Juvenile Offenses Lawyer in Stockton, CA

Minors charged with juvenile offenses need specially qualified legal representation. In juvenile court, the emphasis is theoretically on rehabilitation rather than punishment. However, going through the juvenile court system, having a juvenile record, or serving time in a California Youth Authority facility can be a very damaging experience for a young person.

The juvenile court is considered a civil rather than a criminal forum even though it adjudicates violations of criminal laws by minors.  There is no finding of “guilt” in juvenile court, and no “conviction” within the meaning of the adult criminal laws.  Minors are “committed” to a ranch or the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) rather than being sentenced to jail or prison.  Minors adjudicated delinquent in juvenile court proceedings have the opportunity to petition the court to have their records sealed unless they were found to have committed certain serious offenses.  However, under the Three Strikes law, certain serious and violent offenses committed by minors and adjudicated in juvenile court may be charged as strikes in a later criminal prosecution.

A minor who is the subject of delinquency proceedings in juvenile court does not have the benefit of the following rights, which are available to adults accused of a criminal offense:

●          Bail or O.R. (own recognizance) release;

●          A jury trial;

●          Diversion, available to adults only according to the wording of the statutues;

●          A preliminary hearing; and

●          A probable cause determination made within 48 hours.

Attorneys must be thoroughly knowledgeable and up-to-date on the Three Strikes potential for future enhancement in adult court.  It is imperative for a minor’s counsel to carefully advise his or her client and legal guardians of possible strike consequences.  A juvenile court adjudication for an offense committed by a minor age 16 or older can count as a strike if:

●          The offense is listed in Welfare and Institutions Code section 707(b); or

●          The offense is listed in Penal Code section 667.5(c) (as a violent felony) or in Penal Code section 1192.7(c) (as a serious felony) and in the same juvenile court proceeding, the defendant was found to be a ward of the court because of the commission of an offense listed is  Welfare and Institutions Code section 707(b).

A juvenile does not have a right to a jury trial in juvenile court even though the juvenile adjudication may subject the minor to increased punishment in future convictions.  For a juvenile adjudication to be treated as a strike, there need not have been an express finding that the minor was fit to be dealt with under the juvenile court law.

If your son or daughter has been charged with a juvenile offense, you need an attorney like Lance Jacot who has extensive experience with the unique demands of Juvenile Court and will tirelessly work to protect your child’s best interest and ensure your peace of mind.