JUVENILE CRIMES DEFENSE ATTORNEY ORANGE COUNTY CA
When a minor violates an Orange County criminal statute, the consequences associated with the crime are typically very different from those associated with a criminal conviction in adult court. However, some Orange County juvenile cases can be transferred to criminal court, where a minor can be tried and punished as an adult. Any time a minor is arrested for a crime in Orange County, the best possible outcome is for the case to be heard in juvenile court, where the focus is on rehabilitation, rather than punishment, and where there are options other than incarceration. For more information about the juvenile court system, or to discuss your child’s case with a knowledgeable juvenile crimes defense attorney, contact our Orange County defense attorneys at Seyb Law Group today.
Affordable Orange County Juvenile Crimes Defense Attorney
If your son or daughter is facing juvenile charges in Orange County, your first course of action should be to hire a lawyer with extensive experience defending cases in juvenile court. Because the juvenile court system in Orange County is completely different from criminal court, it is imperative that you have an attorney on your side who has experience with juvenile cases, or your child could suffer the consequences. The outcome of a juvenile crimes case can have far-reaching and long-lasting implications, both personal and professional, that would likely seem insignificant to a minor. But at Seyb Law Group, we understand that the consequences of a juvenile court adjudication can be serious, or if the case is transferred to adult court, that a criminal conviction can follow a person for the rest of his or her life, possibly affecting your child’s schooling, employment prospects and professional licensing.
A juvenile crime is unlawful behavior carried out by a minor under the age of 18 and juvenile court is a specialized court dedicated to adjudicating misdemeanor and felony crimes allegedly committed by minors. Most minors under 18 are tried in the juvenile court system, but there are some cases in which younger minors can end up being tried as adults in the criminal court system, which can result in significantly harsher penalties. For instance, juveniles 16 and older accused of committing serious or violent crimes, like murder, attempted murder, robbery, kidnapping for ransom, and rape with force, violence or threat of bodily harm, may be subject to a “transfer hearing,” in which case the judge will decide whether the minor should be transferred to criminal court to be tried as an adult. This decision is based on the nature and severity of the crime the minor is accused of committing, the minor’s previous delinquent history, if any, and the success of any previous attempts to rehabilitate the minor, among other factors. Juveniles under the age of 16, however, are not tried in adult court.
For the most part, juvenile crimes fall into one of three categories: violent crimes, drug crimes and property crimes. Our Orange County juvenile crimes defense attorneys represent young people charged with the following crimes, and more:
- Underage drinking
- Weapons on school grounds
- Drug possession
- Aggravated assault and battery
Orange County Juvenile Delinquency Section 602 Proceedings
Like adults, juveniles can be accused of committing an infraction, a misdemeanor or a felony offense. However, while it deals with crimes committed by minors, the Orange County juvenile court system is not actually part of the criminal court system; it is part of the civil law system where cases are “adjudicated,” or formally decided on by an arbiter or judge. These proceedings are sometimes called “Section 602 proceedings,” named after California Welfare and Institutions Code § 602 PC, which covers juvenile delinquency proceedings and states the following:
“Except as provided in Section 707, any minor who is between 12 years of age and 17 years of age, inclusive, 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 a curfew based solely on age, is within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, which may adjudge the minor to be a ward of the court.”
Under Senate Bill 439, which was signed into law in September 2018, the juvenile court system can also assume jurisdiction over a minor under the age of 12, but only if the minor is charged with the following crimes:
- Sodomy by force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of bodily injury
- Rape by force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of bodily injury
- Oral copulation by force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of bodily injury
- Sexual penetration by force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of bodily injury
Other than for these offenses, children under the age of 12 are not tried in Orange County juvenile court.
How are Juvenile Court and Adult Criminal Court Different?
The juvenile court system operates on the belief that juveniles are different from adults and generally speaking, that a juvenile accused of committing a crime should be treated differently from an adult accused of committing a crime. As such, there are quite a few differences between juvenile court and adult criminal court. For one, while juvenile court and adult court both have judges who hear cases, and prosecutors and defense attorneys who present evidence to be considered and ruled upon, there is no jury in juvenile court. The judge presiding over the dispute is responsible for determining whether the minor committed the crime, and if so, imposing an appropriate consequence.
Another difference between the two is the fact that the judge in juvenile court does not decide whether the minor is “guilty” or “not guilty.” Instead, if the judge finds that the minor committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, he or she “sustains the petition” filed by the District Attorney. And instead of “sentencing” the minor, the judge imposes certain “dispositions,” like Welfare and Institutions Code § 654 diversion, Welfare and Institutions Code § 725 informal probation, formal probation at home or at “camp,” or commitment to the California Division of Juvenile Justice, which “provides education and treatment to California’s youthful offenders up to the age of 25 who have the most serious criminal backgrounds and most intense treatment needs.”
