You will likely feel helpless and overwhelmed when your child is arrested for a crime. Facing the justice system, whether juvenile or adult, can be intimidating. Typically, every parent expects their child to grow well, attend school, finish college, and secure the right job. Even though you intend for your children to have a better life in the future, they could end up getting arrested and charged.
Crimes associated with children are charged in the Juvenile Justice System. At the Michele Ferroni Pasadena Criminal Attorney Law Firm, our attorneys can advise you, protect your rights, and help your child seek justice.
Overview Of The Juvenile Justice System
Children commit crimes (both minor and severe) and execute these crimes just as adults do. Fortunately, the law protects minors and seeks to rehabilitate rather than punish them. Any individual under 18 is a child under California law and cannot make sound decisions. Therefore, if a child faces criminal charges, they deserve another chance to correct their behavior.
Even if the law protects minors, it must still hold juvenile offenders liable for their actions. A victim of a juvenile crime deserves justice, even if a minor perpetrates the crime. Therefore, young criminals go through the legal procedure, attend court hearings, and have the court determine their cases. Upon committing a crime, a minor goes through a legal process like an adult to decide their case and the repercussions of their actions.
A child is typically under their parent's care. Therefore, a parent is equally affected if a child violates the law. This explains why parents should understand their parental rights in juvenile cases.
The Penalties For Juvenile Crimes Are Less Severe
The penalties for juvenile offenders are not as severe as adult offenders' for similar crimes. Depending on the crime your child commits, the judge could allow you to go home with your child under strict court conditions or choose to detain your child in a juvenile hall. The judge can even release your child but with a stern warning. Judges make rulings based on discretion and depending on the severity of the crime your child commits.
A child is under your care and protection as the legal guardian. You must be involved in the legal process if the child commits an offense. You also have several rights and privileges. You can exercise them to protect your child and safeguard their interests. You should consult a criminal defense attorney to understand these rights. An attorney will guide, advise, and fight to protect your child's interests.
Your Parental Rights In Juvenile Cases
As a parent, your guidance, provision, and protection are crucial to enhancing your child's well-being. Sadly, things do not always go as planned. Your child can engage in unpleasant behaviors and commit crimes, regardless of your care and protection. If this happens, you must ensure the child receives the necessary guidance and support to correct their behavior. Your child typically deserves a second chance to help them change and become the responsible person you and society envision.
If your child is a suspect, your responsibility in the juvenile justice system begins right after their arrest. You must walk with your child through every legal procedure, including a trial in court. Nothing should happen to your child without your knowledge. The law allows you to hire an attorney representing your child's interests. An attorney will ensure that your rights and those of your child are protected.
Parents' rights in juvenile cases include:
Right To Information
As the child's legal guardian, a parent is the child's legal representative until they can represent themselves, usually at age 18. If your child is arrested for engaging in any criminal activity, the police must inform you and disclose the charges the child faces. Your right to information begins at the time of the arrest. After an arrest, the police could release your child immediately or refer the case to probation, depending on the facts of the alleged offense. You have a right to information, irrespective of your child's case's direction.
Law enforcement must inform you of their decisions concerning your child's charges and prepare you for future legal procedures. It can be stressful to be unaware of your child's whereabouts or the circumstances of their case. Keeping you updated helps you make decisions to assist your child's case, including seeking legal counsel.
Law enforcement will likely try to interrogate your child when you are not around to gather as much information as possible. Parents should warn their children that if they ever face an arrest, they must avoid informing the police until they secure legal representation. You should seek the services of a competent criminal attorney as soon as your child is arrested.
Right To Take Your Child Back Home Before Concluding The Case
Juvenile cases involve several processes that could take days, weeks, months, or even years. One day is insufficient for the judge to conclude a case. After an arrest, it will take some time for the judge to hear and either sustain or dismiss the charges against the minor. During this time, the court can decide to put your child behind bars or allow you to take the child home. Whether the judge allows you to take your child or not depends on your child's juvenile delinquency record and the nature of the underlying crime.
Upon arresting a minor, the police take the child to court for a detention hearing. During the hearing, the judge determines whether to release or detain the juvenile. Typically, the law allows you to go home with the child before the case is decided. However, the judge will only allow your child to stay home if circumstances allow. If the judge releases the minor, the parent is responsible for ensuring that the child attends all court-scheduled hearings without fail.
However, the judge could order your child to remain in custody under some circumstances. For example, the judge will detain a child if he/she is a threat to the family or society. The judge could also order your child to be put behind bars if the child has previously violated a court order or escaped from juvenile custody.
