Katie's Blog

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.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

What Is a Juvenile?

While many constitutional rights apply equally to minors and adults, like free speech and the right to have legal representation, other laws differ depending on the age of the person committing the criminal offense. How old is a juvenile? While this definition varies among states, California law considers juvenile offenders to be between the ages of 12 and 18.

What Is Juvenile Law?

Juvenile law is a unique legal specialty dealing with crimes committed by minors, which tend to have different definitions and less severe consequences than offenses committed by adults. For example, “status offenses” like truancy and curfew violations only count as criminal acts when minors commit them.

In general, the legal system treats juveniles somewhat more gently and focuses on rehabilitation instead of punishment. For instance, a judge may order an underaged offender to complete community service or pay a small fine instead of serving a prison sentence alongside adults. For more serious crimes, minors may spend time in a juvenile correction facility, where they will continue receiving an education and have access to counseling services that support their social and emotional development.

While charging a minor as an adult is rare, it can happen in severe cases such as rape and murder. Ultimately, the prosecutor is responsible for deciding whether to pursue this course.

What Is Juvenile Court?

Juvenile court has some similarities to an adult proceeding, but it is less formal overall and typically does not involve a jury trial. Additionally, the judge doesn’t rule a minor guilty or innocent. Rather, if they find a juvenile committed the alleged crime beyond a reasonable doubt, they will sustain the district attorney’s petition. With relatively slight offenses like shoplifting, the judge may also agree to dismiss the charges after a period of good behavior or completion of informal probation.

Originally, juveniles who committed crimes did not have access to legal representation, limiting options and oversight for cases that entered America’s juvenile justice system. In 1967, the Supreme Court case in re Gault changed juvenile court governance by ruling that the 14th Amendment’s due process clause applied equally to minors and adults.

As our knowledge of behavioral science continues evolving, so does the juvenile justice system. For instance, we now know that the human brain is not fully developed around age 25, which means juveniles tend to have a diminished capacity for making rational decisions compared to adults. This research has been instrumental in changing how the criminal justice system handles crimes committed by minors and required the adoption of new rules and standards for law enforcement interrogation of underaged offenders, among other things.

Protect Your Child With Experienced Legal Representation

While juvenile law tends to be less punitive, having a criminal offense on record, even as a minor, can cause repercussions into adulthood. However, California allows many underaged offenders to seal these records once they turn 18, essentially erasing the crimes as if they never happened.

If your child has committed 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. Your family deserves reliable representation when your child’s future is on the line.

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Juvenile Crime Statistics

Young people who commit illegal offenses before reaching legal adulthood are at risk of entering the world’s largest prison system, losing their freedom and ending up burdened with a criminal record that can threaten their educational and employment opportunities. In the U.S., thousands of people under the age of 18 get arrested in an average year.

A juvenile court may order a minor convicted of committing an underage offense to perform community service, pay a fine, remain in home confinement or even incarcerate them in a juvenile correction facility. In extreme circumstances like murder or rape, a judge may decide to transfer the case outside the juvenile justice system and treat the child as an adult. Juvenile court cases can be tricky to navigate, which is why you need the knowledge and guidance an experienced attorney can provide.

Has Juvenile Crime Increased or Decreased?

According to a report published by the National Center for Juvenile Justice, courts with juvenile jurisdiction handled an estimated 722,600 cases in 2019. The makeup of these was as follows.
  • Person offenses, such as assault: 33%
  • Property offenses, such as burglary and vandalism: 30%
  • Public order offenses, such as disorderly conduct: 24%
  • Drug offenses, such as buying or selling illegal substances: 13%
While the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice notes that juvenile arrests in California have been on the decline, those who get arrested are facing harsher punishment. Their research points to a need to investigate and reform the systemic factors leading to an increase in arrests resulting in referral, disposition and detention.

Juvenile Crime Risk Factors

Some juvenile crimes, like truancy or underage drinking, often stem from impulsive decision-making. Research has shown that the rational part of the human brain is not fully developed until about age 25, which is why adolescents might act without thinking through the long-term consequences of their decisions.

If your child has friends who engage in delinquent or illegal behavior, they may feel pressured to fit in by going along with the crowd. Or, they may act out in response to bullying and rejection because they have had fewer opportunities to participate in healthy, beneficial social interactions.

Other factors that may put a young person at higher risk of committing a juvenile crime include:
  • School suspensions and expulsions
  • Academic challenges, including below-average achievement
  • A history of emotional and behavioral issues
  • Mental health disorders, including trauma and depression
  • Substance abuse

Providing Peace of Mind for You and Your Loved Ones

Regardless of the circumstances, your family does not deserve to face the long-lasting ramifications that can accompany juvenile crime in California. If your child is in legal trouble, an experienced Orange County juvenile defense attorney can take the case and help ensure their future stays promising.

As a district attorney and juvenile defense specialist, Katie Walsh has successfully represented some of the most challenging cases. Today, she uses her expertise on the ins and outs of the juvenile court system to tailor legal strategies for her clients’ best interest. You do not have to face the challenges associated with juvenile crime alone. Contact our office today to schedule your complimentary consultation.

