Los Angeles Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyer
Criminal Defense Attorneys Defending Minors Charged With Any Type of Juvenile Crime
It is bad enough for an adult to end up in jail, but it is even more stressful when your child ends up in the juvenile court system. Eisner Gorin LLP, top-rated Los Angeles juvenile criminal defense attorneys, specialize in the defending minors who have been accused of any type of criminal offense throughout the Los Angeles County Juvenile Court System, including Sylmar Juvenile Court, Pasadena Court, Inglewood Juvenile, Antelope Valley, Eastlake Juvenile, and Los Padrinos Juvenile Courthouse. We work aggressively and believe in an an immediate Pre-Filing intervention to convince the prosecutor from filing formal charges in juvenile court. If misdemeanor or felony charges have already been filed against your child, we also work aggressively at their arraignment to secure their release at the Juvenile Detention Hearing.
Our experienced Los Angeles juvenile criminal defense lawyers have successfully defended minors facing any type of offense, including drug crimes, sex crimes, theft crimes, violent crimes, crimes at school, weapons charges, domestic violence, bench warrants, DUI and DMV licensing, vandalism, gang crimes, robbery, truancy, among others.See our related blog: Juveniles and Vandalism Charges in Los Angeles.
What Type of Court Oversees Crimes Committed by Minors in Los Angeles?
Juvenile delinquency court is a court dedicated to adjudicating felony and misdemeanor crimes allegedly committed by minors. Juvenile court also handles status offenses like truancy and curfew violations. Status offenses only constitute criminal acts when committed by juveniles. Have questions about juvenile courts in Los Angeles County? Call an experienced juvenile criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles at our office for more information.
What is a 602 Proceeding?
The term 602 proceeding comes from Welfare and Institutions Code, Section 602, which states: any person who is under the age of 18 years when he or she violates any law of this state or of the United States or any ordinance of any city or county of this state defining crime other than an ordinance establishing curfew based sole on age, is within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, which may adjudge such person to be a ward of the court.
Technically, juvenile court is not part of the California criminal law system, but is a part of the civil law system where cases are adjudicated. Nevertheless, this fact does not make the 602 Proceeding less scary. There are no juries and it is the judge who gets to hear your child’s case and gets to decide his/her fate in juvenile court.
The judge does not find a minor guilty or innocent in the California juvenile court system. Instead, if the judge finds that the minor committed the crime alleged beyond a reasonable doubt, the judge would also sustain the petition filed by the district attorney. Need more information about juvenile proceedings in the Los Angeles County juvenile justice system? Contact a Los Angeles juvenile criminal defense lawyer at our law firm for a free case evaluation.
What Does it Mean when the Minor Becomes Ward of Court in Los Angeles?
When the judge makes a minor a ward of the court, it means that the court is taking over primary responsibility for control and treatment of the minor. There are a number of different dispositions (sentences) available in juvenile court. The goal of a defense attorney is to show the judge that the minor did not commit the crime alleged beyond a reasonable doubt or get the minor informal probation under California Welfare and Institutions Code, Section 654. If you need more information about the juvenile criminal justice system in LA County, an experienced Los Angeles juvenile crime defense lawyer at our office can help you.
Probation v. Detainment of the Minor in Division of Juvenile Justice aka “CYA.”
Under California Welfare and Institutions Code, Section 654, the case may be diverted to informal probation before a petition filing takes place. In other cases, however, the judge may make the decision to place the minor on informal probation. Welfare and Institutions Code, Section 725. The difference between the two California Welfare and Institutions Codes is that under Section 725, a petition is actually filed, but but the petition is put on hold, so the minor gets a second chance. Your child's criminal lawyer should be able to provide more information.
If the minor gets informal probation, he never admits any allegations of wrongdoing and the charges are dismissed upon successful completion of the program. A minor can be a ward of the court but still allowed to serve out probation at home. In other cases, the minor might be placed in foster care, in a group home or in a county probation camp.
Informal Probation terms can include anything reasonably necessary for the rehabilitation of the minor, including:
- Mandatory school attendance
- Curfew restrictions
- Substance abuse counseling
- Not hanging out with certain people
- Community service
- Graffiti removal, and/or
If you need assistance understanding the terms of juvenile information probation in Los Angeles County, a skilled juvenile criminal defense attorney at our law firm can help you.
Minors, who are repeat offenders or in need of a greater level of structure can be sent to probation camp for a period of between three months and one year. There are approximately 70 probation camps across the state. Most camps are dormitory-based environments with a structured daily schedule involving education and treatment programs. A handful of other kinds of probation camps also exist in California, which are similar to military-style boot camps.
Prison for Minors
The harshest punishment for the minors, who are found by the judge to have committed the requisite crime, is California Youth Authority (CYA), which is essentially a California prison for minors. CYA is now called the Division of Juvenile Justice and housed within the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. However, CYA term is still widely used.
Problems with the Juvenile Justice System in Los Angeles
Regardless of its noble objectives, the juvenile court justice system in California has received a wide criticism for its failures. In a highly-publicized, the state was sued for unacceptable conditions at the California Youth Authority and was accused of engaging in inhumane treatment of locked-up-minors, including but not limited to, instigating racial conflicts, making children go to class in cages, lack of proper medical care, etc.
