Los Angeles Juvenile Offender Defense Lawyers
In the state of California, anyone over the age of 14 years old can be charged as a defendant in a criminal case. Most children under the age of 18 who are charged with an offense will pass through the Juvenile Justice System. But in some cases, a juvenile can be charged as an adult and go through the same trial process, facing the possibility of the same penalties.
Juveniles charged with violent crimes need a strong defense to protect them. If your child has been accused of a crime, do not hesitate to contact an experienced Los Angeles defense attorney. Call Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP today at (213) 688-0460.
When a minor is arrested by a police officer, that officer has the discretion to release the minor to his parents or take him to a juvenile detention center. Due to overcrowding, typically, only young people charged with violent offenses are actually detained in juvenile hall. Although some of the terms and steps of the process are different in the juvenile justice system, much of the procedure is similar to the adult system.
Criminal charges against young people are taken seriously in the state of California, in no small part due to issues with gang activities and violence. Something that would have been seen as a fight between two teenagers in the past, settled between them and their parents, can now become a serious legal matter. In this climate, we cannot afford to say "boys will be boys" or act as though an accusation against a minor isn’t serious. In reality, young people need a strong a defense to keep the charges from destroying the rest of their lives.
Perhaps the most serious issue facing juveniles charged with a violent offense is the potential to be tried as an adult. California’s juvenile justice system is designed more to help young people be rehabilitated. The adult criminal justice system has less focus on rehabilitation and more emphasis on retribution.
The prosecutor can file a petition for a fitness hearing in the juvenile system, which determines if a juvenile is fit for rehabilitation – if found unfit, he or she can be tried as an adult.
There are no jury trials for minors charged with a crime in California. If prosecutors request a fitness hearing for your child, a judge will decide whether they will remain in the juvenile court system or be tried as an adult.
For certain offenses such as murder, rape, sexual assault with violence, sexual assault in concert with another person, and kidnapping, a minor can be tried as an adult without a having a fitness trial. Additional crimes for which a juvenile over the age of 14 may be tried as an adult include:
- Forcible sodomy or sexual penetration
- Lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14
- Arson causing great bodily harm
- Assault with a firearm
- Attempted murder
- A violent felony with a street gang enhancement
- Discharging a firearm into an occupied building
- Escape from any type of juvenile detention using force
- Manufacturing a controlled substance
- Bribing or dissuading a witness
- An offense against someone who is disabled or over age 60
- Voluntary manslaughter
Any child charged as an adult faces adult sentencing. A defendant can be convicted of a crime as a teenager, charged as an adult, and serve a life sentence in prison. The only exception is the death penalty, which cannot be used against a juvenile in any situation.
With the consent of the minor and the minor’s guardians, a probation officer may take steps to declare the minor a ward of the court under section 601 of the California penal code. This process is known as informal probation. Under informal probation, your child can be declared a ward of the court.
A minor under informal probation might be allowed to live at home while they serve their probation or they could be assigned to foster care, a group home, juvenile hall, or a Los Angeles County probation camp. A judge will set the terms of informal probation, which may include:
- Mandatory school attendance
- Substance abuse counseling
- Restrictions on who they associate with
- Restitution for victims
- Community service
Having a criminal record can hurt a person’s future employment prospects and reputation. If you or your child were convicted of a juvenile crime and successfully served your sentence, you may wish to file a petition to eliminate the record of the conviction and sentence. The decision to grant a petition to seal a juvenile record is generally based on the type of crime committed and how long it has been since the defendant was sentenced.
If your child has been charged with a violent crime, you need the best criminal defense attorney you can find. Our nationally recognized legal defense team at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP will stand by you and your family every step of the way. Call (213) 688-0460 to protect your child’s future today.
Recent Case Results
- Complete Dismissal of Molestation Charges
Attorney Mark Werksman’s 29 year old client was falsely accused of molesting two neighborhood children and was subsequently charged with felony child molestation, with a significant prison sentence hanging over his head should he be convicted. Instead, at the preliminary hearing Werksman was able to convince the court to grant his client a complete dismissal of any charges.
- Decision Set Aside
Client, a college student in a faulty Title IX case, was awarded $130,000 in attorney fees.
- Probation with No Jail Time for Drug Money Laundering Charge
Wilmington man accused in New York federal court of laundering drug money through the sale of laptop computers. Mark was able to get the case transferred to federal court in Los Angeles, where he convinced the United States Attorney to reduce the charges. His client was sentenced to probation with no jail time on a misdemeanor conviction.