Katie's Blog

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Is Loitering Illegal? | What Is Loitering?


Loitering is the act of being in a public place with no specific purpose – for example, wandering aimlessly around a store for an hour with no intention of buying anything. Young adults under age 18 can also stand accused of loitering if they are unsupervised in areas like a park. Learn what this offense entails and how you can defend your child against it.

Loitering and Juveniles

Juvenile law is a specialized branch of our legal system that deals with crimes committed by minors. These violations tend to have different definitions and less severe consequences than those committed by adults. For example, “status offenses” like truancy and breaking curfew only count as criminal acts when minors commit them.

Loitering relates to both these status offenses because minors can be truant if they are absent from school with no valid reason. A child under age 18 who is in a public place and unaccompanied by a parent or guardian during the day when they should be in school can be charged with daytime loitering. Similarly, with some exceptions, minors in California are breaking curfew by being out unsupervised past 10 p.m.

Why Do Teens Loiter?

Adults tend to assume teenagers are disrespectful, destructive and misguided, which has led to the passage of laws intended to control minors’ behavior. Unfortunately, many communities lack community centers and other places where young adults can safely get together, which can lead them to congregate or “loiter” in places that are technically off-limits.

Cities have several ways of regulating where young people can go and what they can do, including curfews and anti-loitering ordinances. While these measures are ostensibly for safety reasons, they can be limiting for teenagers who want to spend time with their friends. Often, these burdens are even heavier for young people of color, teen girls, members of the LGBTQ+ community and teenagers with disabilities. The consequences of these policies can put teenagers at higher risk of getting kicked out of public spaces – or worse, being detained if someone calls the police.

Your Orange County, CA, Juvenile Criminal Attorney

If your child is facing criminal charges for loitering, truancy or breaking curfew, it’s critical for your family’s future to have legal representation you can count on. As an experienced California juvenile defense attorney and former prosecutor, Katie Walsh knows how to shepherd your child’s case to a positive conclusion. She’s handled thousands of juvenile court cases and can help your family understand all the ins and outs of the process. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation at our offices in Newport Beach or Tustin.

Monday, August 22, 2022

What Is Truancy? | California Truancy Laws


In California, public education is compulsory for all children between the ages of 6 and 18. The only exceptions to this law are homeschooled children, private school students or those with special needs. Children who miss too much school – and their parents or legal guardians – are breaking the law.

Learn how our state defines truancy and the potential consequences for you and your family if kids keep skipping school.

Is Skipping School Illegal?

It’s reasonable to keep a child home from school if they are sick, they have a health care appointment or there is a death in your immediate family. However, if a child is absent from school without a valid reason, California’s Education Code defines it as truancy. In California, public school students are truant if they have any combination of the following:
  • Three unexcused absences
  • Three unexcused tardies
  • Three absences exceeding 30 minutes
Students who miss 10% of the school year or are tardy on five or more occasions are chronically truant. Many students were involuntarily truant amid pandemic-related school closures because they lacked the internet access and other technology to participate in online learning.

Consequences of Truancy for Parents and Children

Truancy brings various possible consequences, including juvenile court in the most severe cases. The primary goal of California’s truancy laws is not to punish students and their families, but rather to encourage children to stay in school and get the benefits of public education so they can succeed in life.

California school districts have some leeway in determining how to handle student truancy cases. Typical consequences for truant students are:
  • Referral to the district’s School Attendance and Review Board
  • Compulsory meetings among the student, parents, and school officials
  • Counseling with required proof of attendance and completion
  • Attending classes to make up for the learning loss
  • Suspension of a student’s driving privileges
Parents of public-school students have a legal responsibility to send their children to school. You may face fines and criminal charges if you allow a child to skip school or otherwise fail to promote the value of education. If a judge finds you contributed to your child’s truancy, they may order you to pay fines of up to $2,500 and spend as much as a year in jail.

How Can an Attorney Help You?

If your family is facing charges for a truancy-related crime, you may find navigating the juvenile justice system is stressful and confusing. As an experienced juvenile defense attorney, Katie Walsh has handled thousands of cases and is an expert in school discipline. She will serve as an advocate for your family, standing by your side and helping prevent problems that might arise later in life when a minor has a criminal record.

