LOS ANGELES JUVENILE LAWS AND COURT PROCEDUREJuveniles arrested in Los Angeles County are subject to punishment under all California laws as any adult, along with minor-specific laws such as truancy, under-age drinking, and curfew violations. Particularly in California courts, juvenile crimes are vigorously prosecuted by law enforcement and the district attorney’s office. In Los Angeles County, the District Attorney’s Office will typically file felony charges in juvenile court even when the minor has absolutely no prior record. The Welfare and Institutions Code provides the relevant law for juvenile court proceedings.
When a minor is arrested, there are many factors that must immediately be managed, including the fact that the arrest may have taken place in the middle of the night, or the wee hours of the morning, or on a holiday or weekend. The juvenile court does not provide for bail and thus an immediate pre-filing intervention with the probation department is required.
A police officer may arrest a minor without a warrant for either a misdemeanor or felony charge so long as the officer has probable cause to believe that the minor committed the offense in question. Once arrested the minor may be either cited and released or detained at a juvenile detention facility. If your child is taken into custody, he or she must be released unless the District Attorney files the petition within 48 hours of the time the minor is detained excluding non-court days. A detention hearing is held at the first court proceeding, the Arraignment, to determine the minor’s custody status.
When a juvenile petition is filed, the first date in court is called an arraignment. At the arraignment the juvenile will enter a plea either admitting or denying the petition. Usually the minor will enter a denial of the petition’s criminal allegation and a future court date for appearance is set.
Court Procedure: Juvenile Petitions and Fitness Motions
Criminal delinquency proceedings, also referred to as juvenile delinquency proceedings, are instituted under Welfare and Institutions Code 602 by the state. A juvenile that is as young as 14-16 years old, being charged with a felony offense, may also be charged as an adult. In recent years, California juvenile law, under Welfare and Institutions Code Section 707(b), has expanded the definition of which youthful offenders may be prosecuted in adult court and thus face the possibility of being sentenced to adult prisons for very long periods of time.
Our juvenile law firm’s focus is to preclude the state from directly filing on minors in adult court and to defeat any fitness motion the District Attorney’s office may file in Los Angeles juvenile courts. Unlike some lawyers who only practice in adult court, our defense lawyers have extensive knowledge of the Los Angeles Juvenile Court System and the Welfare and Institutions Code, having been juvenile delinquency prosecutors in Los Angeles.
Our Los Angeles juvenile defense attorneys have litigated approximately 1000 cases in juvenile court and, and have regularly obtained informal dispositions for clients pursuant to Welfare and Institution Codes 654, 725, and 790. In this way, our lawyers have achieved no record of conviction for the juvenile, causing the juvenile petition to be dismissed for charges including Violent Crime, Sex Crime, Domestic Violence, Theft-Fraud, Burglary, Crimes at School, DUI and DMV Licensing, Vandalism, Weapons Charges, Bench Warrants, Drug Offenses, and other serious criminal offenses.
Adjudication Hearing: The Trial
The Adjudication hearing is the equivalent of a jury trial in adult criminal court. However, unlike adult criminal court, your child is not entitled to a jury trial. It is very important that you have the help of a knowledgeable and experienced Los Angeles Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney that is familiar with local juvenile court judges and court proceedings.
The juvenile court trials are heard by a judge acting as the trier of fact. A judge needs very compelling evidence from the defense to dismiss the state’s case. Our firm begins each juvenile defense case with a thorough investigation, and then closely working with the client to find the most effective strategy for court. The best defense and court preparation begin even before the arraignment. An aggressive strategy at the adjudication may lead to charges being dropped or reduced, so that an informal disposition is reached without a sustained juvenile petition.
The firm specializes in defending juvenile cases throughout the Los Angeles County Juvenile Court System including Sylmar Court, Pasadena Court, Inglewood Juvenile, Antelope Valley, Eastlake Juvenile, Long Beach, and Los Padrinos Court.
Contact our Los Angeles Juvenile Criminal Defense lawyers immediately, at 877-781-1570. We promise an immediate response to your inquiry 24/7. For clients’ convenience, we have numerous offices in Los Angeles County.