Right To Access Files And Reports Regarding Your Child's Case
Court files are always hidden from the public because they are confidential. However, you have a legal right to access every document associated with your child's case, including probation reports and case files. This helps you to know the progress of the case. You can deduce what could happen after the completion of the case.
Apart from yourself, several other people could also access your child's court files and probation reports. They include:
- Child protection agencies.
- State, city, and federal attorneys.
- School officials where your child attends.
- The police.
- Your child's attorney.
Your attorney can assist you in securing copies of all documents regarding your child's case. Your attorney can also help you understand the nature of the charges your child faces and the expected results.
The Right To Be Present During Trial
Once your child is arrested, he/she will likely go through several court hearings before the case is completed. You have the right as a parent to appear in all court hearings. Your court appearance could influence your child's case outcome and assist them in many ways. Your presence will make the child feel your support, even if you do not utter a word during the hearing.
After arrest, your child will first attend the detention hearing. In this proceeding, the court will determine whether to release your child or put them behind bars. You can petition the court to change the date and move it to a more convenient date if you are unavailable. Your opinion will count during this hearing, and the judge could decide based on your statement.
Another crucial hearing you must attend to support your child is the ''disposition hearing''. During this proceeding, the court will evaluate the defense and the prosecutor's evidence to determine your child's case. You must be present to ensure your child's rights are not violated.
You also have to attend a review hearing occasionally if your child is put on probation. During this proceeding, the court will determine whether your child is doing well. The judge could reconsider the initial ruling, depending on progress. For example, if a child currently lives in a community home or other facility, a positive probation report could convince the judge to send the child home under your protection and care.
Right To Confidentiality
No parent would wish for their child to be arrested. An arrest is often a traumatizing incident for everyone related to the child. The child's future could be affected, mainly if the arrest issue keeps recurring after rehabilitation. This is why legal matters involving children need to be treated with the confidentiality they deserve.
Most people with criminal records face immense stigma in society. Therefore, society could stigmatize your child, even if the child was falsely accused and the judge dismissed their criminal charges. Juvenile offenders can face stigmatization for the rest of their lives. This is why you have a right to confidentiality if your child faces criminal charges.
The public should not know that your child is arrested or facing trial. Juvenile proceedings are often confidential, and no member of the public is allowed to attend. It is easier for you to treat your child's issue with the confidentiality it deserves, including the case results.
Confidentiality promotes the reputation and integrity of your child. Society does not need to know the details of your child's case. After the conclusion of a juvenile, you can apply to seal the juvenile record.
Right To Know Your Child's Constitutional Rights
Every person has constitutional rights that should not be violated. Most adult offenders understand their constitutional rights and are always ready to defend them. However, a minor cannot know or understand their constitutional rights. You must protect your child's constitutional rights. You must ensure that you understand these rights.
The fact that your child faces criminal charges does not take away their rights. The law enforcement officers know this but will use any means possible to gather evidence, even if it means interfering with your child's constitutional rights. For example, the police often quickly arrest a juvenile suspected of violating the law. However, California law prohibits the arrest of children under 12. The child will go through the juvenile justice system if they are between twelve and seventeen years. Any individual older than that faces charges in the adult system.
Your child could be traumatized by the arrest and dealing with the police, probation officers, and even the judge. Because of confusion, your child could say incriminating things about themselves or someone else, making the case worse. It will be easy for you to advise and protect your child if you understand their constitutional rights. The legal rights you should know about your child include the following:
Right To Know The Charges After Arrest
Your child has a right to know the charges they face, just like an adult suspect. Having the information before the arrest allows your child to trace back their actions and understand the statute that allows the police to arrest them. Your child will likely cooperate with law enforcement throughout the detention period if they understand the charges. The information could also assist the child in conveying the arrest information to you.
The Police Should Have A Probable Cause Before Arresting Your Child
The police should have probable cause before arresting your child; otherwise, they could make an arbitrary arrest. The police should let your child know the probable cause of the arrest. Failure to do so can attract further investigation into the case and cause suspicion about the arrest. For example, arresting a child without substantial evidence is unlawful. The police must conduct a proper investigation before making an arrest.
An admissible probable cause includes witnessing a child engage in illegal activity or using the appropriate investigation reports to arrest a child. If the police arrest your child without probable cause, you can complain on their behalf.