Schedule a complimentary consultation to learn more about how we will prioritize your family’s best interests and work toward a result that will preserve your child’s future. For your convenience, we have offices in Tustin and Newport Beach, California.

Thursday, July 7, 2022

What Is the Sentence for a Juvenile Charged With Assault?


Under California law, children between the ages of 12 and 18 who get in legal trouble are juveniles. Getting involved in a fight is a typical way many minors find themselves on the wrong side of the law. After an altercation, a juvenile may be charged with assault.

What Is Assault?

You might assume “assault” and “battery” are synonymous terms because you’ve heard them used together so often. However, California law considers assault and battery as two separate convictions. The distinction is that assault is attempted violence, while battery is the violent act itself. Even if nobody got hurt, there can still be legal ramifications.

As a minor in California, your child will likely need to attend juvenile court proceedings, which have a different structure than adult court. Juvenile court is less formal and usually doesn’t have a jury. Also, the presiding judge doesn’t rule a minor guilty or innocent. Instead, if they find a juvenile committed the assault beyond a reasonable doubt, they will sustain the district attorney’s petition.

Another difference between the adult legal system and the juvenile justice system is that minors don’t have the option to post bail. That means your child will remain in custody until their next scheduled court date if a judge rules it.

What Are the Consequences of Juvenile Assault Charges?

Crimes committed by minors typically have less severe consequences than the same offenses committed by adults. For instance, in a juvenile assault case, a judge may require an underaged offender to attend court-ordered counseling or pay restitution to their victim instead of sentencing them to adult prison.

After more serious assault charges – such as those involving deadly weapons or harm done to an official such as a first responder – a minor may spend time in a juvenile detention facility. Alternatively, a judge might place them on probation, where they’ll have to follow rigorous activity restrictions and guidelines.

What Should You Do If Your Child Commits Assault?

Juvenile felonies can count toward California’s three-strikes law, which can lead to life imprisonment after the conviction of a third crime. That’s why it’s crucial to secure experienced legal representation as soon as possible to help you understand the potential charges and penalties your minor child may be facing.

As a former prosecutor, Katie Walsh has established a long track record of helping her clients in some of the most vulnerable circumstances, fighting to ensure the best results. In her career as a juvenile attorney, she’s guided thousands of families like yours through complex court cases. Many lawyers who focus solely on adult cases lack the knowledge necessary to successfully navigate the juvenile justice system, but an attorney who has chosen to concentrate her practice in juvenile law can help you and your family during a challenging time. She knows you do not want your child to have a criminal record, and she will do everything possible to ensure that doesn’t happen. To schedule a free consultation, contact our offices today.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

Juvenile Court Process Steps


If your child is facing criminal charges, you may understandably be overwhelmed, frightened and unsure where to turn. While juvenile court cases share many similarities with adult cases, you should be aware there are some distinct differences. Knowing how to handle the ins and outs of juvenile court can significantly impact the outcome of your child’s case.

Juvenile Justice in California

The California juvenile court process begins with an arrest. If the incident is not serious, the police may give the minor a warning and let them go. The arresting officer can also detain your child in juvenile hall or give them a citation to appear in court later, which allows them to return home in the meantime.

As your child’s case proceeds, they might need to attend the following hearings.
  • An arraignment is a formal reading of the criminal complaint in court to inform the child of the charges against them. Your juvenile attorney will enter a “not guilty” plea.
  • A detention hearing is your child’s first court date if they are in custody. At the detention hearing, a juvenile judge or referee will decide whether to detain or release your child, pending adjudication of the charges.
  • A pre-trial takes place after an arraignment or detention hearing. During the discovery process, the prosecution and defense attorneys discuss possible resolutions to the case and determine whether there should be a discussion of outstanding information.
  • Trial and adjudication occur if a case cannot be resolved before trial. In contrast to adult court, there’s no jury in juvenile court – only a judge.

What Can You Expect From the Juvenile Court Process?

