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.