The Right To Cross-examine Witnesses During The Proceedings
The law allows your child to cross-examine any witness the prosecutor presents to testify against them in court. This right enhances a fair legal process by enabling both parties to argue their positions adequately. An attorney can guide your child on how to cross-examine the witnesses and help them discover the weaknesses in the prosecutor's accusations.
Right To Make a Phone Call
Like adult offenders, children also have a right to call after an arrest. You can file a complaint if you have not heard from your child since their arrest. You can request that the police allow your child to exercise their rights. The law allows the child to make a call following an arrest. When your child calls you after an arrest, you can gather information regarding the arrest and detention process to help you prepare for the case.
The Right To Have Their Charges Proven Beyond A Reasonable Doubt
Just like adults, minors have a right to a fair trial. The prosecutor handling the case must prove a minor's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that the prosecutor should prove all the elements of the crime. The prosecutor's accusations must be accurate and free from bias. Minors must not be accused based on gender, race, or other discriminating criteria. The standard of proof that the prosecutor must meet is relatively high. Your attorney will ensure the prosecutor meets this proof standard to ensure your child has a fair trial.
In certain situations, your child could find themselves in alternative care arrangements, like a foster home. You can take action and file a petition to have your child removed from that placement. The following circumstances grant you the right to take such action:
- Negligent Caregiver, you become aware that the person entrusted with your child's custody fails to provide adequate care.
- Insufficient Basic Needs Your child is deprived of necessities, including sufficient food, clothing, medical attention, or shelter in their new placement.
- Severe Emotional Distress Your child is experiencing significant emotional harm or suffering due to their current situation.
- Abuse and Cruelty — any form of physical or psychological abuse occurs in the new placement.
These cases are relatively uncommon. Probation officers prioritize responsible and caring environments for children. Nonetheless, as a parent, you have the right to petition the authorities if you observe any of the circumstances above taking place.
Making Medical Decisions For Your Child
Your authority to make medical decisions for your child remains intact, even if they have been placed in alternative custody. If your child experiences a medical condition or health issue, it is your right to be notified. You should be consulted before any medical intervention takes place. The court recognizes and respects a parent's religious beliefs in California when making medical decisions. However, certain circumstances could limit your control over these decisions.
For example, if your child develops a mental illness, the court can override your preferences. Medical attention can be provided to your child even against your objections. Similarly, in situations where your child's life is at immediate risk, the authorities can decide without consulting you. For example, if the outcome of their illness is fatal, authorities will prioritize seeking prompt medical assistance to save their lives. In these scenarios, you do not have the right to file a petition to deny these decisions.
Your right to make medical decisions for your child is generally upheld. There are exemptions. Sometimes, the court's intervention becomes necessary to safeguard the child's well-being and preserve their life.
Deciding About Your Child's Education
Even if your child is placed in the care of a foster home or another location, your parental right to decide their educational environment remains intact. You can choose whether your child continues their education at their previous school. All changes relating to the well-being of your child require your consent. People responsible for the well-being of your child must ensure that the child is comfortable, safe, and has all they need. Your child, like any other child, has certain educational rights, including:
- Stable School Placement — the right to a consistent and stable school environment that supports their educational journey.
- Access to Academic Resources —the right to avail themselves of various educational resources necessary for their learning and development.
- Minimal Disruption — the right to attend school with minimal disruptions or unnecessary changes that could negatively affect their educational progress.
- Enrollment in Previous School — the right to enroll in their previous school without being required to change their residence.
- Peer Interaction — the right to enroll in any school that allows them to interact and learn alongside their peers.
The person responsible for your child's custody is obligated to ensure their attendance at school. Additionally, you can determine how your child will commute to school. It can be by school bus, private car, or any other means you consider safe for your child. You can shape your child's learning environment by upholding these educational rights. You can contribute to their academic success and overall well-being.
Other Parental Rights
Other parental rights in juvenile cases include:
- Right to plan for reunification.
- Right to have the child's record sealed.
- A right to hire an attorney for your child.
Find A Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
If your child faces juvenile charges, you must thoroughly understand your rights as a parent. When you know your rights, you can exercise them to negotiate a favorable outcome for your child's case. We invite you to contact the Michele Ferroni Pasadena Criminal Attorney Law Firm if you need reliable legal counsel. Our attorneys will guide you to ensure that you understand your rights. We will help you know how to apply these rights in your child's favor. We have helped many parents to defend their children in juvenile courts with outstanding results. Contact us at 626-628-0564 to speak to one of our attorneys.