In California, prosecutors typically treat underaged offenders less harshly than adults. As an alternative to punitive measures, they will usually steer minors to programs designed to help them. For example, a judge might require an adolescent to complete community service or pay a small fine instead of serving a prison sentence alongside adults. In cases involving more severe offenses, minors may spend time in a juvenile correction facility where they can continue pursuing an education and have access to counseling services that support their social and emotional development.

Though juvenile justice in California focuses more on rehabilitation than punishment, committing a criminal offense as a minor can still cause long-term consequences. That’s why it’s crucial to hire an experienced attorney to help you and your child navigate the juvenile court process.

Reliable Legal Representation for Your Family

Even as a minor, your child has a constitutional right to legal representation. If your child’s future is on the line after committing a juvenile offense, contact the Law Offices of Katie Walsh to arrange a complimentary consultation. As a former district attorney and prosecutor, Katie Walsh has handled thousands of juvenile cases and is also an expert in school disciplinary cases.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

How Long Can a Juvenile Be Detained?


When a juvenile offender is arrested in California and held in custody, they will have an initial hearing, where a judge will learn the circumstances of their case to determine whether they need to remain in detention. If a minor loses this detention hearing, they’ll most likely have to stay in juvenile hall until their case gets resolved.

What Is a Detention Hearing?

A detention hearing is the first court hearing the minor will attend. Even if your child has previously been released on “home supervision,” they are technically still in custody. While adult offenders can post bail to get out of jail, minors do not have that option. If the probation officer wants to keep your child in custody, the only way to get them out is by convincing the judge at the detention hearing, which is why it’s so critical to have experienced legal representation.

To keep a juvenile in custody, the judge must find the prosecutor has made a case that your child has committed a crime, and that they:
  • Have violated an order of the juvenile court.
  • Have escaped from juvenile court or are at risk of doing so.
  • Must remain in detention for their safety and well-being.
  • Must remain in detention for the protection of another person or their property.
To help make the decision, the judge will ask for input from the district attorney, the probation officer, the underaged offender, the juvenile’s attorney and the minor’s parents.

When Will the Detention Hearing Happen?

If your child is in custody for a minor, nonviolent offense, the detention hearing must take place within 48 hours of them being taken into custody – not including weekends or holidays. For juveniles who are in custody for a felony or misdemeanor involving violence, the detention hearing must take place within 72 hours.

The court must inform you of the time and place of your child’s detention hearing. If you don’t receive this notice, you can request another detention hearing within 24 hours, so you can be there in person.

If a judge rules that your child must stay in custody, they’ll remain at juvenile hall until their next scheduled court date. The law entitles your child to an adjudication hearing within 15 days.

Your Orange County, CA, Juvenile Criminal Attorney

It’s critical for a minor facing criminal charges to have experienced legal representation at every step of the way. As a qualified California juvenile defense attorney, Katie Walsh knows the best arguments to make so the court will let your child return home. A former prosecutor, she’s handled thousands of juvenile court cases and can help your family navigate the complexities of the process. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. We have offices in Newport Beach and Tustin.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Juvenile Drug Possession Penalties


Many juveniles in California enter the criminal justice system due to drug possession. As you may imagine, these drugs include illicit substances like meth, heroin and cocaine. However, juveniles can also get arrested for possessing potentially dangerous controlled medications such as OxyContin, Vicodin and Xanax, which are illegal to use or distribute without a doctor’s prescription.

Whether a teen gets caught using drugs or selling them to others, the ramifications could be far-reaching. Learn more about the juvenile justice system and the consequences of juvenile drug possession in California.

Understanding the California Juvenile Process

Juvenile law is a unique branch of our state’s justice system that focuses on rehabilitation instead of punishment. In California, minors between the ages of 12 and 18 typically do not get charged with offenses that would constitute crimes if an adult committed them. Instead, the system usually considers juvenile drug possession a delinquency.

The juvenile justice process starts with an arrest. If the arresting officers deem the offense is minor, they may decide to let the child go with a warning. However, law enforcement might opt to take minors into custody, in which case they will likely go to juvenile hall. It is also possible to put young offenders on probation.

What Happens in a Juvenile Delinquency Case?

