When a minor commits a California crime, they are charged and tried under the juvenile justice system. The trial for a juvenile case may work similarly to that of adult defendants, but minors are treated with more leniency. It can be devastating as a parent if your child commits a crime and is tried in the juvenile court. 

Even when your child is under juvenile custody, your rights as their parent are recognized. You have a right to be informed of all actions taken against your child. You will also be able to monitor your child’s progress and seek legal counsel for them. Facing a Juvenile conviction could be detrimental to the future of your child. Therefore, seeking legal guidance from the Los Angeles Criminal Attorney is crucial. We serve clients throughout Los Angeles, CA, to ensure the best outcome for your situation.

Overview of Juvenile Cases

Society does not solely hold minors accountable for their actions. Therefore, a person under the age of eighteen years who commits a crime in California is tried under the juvenile law. Juvenile cases are based on offenses committed by individuals between the age of twelve and seventeen. Typically, a minor is under their parent or guardian, and the juvenile cases greatly impact the minors’ parents and guardians.

Juvenile court cases are extremely confidential and are heard by the judge without a jury. The goal of trying minors in the juvenile court is to correct them and rehabilitate their behavior. A juvenile case begins when a child is arrested for allegedly committing a crime. Depending on the offense’s severity, the police could release them or deliver them to the probation department. This will lead to the opening of a petition in the juvenile court.

Several hearings occur between when your child is arrested and when they are found to have committed a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The law stipulates timelines and procedures through which the hearings are carried out. However, you have a right to seek legal guidance and representation for your child in all the stages. You may also be entitled to attend the hearings as long as you are the child’s caregiver.

Several sentencing options are available in juvenile court, including:

  • Informal probation. When the child’s offense is not serious, they could be eligible for a diversion and informal probation. However, they need to adhere to the probation terms, including school attendance and counseling for the minor and their parents.

  • Formal probation at home camp. For more serious offenses, the court may sentence the mi or to probation, which can be served at home or in a suitable placement. The terms of formal probation include avoiding certain people, restitution, counseling on substance abuse, and mandatory school attendance.

  • CYA. CYA is the most serious punishment handed out in juvenile court other than an adult prison. In most cases, this type of punishment is given to minors who have committed an offense requiring sex offender registration.

Sometimes, there are loopholes in the system, and your rights in the minor’s case may not be considered. This could cause more emotional trauma that you face when your child is dealing with the legal system. If your child is arrested and detained in juvenile hall, it would be wise to consult with an attorney to help you understand your rights and that of the minor child.

Parental Rights in Juvenile Delinquency Cases

If a minor has committed the alleged crime in California, they may be placed in juvenile detention where they serve a punishment depending on their charges. Even when your child is under juvenile custody, you are still apparent, and your parental rights and responsibilities are maintained.

The most important thing is that if you are the legal or physical custodian of the child, you have the right to make educational and medical decisions for your child. Your right as a parent may only be terminated under the following circumstances:

  • Your child is in legal guardianship. When a child commits a crime facilitated by the environment around them, the juvenile court could put your child in legal guardianship to protect them from criminal triggers. In such a case, your parental rights are limited.

  • Your child is freed for adoption. The juvenile court is complicated in the way they handle their cases. Sometimes, neglectful parents may be denied a right to be part of the juvenile proceedings or any child’s legal rights.

Even though you do not have the legal right to be present when your child faces police interrogation, the minor has a right to remain silent or request a parent’s presence. Whether or not the request will be accepted is based on individual factors of the crime they allegedly committed. Some of the parental rights in juvenile delinquency cases include:

The Right to be Informed of your Child’s Arrest

When a minor is arrested for allegedly committing a crime, they are taken to juvenile custody to be released, or a case is opened. When an officer takes your child before a probation officer or to the juvenile hall, they must notify the parents or guardians of the child. Not knowing the whereabouts of your child could be devastating. That is why you have the right to be notified if the child is taken to juvenile custody. This enables you to seek legal guidance and representation for the minor.

However, it is important to understand that your child could be questioned without knowing that an arrest has not taken place. You do not have a constitutional right to be present during the interrogation of your minor child. However, you can advise them to exercise their right to remain silent until they receive legal guidance. Police officers seek to build a case against your child with the slightest suspicion of a crime.

Mostly, you are allowed to visit your child in custody. Even when the officers are not physically present, the visits are not confidential. The interrogation rooms have cameras that could record your conversation. Therefore, seeking competent legal guidance is crucial before visiting your child.

A Right to Know your Child’s Constitutional Rights

Even when a person faces charges in California, they have rights that need to be respected during the arrest and prosecution. When your child is arrested and facing charges in juvenile court, you have to know their rights. The juvenile court deals with individuals between the age of twelve and seventeen. Most of these individuals are under their parents or guardians.

Facing the police and juvenile system may be traumatizing for your child. Also, the initial shock of being arrested may cause them to make incriminating statements against themselves. By understanding your child’s rights during the case, you can advise them accordingly. Your child has the following constitutional rights when facing a juvenile case:

  1. When arresting a minor for allegedly committing an offense, the police must have probable cause to search and make an arrest.

  2. If a minor is taken to custody and is not likely to be released soon, they have a right to at least one phone call. In this case, they can be able to alert you to seek legal counsel. Failure to grant the minor a phone call is against their Miranda rights, and the information gathered thereafter could be rendered inadmissible.

  3. Your child has a right to know the charges they face as soon as the arrest is made.

  4. A minor who has a pending case in juvenile court has the right to legal counsel. When you are first informed that your child has been arrested and is facing juvenile court charges, it would be wise to contact a competent criminal defense attorney.

