If the court orders restitution, you have to pay the victim. Restitution is an amount that is meant to compensate the victim for the damage caused by your child. For instance, if your child stole something, you may have to get it back, and if the victim was injured, you might have to cater for the medical bills. Other charges may include the lawyer’s fee and fees if your child has been sent to the department of corrections and rehabilitation.

Parents also have legal rights like being notified once their child has been detained. The police have also to inform the teenager’s parents where the minor has been arrested and the reason behind the detainment. The parent should also be informed of the rights the child has.

If the minor has been detained for a severe crime, the police will issue a report to the District Attorney, who will formally file the allegations with the court. The filling is known as the petition, and it can contain various allegations against the child, such as drug possession or theft.

The Probation Department Notice

If you receive a notice from the probation department, make sure you read it carefully. Most probation notices ask the minor and the parent to meet the probation officer at the probation department. At the meeting, the probation officer may decide to:

  • Lecture the minor and then set them free
  • Place the minor on a voluntary program instead of sending them to court. The voluntary program can either be community service, counseling, or classes. If the minor completes the program, they will not be sent to court. The parent may also be asked to sign a contract stating the minor’s activities.
  • Forward the case to the District Attorney and send the child home. The District Attorney may decide to file a petition or not.
  • Detain the minor and forward the case to the District Attorney.

Delinquency Hearing

There will be various judicial hearings depending on the minor’s case type and their ability to deny the accusations. There are some factors that the court will consider during the hearings, and these factors can affect the charges the minor will face. They include:

  • The minor’s criminal history
  • The severity of the crime, and
  • The minor’s age

After the hearings, the court can order that the minor:

  • Remain with the guardian (S) but under supervision of the court
  • Put on probation. The young one can stay in a foster home or institution or remain with a responsible relative
  • Put on probation in a probation camp
  • Taken to the (Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Division of Juvenile Justice), or if the minor were tried as an adult, they would be taken to the (California Department of  Corrections and Rehabilitation, Division of Adult Operations)

Detention Hearing

After the court receives a petition from the DA alleging that the minor has committed an offense, it will file the petition, forward the case to a delinquency courtroom, and notify its parents. The first court appearance is known as a “detention hearing” if the child has been held at the juvenile hall. During the detention hearing, if the minor does not have an attorney, the court will appoint one for them and then evaluate the evidence provided by the DA for the case. After the evaluation, the court will determine whether the minor needs to be detained to protect them and the community or not. A minor cannot request or post bail.

If the minor is not in custody, the parents will be sent a notice of hearing for the (initial court hearing). It is crucial to read the notice to appear with caution not to miss when and where the minor’s first court appearance will take place—the minor must check-in after they arrive in court at the Juvenile Check-in Desk. The receptionist will note down the minor’s name and the parent(S) who has accompanied him and then be directed to the courtroom they will report to. There could be several hearings happening, so it may take a few hours before your case is heard.

Regardless of whether the minor is in custody, the court must evaluate if the case should be tried in adult criminal court. If the court finds that the case warrants a trial in adult court, they will set another hearing date to determine if it needs to be tried in adult court. This hearing is known as the (Section 707 Fitness Hearing). For a minor to be tried in an adult criminal court, they must be above 14 years and have committed a serious offense.

The first appearance hearing begins with the court telling the minor the reason for their detainment or why they were ordered to appear in court. The court also notifies the minor and their parents to have a lawyer and what is likely to happen at the hearing.

Just as adults can plead “not guilty” in an adult court, the minor can also consent to the allegations. The teenager can question the individuals who gave information at the detention hearing as well as those who prepared the evidence. They also have the right to present witnesses and more evidence to support their side of the story. But the court has to believe that the petition is valid for this hearing only. It is upon the court to decide the most suitable place for the minor to stay. The minor can be detained at the juvenile hall or put on home supervision.

Here is are reasons why the court may choose to take the minor out of their home:

  • The court wants to protect the property or another person
  • The young one disobeyed the court order
  • The child would disappear if he/she was set free
  • The child would escape the residential program or detention center.
  • The minor needs to be protected for the following reasons:
  1. They may be addicted to alcohol or drugs
  2. They lack enough safety
  3. They have physical or mental problems
  4. They committed a severe offense

If the court decides to hold the minor in custody, their lawyer can request another hearing known as the rehearing. During this hearing, the child and their lawyer will present new evidence proving why the minor should be free.

If the minor admits to having committed the crime as stated in the petition, the court will immediately set a dispositional hearing or order appropriate sanctions.

Pre-Trial Hearing

The main reason behind this hearing is to determine if there is a way to conclude the case without a trial. If the court and attorneys decide that the court has to go to trial, the court has to check if the attorneys are ready for a trial. A pre-trial hearing which is also known as the status conference does not always happen. If the court and attorneys decide that there is no need for one, it does not happen.

Jurisdictional Hearing

A jurisdiction hearing takes place so that the judge can determine if the minor committed the crime. If the judge concludes that the young one is guilty of the crime, this conclusion will give the young one to the court. Just like the adult criminal trial, the DA will present evidence and witnesses to show that the minor is guilty of committing the crime. The lawyer representing the young one can also present evidence and witnesses to prove that the minor did not commit the crime.

If the minor remains in custody after the detention hearing, a jurisdiction hearing must be carried out within 15 days following the detention hearing. If the minor was not detained after the detention hearing, a jurisdiction hearing must be carried out within 30 days following the arrest.

