When battling your minor’s juvenile delinquency case, the legal proceedings can be challenging. This is because of the complex juvenile justice system. Even though your child’s case is similar to an adult's, the juvenile court system prioritizes rehabilitation over punitive measures.

Despite the lenient approach, the implications of a juvenile criminal record can significantly impact the future of a minor. The distress after a child's arrest can be overwhelming for any family. Nevertheless, the legal system acknowledges the rights of juveniles and their guardians, offering avenues for advocacy and guidance.

As you navigate the legal system, the Monterey Criminal Attorney stands prepared to offer tailored legal support and strategic counsel. Contact us at your earliest convenience to learn how we can protect your child's future.

Defining Juvenile Delinquency

Juvenile delinquency refers to the involvement of individuals under the age of eighteen in illegal activities. It encompasses a range of criminal acts that vary in severity, from status offenses such as truancy or curfew violations to more serious offenses that would be considered crimes regardless of the perpetrator's age.

Classifications of Juvenile Offenses

These offenses can be categorized into three main groups:

Status Offenses

Status offenses primarily encompass a range of behaviors considered offenses only if committed by minors. These can include minor actions such as truancy, curfew violations, or running away from home, as well as more significant acts prohibited due to the individual's status as a minor.

In California, certain regulations specifically apply to minors, making certain activities unlawful until they reach the age of majority. For instance, possession of alcoholic beverages or driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above a specific limit is prohibited for individuals under the age of 21.

Juvenile Delinquency Crimes

These offenses encompass a wide range of criminal acts committed by children, irrespective of their age. Offenses such as vandalism, theft, or other forms of criminal behavior fall within this category and are subject to the jurisdiction of the juvenile delinquency courts.

Under California Welfare and Institution Code (WIC) 602, the juvenile justice system holds jurisdiction over criminal offenses committed by minors at the time of the offense. This inclusive approach emphasizes the need for tailored legal interventions and rehabilitation programs designed to address the unique circumstances and developmental needs of juvenile offenders.

Juveniles Tried as Adults

The legal system allows for certain juveniles to be tried as adults in cases involving particularly serious or violent crimes. When a juvenile offender, aged sixteen or older, is accused of committing specific offenses listed under California's Welfare and Institution Code 707(b), the possibility of being prosecuted as an adult becomes a significant concern.

These offenses include:

  • Murder, California Penal Code 187.
  • Attempted murder, California Penal Code 664/187(a).
  • Arson resulting in significant bodily harm/arson of a lived-in structure, California Penal Codes 451 and 452.
  • Robbery, California Penal Code 211.
  • Sodomy by violence, force, or threats of significant bodily injury, California Penal Code 286.
  • Rape with violence, force, or threats of significant physical injury, California Penal Code 261.
  • Lewd/lascivious acts with a minor under fourteen years with violence, force, or threats of significant bodily harm, California Penal Code 288.
  • Forcible sexual penetration, California Penal Code 289.
  • Oral copulation by violence, force, or threats of significant physical injury, California Penal Code 288a.
  • Kidnapping for robbery (aggravated), California Penal Code 209.
  • Kidnapping, California Penal Code 207.
  • Assault by force likely to cause significant bodily injury, California Penal Code 245a4.
  • Discharging a gun in a lived-in/occupied building, California Penal Code 246.
  • Felony dissuading/bribing a witness, California Penal Code 137.
  • Escape by violence or force from a juvenile hall, forestry camp, or ranch if significant bodily harm is deliberately inflicted on the facility employee, California Penal Code 871b.
  • Aggravated mayhem, California Penal Code 205.
  • Torture, California Penal Code 206.
  • Carjacking, California Penal Code 215.
  • Drive-by-shooting, California Penal Code 26100.
  • Voluntary manslaughter, California Penal Code 192.
  • Exploding any destructive device intending to commit murder, California Penal Code 18745.

The decision to try a juvenile as an adult is not made lightly and is determined upon a transfer hearing conducted by a juvenile court. During this hearing, various factors are considered to determine the juvenile's suitability for trial in the adult criminal court system.

