What is a Juvenile Crime?
In California, any criminal act committed by a minor (an individual below the age of 18), is a juvenile crime and will generally be prosecuted in the Juvenile Court system. The intent of the juvenile courts, as opposed to the adult Superior Courts, is to rehabilitate the minor rather than punishing them for their criminal act. However, the consequences the minor faces in juvenile court depends on the seriousness of the crime and the criminal history of the child.
A minors case may be dealt with as a juvenile delinquency matter, which means it involves the alleged commission of a crime the same as if an adult had committed the offense. A minors case may also be dealt with as a status offenses, which means the offense was one that is against the law because it was committed by a minor. These types of juvenile status offenses include truancy (skipping school), curfew violations, running away from home.
Juvenile Crime Penalties
A juvenile misdemeanor conviction can result in the minor being placed on probation with various probation terms; electronic monitoring; detention in a juvenile facility like boot camp or ranch; fine, or a combination of all of the above. A felony conviction could be much more serious and include penalties such as imprisonment in a state institution like the California Youth Authority, community service, house arrest, probation, detention in Juvenile Hall, and other severe penalties.
California Juvenile Court is very different from adult criminal court. Juvenile Court has a unique set of rules and procedures. For example, discretion whether to charge an offense as a misdemeanor or a felony lies with the prosecutor. Also, dismissals can occur at any stage in the process. Arresting police officers, juvenile hall intake officers, detention officers, and other probation officers all have the authority to completely close a juvenile case or mandate informal probation before the case goes to court.
Some Minors May Be Charges as Adults!
In cases involving a serious felony or violence, the court may decide to send the juvenile to adult court and try him or her as an adult. This decision is left up to the juvenile court judge and the prosecutor. A minor may be tried as an adult depending on the severity of the crime, the sophistication of the offense and the way it was committed, the probability of rehabilitation for the minor, and the minors criminal history.
If it’s determined that the minor should be tried as an adult, the juvenile case is dismissed and the prosecutor brings a regular criminal case to adult court, where the punishment can be state prison or the California Youth Authority (CYA).
Don’t Waste Time. Hire an Attorney Today.
If your child is charged with a juvenile crime and you contact the Law Offices of Chester & Lewkowicz immediately, you may be able to get your child’s case dismissed in its initial stages! In some cases a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney may be able to minimize the juvenile offense charges your child faces and handle the case before your child faces significant penalties.
Without an experienced juvenile crime defense lawyer, your child could go through needless juvenile court proceedings and could wrongfully end up in juvenile hall, boot camp, detention ranch or even the California Youth Authority (state prison for juveniles).