A juvenile delinquency case may involve one or more court hearings. At each step in the process, minors have the right to an attorney, as decided in the landmark Supreme Court case called in re Gault. Parents and guardians also have the right to be present at their child’s court hearings.

The possible outcomes of juvenile drug possession may include:
  • Being put on probation, which might require young offenders to attend school, observe a curfew or complete community service or substance abuse treatment
  • Deferred judgment, in which the juvenile admits to the charge but is eligible to have it dismissed after completing the program
  • Commitment to a foster home, group home or probation camp
  • Placement in a juvenile detention facility for specific offenses, including some regarding drug manufacturing and sales
Though we firmly believe it is harmful to try juvenile offenders as adults, a judge may decide to do so if they determine the case is severe enough and the minor has a history of delinquency. Fortunately, a knowledgeable juvenile attorney can successfully argue to keep all the proceedings within the juvenile justice system.

Do You Need an Orange County Juvenile Defense Attorney?

Navigating the juvenile justice system can be stressful and overwhelming enough for adults, and even more so for adolescents who are too young to fully appreciate and process the consequences of their actions. That’s why it’s essential to find experienced legal representation to help you and your family.

As a former prosecutor and district attorney, Katie Walsh has overseen thousands of juvenile cases. She will look out for your family’s best interests and work toward an outcome that will put your child back on a healthy path, while preserving their future. If your child faces drug possession penalties or any other juvenile offense, schedule your complimentary consultation today.

Monday, January 31, 2022

Why Juveniles Should Not Be Tried as Adults


While youths under age 18 typically experience less severe penalties for committing crimes, some extreme offenses like murder and rape can lead juvenile court judges to try juveniles as adults. In California, minors as young as 14 can be tried as adults at a judge’s discretion. However, mounting evidence suggests this approach is harmful and ineffective.

What Are the Adverse Effects of Trying Juveniles as Adults?

Traditionally, our nation’s juvenile justice system has largely focused on rehabilitating young offenders, helping those who may have problematic home lives or are emotionally troubled. In juvenile detention centers, young people have access to various developmental and mental health programs, including counseling to help with issues like substance abuse.

In contrast, the adult criminal justice system is primarily punitive – offering few, if any, educational or rehabilitative services for inmates. Youth prosecuted in the adult system may witness violence and be victimized by older inmates, causing long-term psychological damage. Additionally, criminal records resulting from adult convictions can limit a young person’s future educational and career opportunities.

While imprisonment intends to deter people from committing future crimes, treating juveniles as adults has the opposite effect. According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, rearrest rates for young people within a year of release from a detention facility average 55%.

Biases in the Justice System

The practice of trying juveniles as adults also reflects racial biases at every stage of the process. People of color are overrepresented throughout our nation’s justice system, including juvenile court. Nationally, Black youth are five times more likely to be detained or confined than white juveniles, Indigenous juveniles are three times more likely and Latino youth are roughly two times more likely. These rates remain consistent even when the crimes committed by whites and people of color are identical.

Developmental Differences Between Juveniles and Adults

Another reason it’s unfair to try juveniles as adults is that teens are prone to make irrational, emotion-based decisions. Due to factors like peer pressure and emotional immaturity, young men and women might engage in increasingly risky behaviors as they go through puberty and test the boundaries adults have placed on them.

Though children’s brains are nearly fully grown by age 5, that does not mean they are finished developing. The prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for skills like planning and impulse control, is one of the last areas to mature. As a result, teens may be more willing to do dangerous or illegal things without stopping to consider the consequences. Charging youth as adults ignores this overwhelming evidence.

Incarcerating Youth Affects the Whole Family

Complexities in the juvenile justice system and court process may make parents feel confused or powerless, which can cause emotional upheaval in families. In addition, while financial hardship is a risk factor for juvenile crime, the economic burdens associated with court and legal fees can have long-lasting financial consequences.

To avoid these ramifications, you must hire an experienced juvenile attorney to help your family and ensure a brighter future for your child. Katie Walsh is a former prosecutor who knows the ins and outs of juvenile court and has handled thousands of cases. Contact us today for a free consultation.