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Are Juvenile Records Sealed When You Turn 18?

If you have a juvenile record in California, you should know that it is open to the public. This documentation includes all the information about criminal activity you were allegedly involved with before you turned 18, including arrest and probation reports and court findings and rulings.

Having a juvenile record can make it exponentially more challenging for young adults to successfully find meaningful employment, apply for a bank loan, get a driver’s license, rent an apartment or get accepted into school. Fortunately, having a case sealed makes it as if it never happened. Here’s what you need to know about the process of sealing juvenile records in California.

What Happens to Your Record Once You Turn 18?

Many people assume that a juvenile record immediately turns into a non-issue once they become legal adults. However, that’s not the case in California, where the court does not automatically seal juvenile records. That means your record will remain available for anyone to access unless you proactively seek out a judicial order to have it sealed.

There are multiple advantages to sealing your juvenile record, most notably that doing so will give you a fresh start – from that point on, no one will know about it. If anyone asks you if you’ve been arrested or if you have a criminal record, you can truthfully and confidently answer “no.”

Eligibility Requirements

Not everyone is eligible to petition to have their juvenile records sealed – there are some notable exceptions. For instance, some violent crimes such as murder, assault, robbery and carjacking are typically unsealable, depending on your age at the time of the offense.

If you apply for a job with a law enforcement agency, your record might be also visible to them when they run a background check on you.

You are eligible to have your juvenile records sealed if you are older than 18, or if at least five years have passed since your most recent arrest or discharge from probation. You must also be able to prove to the court that you have been rehabilitated, and there must not be any pending litigation resulting from any of the crimes on your juvenile record. Additionally, you can’t have been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony for crimes involving “moral turpitude,” such as voluntary manslaughter or rape.

Protect Your Future

While the process of applying to have a juvenile record sealed can help empower young adults by giving them new insights into the justice system, it’s best to have reliable legal representation to ensure a former juvenile offender can enter adulthood with a clean slate. As a former prosecutor, Katie Walsh has handled thousands of juvenile cases, making her one of the most experienced attorneys in these matters.

When the Law Offices of Katie Walsh represents your legal defense, we will help you file a record-sealing petition. Together, you and your attorney will attend the court hearing that determines the petition outcome. Once a judge decides to seal a juvenile record, all related information will get destroyed after five years, allowing you to make a fresh start with your adult life. Contact us today for your free consultation.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Suspension and Expulsion During COVID-19

The emergence and rapid spread of COVID-19 brought seismic changes that closed businesses and schools across the country. Without the ability to teach in person, educators scrambled to find creative ways to conduct classes online. The switch to online learning caused unique stresses among teachers, students and families.

Educators and policymakers have predominantly focused their efforts on finding solutions for providing remote instruction, helping students who lack access to the technology necessary to learn online, and all the other essential community services schools typically provide. Unfortunately, any meaningful discussion about COVID-19’s effects on school discipline has largely fallen by the wayside.

School Discipline in the COVID-19 Era

Under typical circumstances, most infractions that constitute grounds for expulsion involve behavior that takes place on school property – such as using tobacco products on campus or bringing a weapon to class. However, despite the switch to a virtual environment, where on-campus rule violations are impossible, some schools and school districts still require students to serve suspensions and expulsions.

For example, one fourth-grader in Louisiana faced expulsion after his teacher noticed a BB gun in his room during online class. The school later amended the expulsion to a six-day suspension after the family’s attorney successfully argued that events taking place in a private home are different from those that happen on campus, and that school policies needed an update to reflect that.

Are We Overdue to Reform School Disciplinary Measures?

Controversy about school discipline was prevalent even before the pandemic forced students, teachers and parents to adapt to distance learning. For example, a 2020 report from the Center for Civil Rights Remedies at the UCLA Civil Rights Project and the Learning Policy Institute found that K-12 students from coast to coast missed out on a total of 11 million instructional days in a single academic year due to out-of-school suspension.

The same report highlighted alarming racial disparities in school suspension data, pointing to the fact that students of color miss significantly more instructional days due to suspensions than their white classmates. This phenomenon occurs nationwide, suggesting the need for reform. Citing the adverse effects of school push-outs on students, a coalition of organizations wrote a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom in April 2020 to request that he issue a moratorium on school expulsions during the pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has spotlighted the need to reevaluate a host of societal issues, from our health care system to our work/life balance. Perhaps the additional attention paid to school discipline during virtual learning will lead officials to rethink their outdated suspension and expulsion policies, with a specific focus on how these disciplinary methods impact some of the most vulnerable students.

What to Do If Your Student Faces Expulsion

In California, your student may be subject to expulsion for making an impulsive adolescent decision. At the Law Offices of Katie Walsh, we help families avoid disciplinary actions that could have far-reaching repercussions on their child’s future. As a former prosecutor, Katie Walsh has handled thousands of juvenile cases. If you need the expertise of a knowledgeable Southern California school expulsion attorney, contact us today to schedule a free, confidential consultation.