Juvenile Crime Lawyer in Sacramento, CA

A Sacramento Criminal Defense Attorney May Be Able To Help

To be charged as a juvenile for a crime, the person must be under the age of 18. Basically, a child can be charged for committing any crime that an adult could also be charged with, such as shoplifting, theft, assault, etc. Then there are crimes that are particular only to juveniles, such as truancy and violating curfews. However, the rules and proceedings for juveniles as well as the courts themselves are different from those for adults. In juvenile cases, the courts lean more towards rehabilitation than they do in adult court. In extreme cases involving violent crimes, such as murder or rape, or crimes such as arson or kidnapping, a child can be tried as an adult, with no prior hearing with a juvenile judge.

Also, parents of a juvenile found guilty can be held responsible for financial liabilities that were incurred as a result of the crime committed. A Sacramento criminal defense lawyer should be consulted in such cases. Convictions can affect many areas, such as interruption of schooling, future employment opportunities, admittance to college, and eligibility for acceptance in the armed forces, not to mention the destroyed reputation of both the minor and his or her family. A minor will usually have a fitness hearing before a judge in juvenile court. At this proceeding, the judge is determining whether the child is fit for the juvenile court system.

Criminal Charges Filed Against Juveniles

The judge will review five different criteria in determining this: (1) how serious was the crime, (2) the criminal sophistication level of the child, (3) the child’s prior criminal history, (4) the result of any previous attempts to rehabilitate the child, and (5) the belief by the court on whether future rehabilitation will be successful or not. Input from probation officers, police and even prosecutors will be a part of the review.

If the judge determines that the child is fit for juvenile court, then the judge decides if the child should be the ward of the court or if home supervision would be best. There is no entitlement to a trial by jury. (The exception would be if the minor is determined to be tried as an adult.) If the minor is considered a ward of the court, it means the child is under the control of the juvenile court system, and not the child’s parents or guardians. As a ward of the court, the child could be placed in juvenile hall or camp, even foster care or a group home.

Juvenile Hall is a holding facility for the minor, and being there makes it easier for the minor to be available for further hearings or other decisions on placement. There is also secure confinement, which is a confined setting for a period of weeks to years in some cases. This is less harsh than prison, but much more strict than probation. If a minor is convicted and sentenced for a serious crime in an adult court, the minor might spend the first part of the sentence in a juvenile facility until he or she turns 18 years old, and then serve the rest of the sentence in the state prison.

A minor might be a candidate for informal probation. If the minor carries out the program designated by the probation officer, then once the probation period has expired, the charges may be dismissed. There are several probation programs, such as JOIN, or the Juvenile Offender Intervention Network; also, HOP, the Home on Probation Program; and the CDP, or Community Detention Program.

What to Do If Your Child Is Charged With a Crime

If your child, or a minor relative, is charged with a crime, contact a Sacramento juvenile crime attorney. Our firm, Tower Legal Group has extensive experience in dealing with the juvenile court system. You will want to ensure your child has the best possible defense, as the child’s future is at stake. We will vigorously investigate the facts and determine the best course of defense. It might include negotiating with officials as well as the District Attorney for less severe penalties, or for alternative sentencing, such as drug or alcohol treatment, counseling, and other programs.