A person who is under the age of 18 and charged with a crime is often sent to juvenile court for legal proceedings. The juvenile court system is separate from the adult criminal court system in California, and it comes with its own set of rules and procedures. The juvenile court system is designed to mainly focus on the rehabilitation and education of minors as opposed to the adult system that often focuses on punishment. However, in many cases a minor does face the possibility of being incarcerated for his crimes in juvenile court. California separates juvenile crimes into two categories: status offenses and delinquency crimes.
Types of Juvenile Crimes
A status offense is something that would normally be legal but for the minor’s age when engaging in the act. These types of offenses include truancy, possession and consumption of alcohol, driving a vehicle without a license, running away, and curfew violations. Status offenses are the lesser of the two categories when it comes to the seriousness of crimes for juveniles, and the goals of the juvenile court in these cases are to preserve the family, ensure public safety, and prevent minors from engaging in future delinquencies or crimes.
A delinquency crime is an offense committed by a minor that is considered a crime regardless of age because the minor violated a criminal statute. Delinquency crime covers a wide range of criminal acts and is considered the greater of the two categories when it comes to the seriousness of crimes for juveniles. Because of this the punishments for delinquency crimes also cover a wide range from verbal warnings to incarceration in adult facilities.
Juvenile Court System in California
The California Welfare & Institutions Code provides the rules and procedures for juvenile court. When a minor is arrested in California, the arresting officer can either issue a warning or deliver the minor to juvenile hall for detention and interrogation. After arrest, the minor is entitled to a detention hearing in front of a judge in order to determine whether the minor can go home with his parents before the trial. Juvenile courts do not have jury trials, and a judge decides at trial whether the minor is guilty of his crimes. If the minor is over the age of 14 the prosecutor may decide to try him as an adult. After the trial, there is a chance for a person to get his juvenile record sealed or destroyed based on the seriousness of the crime and length of time since the minor has left the juvenile system to prevent it from causing personal, financial, or employment issues in the future. At every stage of the juvenile court process a minor has rights that can be protected by a good juvenile defense attorney.
Juvenile Defense Attorneys Can Help
If your loved one has been arrested as a minor and charged with a crime in the Humboldt, Del Norte, or Trinity County areas it is important to take action as soon as possible. The attorneys at Russell J. Clanton and Associates know how difficult these cases can be, and they will vigorously advocate for you and your loved one every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule a free and confidential consultation at 707.825.6587.