Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Juvenile Theft Cases & Avoiding Becoming "A Ward Of The Court"

One of the most common crimes in Juvenile Court is Burglary or Petty Theft. A general scenario is where a Minor, or Minor and their friends go in and steal from a department store. As a parent, what do you do? You know it’s not acceptable behavior and you want your child to take responsibility for their actions—but you also know it’s not the “crime of the century” and you do not want this following your child around for the rest of their life.

There are a few options for your child to avoid becoming “a ward of the court” in the Juvenile Court System, if your child can qualify. The juvenile court system goal is to rehabilitate your child instead of punishment, as in the adult court system.

The best case scenario is for the Probation Department to be contacted before the report goes to the District Attorney’s office and be handled informally under the Welfare & Institutions Code 654. Your child’s case can be handled informally through probation for six months. If your child complies with probation and terms (generally a class and/or volunteer hours) the case will not be directed to the District Attorney’s Office and therefore not filed in court.

If the case is filed with the District Attorney’s Office there is still a chance for the case to be handled informally under W&I §654 and §725, should your child qualify. Under § 654 your child will be on unsupervised informal probation for six months. Under §725 your child will be on supervised informal probation for six months. After six months your child completes the terms (generally a class and/or volunteer hours), the case will be dismissed. Note: your child will never enter a guilty plea and will not be sentenced on the offense thus the petition is not sustained against him/her. This saves your child from having the juvenile equivalent of a conviction and keeps their record clean.

Another option is Deferred Entry of Judgment or “DEJ” under Welfare & Institutions Code 790. Under DEJ, after approximately 1 year of informal unsupervised probation and completed terms and conditions, the case is dismissed. Although he/she must plead guilty upfront, your child is never sentenced on the offense. This saves your child from having the juvenile equivalent of a conviction and keeps their record clean.

Contact The Law Office of Katie Walsh at (714) 619-9355 to discuss your child’s case.

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