Juvenile defense lawyer – Orange County

Orange County juvenile criminal defense FAQ’s

In California, anyone under 18 is considered a minor.  In general, the goal of the juvenile justice system is rehabilitation, but that doesn’t mean the charges can’t be serious and have lasting effects.

What happens when a child is arrested?

The criminal laws apply to minors in the same way they do as adults.  A child can be arrested for any criminal offense they commit, just like an adult.  There are also certain offenses that can only be committed by minors, known as “status offenses,” such as truancy or curfew violations.  The police have a certain amount of discretion when it comes to what they will do with your child after an arrest.  The most severe is that your child will be held in custody (“detained”) until they go to court within 48 hours of their arrest (excluding weekends and holidays).  The officer may choose to release your child to you or another responsible adult pending a decision by the juvenile authorities.

How can I bail my son or daughter out of juvenile hall/jail?

In the juvenile system, there is no such thing as bail.  Either your child is detained (held in custody) or they are not.  If they are detained pending a hearing in front of a judge or the judge orders your child detained, no amount of bail will release your child.  That first court appearance is crucial in determining if your child gets to go home with you or if they will be held in juvenile hall until their case is resolved.  Having an attorney prepared to address the judge at the first court hearing may make the difference.

What happens at the first court appearance for my child?

The first court appearance is called a “detention hearing” in juvenile court.  At that hearing, the judge will determine if your child will be held in custody or released while their case goes forward.  If your child was released after their arrest and you got a “notice of hearing on petition,” that first court appearance is a “pro per pre-trial.”  What that means is that charges have already been filed by the District Attorney‘s Office.  Your child will have to appear on the date and time indicated or an arrest warrant will be issued.  In all juvenile matters, the minor must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

What can I do to help my child at court?

Discuss the case with your attorney.  Sometimes, gathering information about your son or daughter’s background can help when the judge has to make a determination whether or not to release your child or keep them in juvenile hall.  If you can, gather things like report cards, awards and  accomplishments.  Your attorney may want additional things to present on your child’s behalf.

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