  5. A minor has the right to cross-examine the witnesses. Although a juvenile hearing is not similar to a criminal trial in California, a child facing the juvenile system has the right to question the witnesses called to testify against them.

  6. The right to have their charges proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Before a minor is considered a delinquent, the state has the burden to prove the legitimacy of the charges brought against your child.

A Right for your Child’s Hearings to be Kept Secret

Facing the juvenile court could have a detrimental impact on your child’s life in the future. The social stigma that accompanies detention or other consequences of juvenile crimes is immense. Fortunately, you have a right for your child’s case and hearings to be kept secret. There are a wide variety of reasons for the strict confidentiality associated with juvenile proceedings, including:

  1. Confidentiality will promote the reputation and integrity of the minor. The public does not need to have access to the details of the crime that your child committed. This helps to avoid social stigma and a negative reputation likely to affect your child’s self-esteem.

  2. Your child’s future benefits from juvenile confidentiality. Juveniles are not capable of making sound and logical decisions as adults. The main aim of the juvenile process is rehabilitation. Therefore, keeping the hearings and case outcome confidential will help the individual have a high chance of obtaining meaningful employment.

  3. Family court matters are sensitive. Juvenile proceedings are likely to evoke family matters, and a child’s often a very sensitive environment. The proceedings are kept confidential to prevent the public from digging the information and using it against the minor or their families.

The Right to Attend the Court Hearings

Several hearings are held between when your child is arrested and when they face punishment for a crime they allegedly committed. The first hearing, commonly known as the detention hearing, is held to determine if the minor will be held in juvenile hall or goes home. The court will confirm who the parents of the child are before deciding to detain them. Therefore, you have a right to attend your child’s detention hearing.

After the detention hearing, the minor faces a jurisdiction hearing where the court decides if the petition is correct. If the minor doesn't contest the petition, then the disposition hearing is scheduled. At the disposition hearing, the case could be dismissed, or the child may face juvenile court punishment.

After every six months, a review hearing is scheduled to check the minor’s progress and how the parent is doing with the court ordered services. If your child is placed out of home, the court will determine whether you can take them home.

The Right to Inspect the Court Files and Probation Reports of your Child

Juvenile court proceedings are often confidential. The court attempts to protect the child’s reputation by denying public access to juvenile records. However, if your child is facing charges in the juvenile system, you have the right to access and inspect probation reports and court files belonging to the child. Other than the parent, minor’s records could be accessed by:

  • Your child’s attorney 

  • School officials

  • Federal, state, and city attorneys

  • Child protective agencies

  • Law enforcement agencies.

A Right to go Home with your Child Pending the Outcome of their Case

Sometimes, you have the right to take your child home before the juvenile case is closed. However, whether or not you exercise this case will depend on some factors of the case. When your child faces an arrest and is held in custody, they are entitled to a detention hearing. During this hearing, the court determines whether they will be kept in custody or go home awaiting the outcome of the case.

Some of the circumstances that could cause a minor to be held in juvenile hall after an arrest include:

  1. The minor violated a juvenile court order. Some of the minors who face the juvenile system may be repeat offenders. If your child has a history of violating the juvenile court order or has failed to adhere to probation rules set in the past, they are likely to be held in the juvenile hall awaiting the hearing of their case. In this case, you may not be able to exercise the right to take your child home.

  2. The child has escaped from a juvenile court commitment. When a minor is found to have committed a particular crime, they may face penalties such as probation. Sometimes, probation is served in a home camp. If the minor has once escaped a juvenile court’s commitment, they are held in the juvenile hall awaiting the outcome of their case.

  3. The child is a flight risk. Like adult criminal cases where individuals with a flight risk are not granted bail, a minor who is likely to escape and not show up in court could be held in juvenile hall. This helps ensure that they will attend the court hearing.

  4. Custody is necessary to protect the minor. Sometimes a child’s home environment could contribute to their criminal conduct. If the juvenile court believes that the child is not safe in their home while the case is pending, they will be held in juvenile custody.

  5. Detaining the minor is necessary to ensure the safety of another person. A minor who has committed a violent crime may threaten the alleged victim or other people. The court may decide to keep the minor in the juvenile hall to protect other people from harm.

Before the judge allows you to exercise your right to take the child home, the district attorney and the probation officer. Guidance from an attorney is necessary at this stage of the case to help convince the juvenile court that your child is not a flight risk or danger to other people.

Every right you have is accompanied by responsibility. Even though you may fail to face criminal charges for an offense committed by your child, you are liable in civil court to pay for the damages caused. If your child commits a crime that causes injury or property damage, you will be required to compensate the victims.

Find a Juvenile Delinquency Attorney Near Me

The juvenile system differs from the adult court in trials and punishment for different offenses. The law considers a person under eighteen years, incapable of making a sound decision. Therefore, a minor’s criminal conduct is not considered worthy of the punishment given to an adult who commits a similar crime.

A minor who is found in juvenile custody could face a punishment that will affect their lives for a long time. Having a child in the juvenile system, it can be a devastating process to see your child face the law. However, you have the right to give your child advice and be informed of all the proceedings of the juvenile case. 

Understanding your rights during the arrest, trial, and detainment of your child is crucial to ensure you give your full support. At Los Angeles Criminal Attorney, we will work with you to ensure all your rights and your child are protected during the legal process. Contact us today at 424-333-0943 from any location in Los Angeles, CA, and allow us to guide you through the difficult situation.