These factors include:

  • The minor’s prior delinquent conduct.
  • The severity of the alleged crime.
  • The success of previous rehabilitation attempts.
  • The level of criminal sophistication exhibited by the juvenile.
  • The potential for effective rehabilitation within the juvenile system before reaching adulthood.

Should the judge rule that the juvenile is to be prosecuted as an adult, the case is transferred to the adult criminal court system. If found guilty, the minor will face the same legal consequences as an adult for a similar offense.

However, individuals under sixteen are not eligible for prosecution in adult criminal court, regardless of the nature of their alleged crimes.

The process of trying juveniles as adults shows the gravity of certain offenses and highlights the critical role of the judicial system in addressing complex legal matters that involve young individuals. While the approach seeks to ensure accountability for serious crimes, it also shows the necessity for balanced considerations when dealing with juvenile criminal cases.

Crimes that Will Automatically Lead To Your Child Being Prosecuted as a Grownup

Specific crimes can automatically lead to a juvenile being prosecuted as an adult without needing a transfer hearing. These crimes are categorized under California's Welfare and Institution Code 602(b) and typically involve severe acts of violence or sexual offenses.

The crimes include:

  • Rape with violence, force, or threats of significant bodily injury, California Penal Code 261.
  • Gang rape, California Penal Code 264.1.
  • Forcible sexual penetration, California Penal Code 289.
  • Lewd or lascivious acts with a minor under fourteen years with violence, force, or threats of significant bodily harm, California Penal Code 288.
  • Oral copulation or sodomy by violence, force, or threats of significant bodily injury, California Penal Code 288a.

The offenses above represent egregious acts that warrant immediate attention and stringent legal measures. Classifying these crimes as automatic triggers for adult prosecution reflects the legal system's prioritization of public safety and the protection of vulnerable individuals, especially in cases involving violent or sexually related offenses.

What Happens When a Child Is Placed Under Arrest?

When a child faces an arrest, the authorities may handle the situation in various ways, depending on the severity of the criminal act.

These measures can range from issuing a warning and allowing the minor to return home if the offense is deemed less severe to taking the minor into custody, commonly known as detention, for more serious allegations.

Below is what happens when a child is apprehended by law enforcement:

  • Warning and Release. If the alleged offense is not serious, the police might issue a warning and allow the child to return home.
  • Citation and Promise. For less severe cases, the child might receive a citation and be asked to promise in writing to visit the probation office later. They can then go home temporarily.
  • Detention. In more severe instances, the juvenile might be detained and taken to the juvenile hall. During this period, the child can make calls within a specific timeframe, including one to their parent or guardian and another to an attorney.
  • Interrogation Rights. If the arresting officer intends to interrogate the child, they must first read them their Miranda rights. Children aged fifteen or below should be allowed to consult with an attorney before speaking to the arresting officer or waiving their Miranda rights.

The legal rights of both the minor and their parent or guardian should be observed at every step of the process, including the right to legal counsel and information regarding the minor's detention and legal rights.

Parental Responsibilities If Your Minor is Under Arrest

When your minor is under arrest, you, as a parent or guardian, bear crucial responsibilities. These responsibilities are pivotal in protecting your child's rights and shaping the course of their legal proceedings. These include:

  1. Law enforcement should inform you promptly that your child has been detained. You must be informed of the precise jail where your child is being held and be briefed about their legal rights.
  2. Your child has a right to legal counsel. While you may not need to hire an attorney, it's advisable to secure legal representation for your child. If you cannot afford a lawyer, the court will appoint one.
  3. Depending on the circumstances, you might bear financial responsibility for any damages or injuries caused by your child. This can include compensating victims for losses, damages, medical bills, or stolen property.
  4. If your child is ordered to visit the probation office, you should comply with the officer's instructions and requirements. This can include adherence to specific programs or conditions mandated by the probation officer.

602 Proceedings

602 proceedings are a critical component of the legal process involving juvenile offenders and are governed by specific regulations outlined in the California law section related to delinquency-related proceedings.

