San Bernardino juvenile criminal defense lawyer serving Pomona, Victorville, Fontana, Rancho Cucamonga & all of San Bernardino County
If your child was arrested, you may be nervous about what could happen to your child. It is important that you work with an attorney experienced in juvenile defense work, as juvenile and adult criminal work are different in many important ways. Your child needs an attorney who knows juvenile law, not a criminal defense attorney who occasionally handles juvenile cases. Marcie Gardner has that experience.
OVERVIEW OF THE PROCESS
After your child is arrested or receives a citation for court, law enforcement will send their investigative reports to the District Attorney’s Office. That office will review the reports and decide whether or not to file a “petition” charging your child with a crime. If your child was detained when arrested, the Probation Department will generally notify you of your child’s court date. Otherwise, your child’s court date is listed on the citation.
At the first hearing, your child’s attorney will receive a copy of the police report. If your child is detained, an attorney can ask the judge to release your child. This is called a “detention hearing,” and the judge can keep your child detained, release him on house arrest, or release her outright. If the case is not filed within 48 court hours of your child’s detention, your child is entitled to be released. If the case was timely filed, only a judge has the power to release a juvenile. Juveniles are not entitled to bail. If the judge does not release your child at the detention hearing, an attorney can request it later only if a “change of circumstance” exists which the judge did not realize earlier.
Hiring an experienced juvenile attorney such as Marcie Gardner before your child’s first appearance may make all the difference in whether your child is released at this hearing. Your child either “admits” or “denies” the charges in a petition. The safest course of action at the first hearing is to deny the petition. This gives an attorney time to work on the best outcome for your child’s case. Your child may have a series of court dates depending on the strategy for his/her case.
Juvenile court has many options for resolving cases depending on the age of the child and the type of offense involved. Your child also has the right to have a trial. Unlike adult court, your child is not entitled to a jury trial. The juvenile judge decides whether your child committed the crime(s) charged. Juveniles are not “convicted” of crimes. They suffer “adjudications” instead. Juveniles are not given “sentences” in court. Instead, a judge decides on a “disposition” for them after reviewing a report prepared by the Probation Department about the child’s and family’s background.
Once your child turns 18, you need to take steps to seal your child’s juvenile court records.
POSSIBLE OUTCOMES IN JUVENILE COURT
More so than adult court, juvenile court judges have a wide-range of potential alternatives when faced with a child accused of committing a crime. Examples include:
- Informal Probation: For less serious offenses (and typically for younger offenders), the court can continue the case for six months and ask the child to perform certain tasks during that time. At the end of six months, the court can dismiss the petition if the child performed satisfactorily. The court can give the minor additional time to complete the tasks if necessary. The child does not need to admit to committing any crime to be eligible for this program, but this type of probation is not available for all minors.
- DEJ (Deferred Entry of Judgment): Minors at least 14 years old who are charged with a felony may be eligible for DEJ. This means that a minor admits to felony conduct and is placed on a form of probation supervision for one year. If the child satisfactorily performs, the court will dismiss the case after one year. The arrest is deemed never to have occurred, and all records are sealed. Again, this program is not available to all minors.
- Probation: Minors with misdemeanor or felony adjudications can be placed on supervised probation, generally lasting one year.
- Juvenile Hall: Although not favored, juveniles can be ordered to spend a certain amount of time in juvenile hall (often referred to as “Ricardo M.” time).
- Placement: Juvenile court judges have the power to remove juveniles from their homes to live in a placement facility with other minors, run by a third party provider. Lengths of placements vary, as do their locations (some are out of state). Once the child successfully completes placement, they are re-united with their family on probation.
- DJJ (Division of Juvenile Justice): Reserved for the most serious offenses or repeat offenders, a juvenile court judge has the power to confine your child in DJJ, which is essentially prison for minors. Please note that the Governor’s proposed budget would eliminate DJJ.
“ADULT-LIKE” CONSEQUENCES IN JUVENILE COURT
Some more recent laws have imposed serious consequences on juveniles in certain types of cases. For example:
- Children age 16 and above can suffer “strikes.” This means that if they admit or a judge finds that they committed certain types of serious offenses, their juvenile record can be used against them later to increase their punishment.
- In certain cases, minors may be ordered to register as sex offenders or gang members.
- Children age 14 and above facing very serious charges may have their cases transferred to adult court. If so, their cases are no longer treated as juvenile cases.
- For certain serious cases, a juvenile court proceeding may be open to the public and the adjudication is a matter of public record. Certain offenses cannot be sealed.
- For many types of offenses, a minor’s privilege to drive can be suspended for up to one year (or ability to get a license delayed by one year).
When working with Marcie Gardner, your initial consultation is always free of charge. No fee whatsoever. To contact San Bernardino drug crimes attorney Gardner, please call 909.635.2047. Because of these consequences, it is critical to hire an experienced juvenile attorney with a proven track record, such as Marcie Gardner.
Please call today.