One of the worst calls a parent can get is a call from the local police that their son or daughter has been arrested. Parents respond generally with fear, anger and disbelief. However, the best thing a parent can do at that time is call an experienced criminal lawyer.
Once a juvenile has been arrested, he is generally interviewed by the police. Most minors, unaware of their rights, speak to the police and confessions are usually extracted prior to the police notifying parents of the arrest. The best advice a juvenile could be given if he hasn’t yet been interviewed is to remain silent and wait for a lawyer.
Once the police are finished with their processing of the juvenile, they have several options. They can counsel and release the juvenile without any formal prosecution. They can release the minor to a parent and give the minor a citation to appear in court in the future, or they can call the probation department and turn the juvenile over to the county probation department for detention at the juvenile hall.
Within 48 hours of the arrest, the juvenile who is detained must be brought before a juvenile court judge for a detention hearing if the case is a misdemeanor or within 72 hours if the case is a felony. If a minor is accused of committing certain violent felonies, he can be charged by the prosecution as an adult and sent directly to the adult court.
Juveniles have no right to bail in the juvenile court. However, at their first appearance in the juvenile court, the court must hold a detention hearing. At this hearing, the judge will review a detention report that was prepared by the probation department and decide whether to release the minor. The minor’s parents have a right to attend this detention hearing and all other hearings on the case. If for some reason the parents aren’t properly notified and don’t attend the detention hearing, they can apply for another hearing in writing and receive that hearing within 24 hours.
The judge will not release the minor if the judge believes that detention is necessary for the safety of the minor or for the safety of other persons or property. If the minor is detained, he is entitled to a court trial on the accusation (called a "Petition") within 15 court days of his first appearance in Court. If the prosecution is unable to present evidence to support the petition within that time, the petition must be dismissed.
A minor who was released prior to his first appearance in the juvenile law court is also entitled to a trial before the judge but not within 15 court days. However, no juvenile who is charged as a juvenile is entitled to a jury trial. Only the judge determines whether the minor committed the crime charged.
If the prosecution can prove that the minor committed the crime at the juvenile trial, the petition is "sustained." However, most cases end without a hearing. Most of the time the prosecution and the attorney for the juvenile agree upon a disposition during pre-trial negotiations.
A juvenile can end up with one of seven possible results on a juvenile law case. The most lenient result is informal probation with conditions. This informal or "654 probation" allows the minor to remain at home with certain conditions. If he does well for six months, the case is terminated. If the minor doesn’t do well the proceedings can be resumed from the beginning.
A second alternative disposition that can occur is that the minor can enter a deferred entry of judgment or DEJ. Unlike 654 probation, DEJ requires that the minor admit the allegations in the petition. Again if the minor does well the matter is dismissed generally within 6 months to a year. If the minor doesn’t fulfill the obligations, the admission stands and the minor is usually placed on formal probation.
A third alternative disposition is home on probation. This allows the minor to return to the home of his parent(s) or guardian under the wardship and supervision of the probation department and court. The minor is monitored by the probation department to see that he attends school, does well at home, and attends any community service and counseling as is directed by the court.
A fourth alternative disposition is a foster home or group home. This alternative is usually only used when the minor doesn’t have a stable home to return to or when there has been a complete break down in the parent-child relationship.
A fifth alternative disposition is placement in a probation department youth camp. These camps are in essence "boot camps." These camps are locked facilities where the minors are required to attend school in a very regimented and controlled environment. A minor can be sent to either short term camp or long term camp.
The final alternative disposition, that the juvenile court usually uses only as a last resort or in the case of particularly aggravated or repeated offenses, is the California Youth Authority or CYA. CYA is run by the California Department of Corrections. CYA is prison for youthful offenders. Minors sent to CYA are held based on a matrix that takes into account the nature of the crime and other factors. A typical term lasts anywhere from 14 to 26 months.
A juvenile law court can keep jurisdiction over a minor until their mid-twenties. However, these lengthy wardships are highly unusual and only occur when a minor is sent to CYA and even then only when he or she has repeated violations of CYA parole.
Generally a juvenile law case ends when the minor completes probation or when he reaches the age of eighteen. A juvenile law offender can petition to seal his entire juvenile record once he reaches the age of eighteen or he gets off probation, whichever comes last. A sealed juvenile record is virtually inaccessible.
For a further explanation regarding juvenile law questions or for experienced representation of your son or daughter call Long Beach Criminal Law Specialist Matthew G. Kaestner directly at (562) 688-3445.
Matt Kaestner Attorney. This website is designed for informational use only and the information presented on this website should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of an attorney/client relationship.
For more information about the Law Office of Matthew Kaestner visit his site at www.lbcrimlaw.com.