Under California law, anyone charged with a crime under the age of 18 is prosecuted in Juvenile Court. For more serious charges like violent felonies and murder, the state can prosecute the minor as an adult.
Representation of minors charged with criminal offenses in Juvenile Court requires a background and experience very different from adult court as the juvenile court follows a different process and procedure. There is no jury in Juvenile Court. All proceedings are closed to the public and presided over by a judge.
The goal of the Juvenile Justice System is primarily rehabilitation. However, the tools used by the courts to accomplish this goal can be quite punitive in nature. The minor can be detained in Juvenile Hall pending disposition of the charges, even if the minor is a first time offender. Conditions of probation can also include a commitment to the Breaking Cycles Program, Juvenile Ranch Camp, Campo, or the California Youth Authority.
In appropriate cases, the minor may be eligible for certain programs that will ultimately result in dismissal of the charges without imposition of formal probation or a commitment to a juvenile correctional facility. A minor’s arrest is often an opportunity to take positive steps to address issues or problems the minor may be dealing with. A proactive approach will help alleviate the court’s concerns and reduce the possibility of the more severe sanctions. The use of forensic experts can often be a key to a successful outcome in the juvenile system.
Because of the difference in procedures, most criminal attorneys rarely practice in Juvenile Court and focus their practice on adult cases. So they often lack the experience and knowledge to successfully navigate the juvenile court system.
The Law Offices of C. Bradley Patton have been successfully involved in the defense of juveniles for over 25 years. Our office specializes in juvenile cases and possesses the knowledge, skill, and experience that your child needs in an effective San Diego juvenile attorney.
Call us now at (760) 438-3636 for a free consultation.