A Parent’s Worst Nightmare
Your child has been detained by the police for committing a California criminal offense. You may experience emotions ranging from fear for your child’s safety to feelings of guilt for having not been a “good parent.” Apart from the emotional upheaval, you have a multitude of questions regarding the juvenile justice system, and you’re not sure whether or not you should contact a California juvenile criminal defense attorney.
California Juvenile Justice
If you have no experience dealing with the California juvenile justice system, the most important thing you can do for yourself and for your child is to immediately seek the assistance of an experienced juvenile defense attorney to represent your child. Ken Rosenfeld of the Rosenfeld Law Firm has accumulated extensive experience defending juveniles and will work with the California juvenile court system to achieve the best possible outcome for your child.
Juvenile Justice – Different for Minors
In California, the juvenile justice system differs from the adult justice system in a number of ways. The seriousness of the offense determines whether or not the police elect to place your child in custody and refer the case to juvenile court. The officer may address minor offenses by detaining your child, warning against further violations, and releasing him or her to your custody. In this case, a juvenile attorney may not be necessary.
If the offense is serious enough for referral to a juvenile court, a juvenile court intake officer will decide whether to:
- dismiss the juvenile offense;
- handle the juvenile offense informally; or
- file a formal petition detailing the allegations against your child.
Make sure that your child is represented by a Sacramento juvenile defense attorney who understands how to deal with the California juvenile justice system.
Informal Resolution of Juvenile Offenses
If the matter proceeds informally, the child appears before either a juvenile probation officer or a juvenile judge. A juvenile defense attorney should be present at your child’s appearance. The outcome of informal proceedings may include:
- a stern lecture;
- mandatory counseling;
- mandatory community service;
- payment of restitution to a property owner; and/or
Any of these informal outcomes are preferable to formal adjudication in juvenile court.
The goal of a skilled California juvenile defense attorney is to seek an informal resolution of the case. The Rosenfeld Law Firm has many years of experience in developing strategies to most effectively achieve this goal.
Formal Charges for Juvenile Offenses
Within the state, when a juvenile criminal offense is serious enough to warrant a formal petition, the child is formally charged before a juvenile court judge or a referee; consequently, it is imperative that your child be represented by a California juvenile defense attorney, such as Ken Rosenfeld.
- After a formal petition is filed, the juvenile court will decide whether to take jurisdiction of the case or schedule a “fitness hearing” in which the prosecutor argues that the facts and circumstances warrant trying your child as an adult. The court will make this decision based on the seriousness of the crime and your child’s personal characteristics.
- Ken Rosenfeld will argue strenuously that the case should be kept in juvenile court. If the case is kept in juvenile court, your child may enter into a plea agreement by pleading guilty in exchange for reduced charges.
- If no plea agreement is offered or reached, the case may be scheduled for “adjudication” (a juvenile trial).
If the matter proceeds to adjudication, the juvenile judge may “sustain the petition” (convict your child of the offense).
- After conviction, the juvenile judge will determine the “disposition” (the equivalent of sentencing in adult court). A disposition in juvenile court might include anything from:
- periodic monitoring by the court;
- placement in a juvenile group home; to
- placement in the juvenile division of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).
The Rosenfeld Law Firm of Sacramento
It is imperative that you retain a California juvenile defense attorney as early as possible to ensure proper representation for your child at all stages of the process. The California juvenile justice system is complex, and it is not easily navigated without the assistance of an experienced juvenile defense attorney.
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Along with legal advice, The Rosenfeld Law Firm in Sacramento, California, offers experience and representation in other pertinent areas of practice including prison law, mental health law, appellate law, and federal criminal defense.