Juvenile Delinquency Attorney Referral Service

Crimes committed by youth peaked in California in the 1970s, and have been dropping ever since. In 2013, there were more than 54,000 juveniles arrested for misdemeanor offenses in California, in addition to almost 31,000 felony arrests, according to the Department of Justice’s Criminal Justice Statistics Center.

Each of these teens was someone’s son, daughter, grandchild or niece or nephew. When it’s your loved one who has been arrested, it is important to find the best juvenile delinquency criminal defense attorney available. Otherwise, the consequences of this arrest could follow them for years to come.

What is Juvenile Delinquency?

Just like crimes committed by adults, those committed by someone between the ages of 14 and 18 are classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Minor offenses, such as theft of a small item, are considered misdemeanors and face fewer penalties. Felony offenses that involve violence, sexual assault or gang activity incur more serious consequences, and may even result in the youth being tried as an adult in some cases. With this also come adult penalties.

While the way juvenile crimes are classified is very similar to that of adult infractions, the way the cases are handled and the sentences handed down may be very different. As adults, you must be convicted by a jury of your peers. As a juvenile offender, there is no jury trial. Instead, the hearings are in front of a commissioner or judge, and they rule on the case. In addition, no bail is available to juvenile offenders. In some cases, however, they may be released to their parents or other guardians.

Depending on the individual issue, crimes committed by those under the age of 14 may be handled differently. The child, or his parents, may still face consequences of his actions, though. Talking to a defense attorney familiar with this type of case is the best way to determine a proper defense.

What are the Consequences of a Juvenile Conviction?

The goal of any juvenile justice system is centered on properly rehabilitating those who break the law. California does this in a number of ways, utilizing several different programs to help those who commit illegal acts while underage become law-abiding adults. Juvenile offenders may be sentenced to a court-ordered treatment program, sent to a juvenile detention program or incarcerated in a youth facility. In many cases, however, informal probation, community supervision or formal probation is used.

Before sentencing, the judge or commissioner will consider the nature of the offense as well as the background of the juvenile. A youth who has never before been arrested and committed a minor crime will most likely receive a far less stringent sentence than one who has previously been through the juvenile justice system.

In contrast to adult sentences, which are typically administered entirely under law enforcement or the justice system, juvenile convictions may call for consequences that are administered through cooperation from a number of agencies. Law enforcement may work with the local school system and area social services to oversee the rehabilitation of youth offenders, in addition to involvement with other nonprofits in the community.

Does My Child Need a Criminal Defense Attorney?

Lawyers who specialize in juvenile delinquency cases not only understand the special processes used for young offenders; they can offer comfort and compassion to young people and their families. The best lawyer for your child will defend him vigorously if he is being charged for a crime he did not commit or should not be held responsible for. If your child is forthcoming about his guilt, the attorney can help ensure he receives a sentence that prevents repeat offenses without negatively impacting his current education or future employment activities. They can also guide your family through the process, and ensure your child’s arrest does not affect him as an adult.

How Can I Find a Lawyer?

For those living in the San Fernando Valley, the Attorney Referral Service of The San Fernando Valley Bar Association can help you find the best lawyer for your needs. Call us today at (818) 340-4529 to learn more about our services, and how we can connect you to an experienced juvenile delinquency defense attorney.