At the start of the jurisdiction hearing, the judge will read out the petition and explain what is stated in it. The judge also briefs people on the possible outcomes of the hearing. The judge also notifies the minor’s guardians that they may be ordered to pay some fines or restitution. It’s upon the judge to ensure that the minor fully understands the charges and the possible outcomes. The judge then questions the childLike if the allegations stated on the petition are true or false. The young one can either:

  • Admit that the allegations are true
  • Deny and consent to the DA’s proof

Just as in the detention hearing, the DA will issue the court proof to support the allegation. The attorney representing the minor can choose to:

  • Object the evidence
  • Cross-examine the witnesses
  • Argue the case to the court, and
  • Present evidence and witness

Note that the minor has the right to remain silent just as adults in the adult criminal court. After evaluating the evidence, the judge concludes if the allegations listed in the petition are true or not. If the judge concludes that the claims are valid, a dispositional hearing is set. If the minor is in custody, it is set within ten days or 30 days following the filing of the petition.

Disposition Hearing

During the disposition hearing, the judge looks at the best way to cater for the minor’s treatment, care, and guidance while still including the punishment. Before this hearing, the probation officer will prepare a social study and distribute it to every party present at the disposition hearing.

Here are some of the information included in the study:

  • The minor’s criminal history
  • The minor’s school and family history
  • A victim’s statement if the minor is being charged with a felony
  • Recommendation from the probation department

Note that this information helps the judge to decide the best punishment for the minor. The DA and the minor can still present more evidence to help the judge make a decision. The alleged victim can also submit a written or oral statement to the court. The judge has to keep the following in mind:

  • How to ensure the community is protected and is safe
  • How to remedy the injuries and losses of the victim
  • The most suitable course of action to ensure the well-being of the minor

After every party has presented their evidence, the court may decide to:

  • Set aside the court findings and dismiss the case. This mainly happens if the judge decides that it’s suitable for the minor and necessary for the interest of justice or if the minor does not require any rehabilitation or treatment.
  • Place the minor on informal probation for up to 6 months
  • Set the young adult as a ward of the court. It is upon the judge to decide how much control the guardian has over the young one. The judge also makes decisions in place of the guardian.

If the minor is made a ward of the court, the court can decide to do the following:

  • Place the young one on home probation under supervision
  • Allow the young adult to go live with a close family member
  • Place the young adult in an institution or foster care
  • Take the young one to the Juvenile Justice Division
  • Place the young adult in a boot camp or a local detention facility

If the judge took the young one from their home and placed them in foster care or a relative’s home, the court has the right to review the place often.

It is also upon the judge to decide the amount of time the young one will spend in the placement. They also set rules for the minors if they have been put on probation. Although the rules may be harsh, they must be reasonable. The young one may also be forced to give up some of their rights. Here are some of the most common rules that most judges set for the young ones on probation:

  • They must always attend school
  • They must obey the law
  • They are expected to stick to a curfew
  • They are banned from seeing certain people
  • They are expected to take part in community service
  • They may be searched without a warrant from time to time
  • They must undertake a drug test
  • They are expected to attend counseling together with their guardian
  • Attend a work program for free
  • Pay fines or restitution to the alleged victims

After the Disposition Hearing

Here is a list of things that take place following the end of the case:

  • Appeal — If the young one is not content with the results or feels that the judge did not consider their rights, their attorney can appeal. If the young one decides to appeal, their attorney must file an appeal notice. They are supposed to do this within 60 days following the disposition hearing. The District Attorney may also decide to appeal.
  • Request for the court order change — The young one may request the judge to cancel or change the court orders. This happens if there is new evidence or if the situation of the young one has changed.
  • Stricter Disposition — If the young one is not obeying the rules set by the court, they may be forced to return to court to get a more restrictive sentence.
  • Request to seal the criminal records of the young adult — If the young adult has no convictions in the juvenile court after five years, they can request the court to seal their records if the last conviction ended at the probation officer’s office. But if their original hearing was in the presence of a judge, they can only request their records to be sealed only when they are 18 years. Here are some of the records that the minor can request to be closed:
  1. The probation records
  2. The court files
  3. Any arrest records
  4. Records of another party with the case’s records.

For the judge to make a concrete decision, they will have to consider the following:

  • The offense that the young one committed
  • If the young one completed their sentence and is on rehabilitation
  • If the court has active lawsuits concerning the case.

Fitness Hearing

Before the jurisdiction hearing, the District Attorney can request a fitness hearing to determine if the young one is fit to be tried in a juvenile court. This happens if the minor is facing charges for a serious offense and the District Attorney’s aim is to find out if the young adult is old enough to be tried in an adult court.

The court will also request the probation office to find out how the young one reacts to different situations and social history. The aim of this is for the judge to see whether the juvenile’s programs, treatment, and care will work well with the young adult. After the investigation, the probation officer tells the court if the minor should be tried as an adult.

Every party present at the hearing will be issued with any evidence from the minor and their attorney, as well as a copy of this report. The court then considers the following before making a decision:

  • The severity of the crime
  • If the young are likely to improve if rehabilitated
  • The past criminal history of the young one
  • If the minor had been rehabilitated before, what was the outcome

After the DA concludes that the young one should be tried in juvenile court, they move to the jurisdiction hearing. But if the DA decides that the young one be tried in adult court, the petition will be dismissed, and the young one will be sent to adult court.

Find a Juvenile Pasadena Defense Attorney Near Me

It is crucial to reach out to a criminal defense attorney immediately if you have a child facing juvenile charges. We at the Michele Ferroni Pasadena Criminal Attorney Law Firm in Pasadena have attorneys who are experienced with juvenile delinquency cases and are ready to defend the rights of your child. Contact us at 626-628-0564 for a free consultation.