Juvenile delinquency charges are a serious matter in the state of California. Conviction can lead to confinement in security facilities surrounded by barbed-wire fences. Tens of thousands already reside in these wards, while still many more live out their youth under strict probation terms. The state aims to punish juvenile offenders severely, and for this reason a juvenile delinquency or other criminal charge must be taken seriously. Besides confinement and probation, there is the potential impact on one’s educational or career prospects. A conviction can have a lasting impact on one’s ability to attend the school or pursue the career of one’s choice. The purpose of this article is to educate juveniles and their parents or guardians of the California’s juvenile delinquency laws. If you or your child have been charged with juvenile delinquency in the state of California, contact an experienced California criminal defense attorney.
Juvenile Delinquency Court Tries Minors Charged With Crimes In the State of California
In California, minors charged with crimes are not prosecuted in the same court system as adults. The underlying philosophy to having separate court systems is the long-held belief that minors charged or convicted of wrongdoing are less culpable than adults. Culpability is synonymous with blameworthiness. In the eyes of the law, because minors are still developing intellectually – still learning right from wrong – and gaining firsthand knowledge of what constitutes ethical conduct, they should be held to different culpability standards than adults.
Common Types of Misdemeanors and Felonies Prosecuted in Juvenile Delinquency Court
In the Juvenile Division of the Los Angeles Superior Court, both minor and serious offenses are adjudicated. On the less serious side, there are truancy and curfew charges. Truancy is synonymous with “skipping school.” A curfew violation involves being outside one’s home past a designated hour at night. Conviction for one of these lesser charges will not result in confinement in a high-security ward. These kind of violations – ones that only apply to minors and not to adults – are more often punished with probation, community service, and other low level sanctions. For more serious crimes – the kinds more associated with adult misconduct than the violations of minors – the punishments may be much more severe. In fact, for the most serious charges, a minor may be taken entirely out of the juvenile system and tried as an adult. For example, a minor of 14 years of age may be tried as an adult if charged with murder, arson, rape, and other sex offenses.
Have You Been Charged as a Minor in California?
If you or your minor child have been charged with a crime in the state of California, it is imperative that you contact an experienced California criminal defense attorney. There is the hassle of probation, the nightmare of confinement, and the stigma of an entry on one’s record that can have both short-term and long-term effects on one’s educational and vocational aspirations. A skilled attorney will mount the strongest defense possible to protect your future.