Juvenile Crimes Penalties in Orange County
The main difference between juvenile court and adult criminal court is that the purpose of the juvenile court system is to “rehabilitate” youthful offenders and help them move past their crimes, while the criminal court system is focused mainly on punishing offenders for their crimes. However, that does not mean that minors who break the law get away with it without being punished. A judge in juvenile court can sanction the minor for his or her unlawful behavior, but again, these sanctions are geared more towards discipline than retaliation. Sanctions in juvenile court can include:
- Community service
- Fines and/or restitution to the victim(s)
- Placement in a foster home
- Participation in a victim impact class
- Commitment to a juvenile detention facility
- Commitment to the Division of Juvenile Justice
The state of California takes a strong stance on adult and juvenile crime and in an effort to appear “tough on crime,” many minors accused of committing serious or violent offenses are sent to criminal court to be tried as adults. Unfortunately, even juveniles who are adjudicated in juvenile court and sent home on probation have to face the social stigma and lasting consequences associated with having a juvenile criminal record.
California’s “Three Strikes” Sentencing Law and Sex Offender Registration
In addition to the immediate consequences associated with juvenile crimes, the outcome of your child’s juvenile crimes case can also have a significant impact on his or her future. Adult courts in Orange County have the right to consider juvenile adjudications when making probation and sentencing recommendations, for example. Additionally, juvenile adjudications, or sustained petitions, can count as “strike” offenses for the purposes of California’s “Three Strikes” sentencing law, which imposes harsher prison sentences on defendants convicted of multiple serious or violent felonies. They can also lead to required sex offender registration for certain sex-related offenses, under the California Sex Offender Registration Act.
Orange County Juvenile Crimes Defense
Minors in the Orange County juvenile court system are supposed to get the education and treatment they need to get past their crimes and become productive members of their communities, without falling into the destructive cycle of adult criminality. However, as noble as its intentions are, the juvenile justice system has its downfalls and far too many minors are labeled “juvenile delinquents” because of the way their case played out in juvenile court. Our Orange County juvenile crimes defense lawyers may be able to get your child’s case diverted to probation before a petition filing even takes place, which means your child could either avoid a filing altogether or get the charges dismissed after completing probation.
Because the main objective of the juvenile court system is to rehabilitate the minor to prevent juvenile delinquency from progressing to adult crimes, most juvenile crimes are adjudicated as a civil delinquency proceeding rather than a criminal trial. However, sometimes a delinquency proceeding is transferred to adult criminal court and other times, the prosecution attempts to bypass the juvenile court system altogether by filing charges directly in criminal court, especially for serious or violent crimes. Fortunately, there are a number of legal defenses an experienced juvenile crimes defense attorney can use to keep your child out of the criminal court system and avoid the lasting consequences of an Orange County criminal conviction.
How Hiring a Juvenile Crimes Defense Attorney Can Help
Most juvenile crimes are tried in juvenile court, but in some cases, a juvenile may be charged in Orange County criminal court, where the consequences of a conviction are typically far more severe. At Seyb Law Group, our attorneys are committed to keeping juveniles within the juvenile court system, where there are options for penalties besides jail time or a prison sentence and where minors have access to the education, treatment and rehabilitation they need to get past their crimes. If your child is a minor and is accused of committing a crime in Orange County or the surrounding counties, our defense attorneys will investigate every aspect of your child’s case and do everything in our power to build a strong defense against the juvenile crime charges.
The Orange County criminal justice system can be very unforgiving once a youth enters it and it is extremely difficult for minors to escape the cycle of recidivism once they serve time in jail. If the judge in your child’s Orange County juvenile case sustains the petition filed by the District Attorney, we may be able to work with the court and recommend community service, enrollment in intervention programs or other rehabilitation options that are designed to give young people a second chance, rather than sending them to jail and destroying their future with a criminal conviction. Our defense lawyers at Seyb Law Group have a clear understanding of the juvenile justice system and, no matter what charges your child is facing, we can help you get the best possible outcome in his or her juvenile crimes case.
Contact Our Experienced Juvenile Crimes Defense Attorneys
The juvenile justice system can be complicated and confusing, especially for families with no experience navigating the complexities of the Orange County court system. With our juvenile crime lawyers at Seyb Law Group on your side, we can guide you through each step of the juvenile court process from the moment your child is arrested to the conclusion of his or her case, including, if it comes to it, in court and at trial. Our juvenile crimes defense lawyers at Seyb Law Group represent all types of juvenile charges, from shoplifting and vandalism to assault and murder. We understand that when it comes to juvenile crimes, the stakes are higher than ever, and we are committed to aggressively defending your child against the lasting consequences of a criminal conviction. Contact our experienced juvenile crimes defense lawyers at Seyb Law Group today to discuss your child’s legal options. We may be able to keep your child out of custody and help get his or her life back on track.