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Juvenile Crimes Help: My Child Has Been Arrested

One of a parents’ worst nightmares is to find out that their son or daughter has been arrested or detained by the police.  Juveniles make mistakes and most have never been exposed to legal consequences.  Preserving your child’s record, so that their college goals and future employment are not affected negatively, should be the first priority.

If your child is arrested, the police can:

  • Make a record of the arrest and let your child go home.
  • Send your child to an agency that will shelter, care for, or counsel your child.
  • Make your child come back to the police station. This is called being “cited back.”
  • Give you and your child a Notice to Appear. Read the notice and do what it says.
  • Put your child in juvenile hall (this is called “detention”). Your child can make at least two phone calls within 1 hour of being arrested. One call must be to a parent, guardian, relative, or boss. The other call must be to a lawyer.

If the police want to talk to your child about what happened, the police must tell your child about his or her legal rights (called “Miranda rights”), which are: your child has the right to remain silent; anything your child says will be used against him or her in court; your child has the right to a lawyer. You have rights, too.  The police must also tell you as soon as your child is locked up. They have to tell you where your child is and what rights he or she has.

The juvenile justice system is different from the adult justice system.  Juvenile delinquency proceedings involve children under the age of 18 (minor) alleged to have committed a delinquent act which would be considered a crime if committed by an adult.  In Orange County Juvenile Court, the focus is on treatment and rehabilitation for the juvenile while the adult justice system focuses on punishment.

However, depending upon the charge, a juvenile can be prosecuted as an adult and be subject to the same penalties as an adult.  If the minor is over the age of 14 and the alleged delinquent act is a serious offense, such as murder or sex crime, the minor could be tried as an adult in adult criminal court.

The authority of juvenile court is contained within the California Welfare and Institutions Code. The law says the court has to protect the public and minors who are subject to juvenile proceedings. To ensure this, juvenile court judges have to consider the following:

  • How to keep the public safe and protected,
  • How to help the victim, and
  • What orders would be in the best-interest of the minor and victims.

The judge decides if the court will intervene in the minor’s future.  If it does, the judge has to consider the appropriate course of action for the minor, and how to make the minor take responsibility for his or her actions.  The court will then decide how to care for, treat, and guide the minor.  This can include punishment so that the minor learns to obey the law.

If your child is arrested for a crime, it is extremely important that you retain an attorney familiar with the Orange County Juvenile Court. Being familiar with the Judges, District Attorneys, Court Clerks and Probation Department, will help facilitate the best possible outcome for your child.

Legal updates by the Orange and Riverside County Law Firm of Don Ho, LLP.

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