Minors under 18 Generally Go to Juvenile Court
Under California Welfare & Institutions Code, Section, 602 minors, who are arrested for a crime, and are under the age of 18 at the time of the offense, generally go to juvenile court. Therefore, technically, if someone who commits a crime at age 17, but the crime is not discovered or the minor is not tried until he/she turns 20, the minor can still be tried in juvenile court.
Termination of Jurisdiction
Juvenile court jurisdiction terminates when the ward reaches the age of 21. In cases where the minor committed a 707(b) offense and was committed to CYA, jurisdiction can last until the minor is 25 years old.
For Certain Crimes, Minors 14 and up MUST be Tried as Adults
Minors accused of very serious crimes automatically get tried in adult court. These crimes are:
- Murder with special circumstances, if the prosecutor alleges that the minor personally killed the victim
- Rape with force, violence or threat of great bodily harm
- Spousal rape with force, violence or threat of great bodily harm
- Forcible sex in concert with another
- Lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14 with force, violence or threat of great bodily injury
- Forcible sexual penetration
- Sodomy or oral copulation by force, violence or threat of great bodily injury.
Under Certain Circumstances, Minors 14 and up CAN be Tried as Adults
Under certain circumstances described below, minors alleged to have committed one of the 30 crimes listed in California Welfare & Institutions Code, Section 707(b) also can be tried in adult court. The offenses are:
- Arson causing great bodily injury or of an inhabited structure
- Rape with force, violence or threat of great bodily harm
- Sodomy by force, violence or threat of great bodily harm
- A lewd or lascivious act on a child under 14 with force, violence or threat of great bodily harm
- Oral copulation by force, violence or threat of great bodily harm
- Forcible sexual penetration
- Kidnapping for ransom
- Kidnapping for purposes of robbery
- Kidnapping with bodily harm
- Attempted murder
- Assault with a firearm or destructive device
- Assault by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury
- Discharge of a firearm into an inhabited or occupied building
- An offense against a person who is over 60 or disabled
- An offense of personal use of a firearm
- A felony offense in which the minor personally used a weapon
- A felony offense described of dissuading a witness or bribery of a witness
- Manufacturing, compounding, or selling one-half ounce or more of a salt or solution of a controlled substance
- A violent felony, which also would constitute a felony violation of criminal street gang sentencing enhancement
- Escape, by the use of force or violence, from a county juvenile hall, home, ranch, camp, or forestry camp if great bodily injury is intentionally inflicted upon an employee of the juvenile facility
- Voluntary manslaughter
Need help understanding when a juvenile can be criminal charged as an adult in California? Call a Los Angeles juvenile criminal defense lawyer at our office. See our blog: California Proposition 57.
Direct Filings in Adult Court v. Fitness Hearings In Los Angeles Juvenile Courts
Prosecutors have discretion as to how to handle to 707(b) offenses. They can either file directly in adult court or, if they want, they can initiate a fitness hearing and have a judge decide the issue.
Direct Filing - 16 years of age or older
The prosecutor can direct file against a minor who is 16 or older if the minor:
- Is alleged to have committed a 707(b) offense, OR
- Has previously committed a felony when older than 14, AND is accused of committing
- A felony where the victim was 65 or older or disabled, or
- A felony constituting a hate crime, or
- A felony that is gang-related
Direct Filing - 14 years of age or older
The prosecutor can direct file against a minor who is 14 or older if the minor:
- Is alleged to have committed an offense that if committed by an adult would be punishable by death or life imprisonment, OR
- Is alleged to have personally used a firearm during the commission or attempted commission of a felony, OR
- The minor has a previously committed a 707(b) offense, or
- The crime was gang-related, or
- The offense was a hate crime, or
- The victim was 65 or older or disabled
Juvenile Fitness Hearings in Los Angeles
In other instances, a prosecutor will request a fitness hearing, where a judge will decide whether a minor is fit for the juvenile court system or, instead, should be tried as an adult, since they allegedly has committed a 707(b) offense. The judge will look at five factors, including the seriousness of the alleged crime, to determine whether the minor is likely to benefit from the rehabilitative services of juvenile delinquency court. If the judge decides that the minor won't benefit from those services, the minor gets transferred to adult court.
This is why it is overly important to consult an experienced Los Angeles juvenile criminal defense attorney right away, if your child, unfortunately, gets into trouble with the law and/or gets arrested. Don’t let your child’s mistakes ruin their life.
Call a Los Angeles Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyer
Regardless of the alleged crime, your child needs an experienced Los Angeles juvenile criminal defense attorney to defend them. At Eisner Gorin LLP, we are available 24/7 to thoroughly review all the specific details of their case and discuss their legal options. During your consultation, we will clearly explain how we can help your child. Our juvenile defense lawyers will attempt to aggresively negotiate with prosecutors in the juvenile court system in order to help your child receive rehabilitation rather than harsh legal penalties for their criminal offenses. Call our law office at 877-781-1570.
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