These proceedings involve hearings presided over by judges, where cases are decided without the presence of juries. The nature of these hearings emphasizes the need for comprehensive legal representation and advocacy to protect minors' rights and well-being.

The confidential nature of these proceedings emphasizes the importance of adhering to strict legal guidelines and ethical standards to secure the best possible outcome for the juvenile in question. The 602 proceedings operate within the civil law system, distinctly different from the state's criminal law system. This distinction shapes how cases are handled and resolved within the juvenile delinquency court.

A significant amendment came into effect with the signing of Senate Bill (SB) 439 by Governor Jerry Brown. This bill restricts the jurisdiction of the juvenile court over children under the age of twelve, except in cases involving specific severe crimes such as rape, murder, or other heinous offenses.

The 602 proceedings encompass various hearings that shape the trajectory of the case. These include the detention hearing, fitness hearing, adjudication hearing, and disposition hearing. Each stage serves a specific purpose, such as determining the need for continued custody, assessing the minor's suitability for trial, conducting the trial itself, and deciding the appropriate sentence or disposition.

During the adjudication hearing, the prosecution must present compelling evidence proving the minor's guilt. The minor also has the opportunity to defend themselves with the assistance of a defense lawyer.

The judge, upon finding the minor guilty, proceeds to determine an appropriate sentence or disposition, considering factors such as the severity of the offense and the minor's rehabilitation prospects.

Sentencing Options for Your Child

The sentencing options for your child significantly impact their future. You want to understand the various sentencing options available to ensure the best possible outcome for their case.


One of the options includes informal probation, which allows the minor to avoid admitting guilt, and their charges are eventually dropped after completing the probationary period.

If the court opts for probation, the minor must adhere to specific conditions set by the court for a period. These conditions can include regular check-ins with a probation officer, community service program participation, and curfew compliance.

Counseling and Rehabilitation Programs

Other sentencing options include deferred entry of judgment (DEJ), where the minor must acknowledge the validity of the petitioner's claims, and their case is dismissed upon completing the designated program.

Juvenile delinquency cases often involve underlying issues that may benefit from counseling or rehabilitation programs. These programs aim to address behavioral problems, substance abuse issues, or other psychological challenges that may have contributed to the minor's delinquent behavior.

Community Service

Courts may impose community service as part of the sentencing, requiring the minor to contribute a specified number of hours to community-based organizations or public service initiatives. This is a form of restitution and fosters a sense of responsibility and community engagement.

Fines and Restitution

Monetary fines and restitution might be ordered, particularly in cases where the delinquent act resulted in financial loss or damage. The minor may be required to compensate the victim for any harm caused, emphasizing accountability and restitution.

Juvenile Detention

In more severe cases, the court may order juvenile detention, involving placement in a juvenile correctional facility for a specified period. This involves commitment to the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), previously known as the California Youth Authority (CYA), which operates as the state prison system for juvenile offenders. The aim is to ensure public safety and provide a structured environment conducive to the minor's rehabilitation and behavior modification.

Diversion Programs

Certain cases may qualify for diversion programs, offering an alternative to formal court processing. These programs typically involve community-based interventions that focus on rehabilitation and prevention rather than punishment, allowing the minor to avoid the potential negative consequences of formal adjudication.

Probation Conditions

Probation conditions for minors are specifically designed to facilitate their personal growth, discourage repeated offenses, and promote responsible behavior.

These conditions may include:

  • Regular Check-Ins. As part of the probationary terms, the minor might be required to check in regularly with a probation officer. These meetings allow the probation officer to monitor the minor's progress, address concerns, and provide necessary guidance and support.
  • Curfews. Imposing specific curfew hours is a common probation condition, ensuring that the minor remains within designated boundaries during particular hours. This restriction discourages involvement in delinquent activities during unsupervised times, promoting responsible behavior and parental supervision.
  • School Attendance and Performance. Ensuring consistent school attendance and satisfactory academic performance is often a fundamental probation condition. Compliance with this requirement underscores the significance of education and encourages the minor to remain actively engaged in their studies and personal development.
  • Community Service. Participation in community service programs serves as both a punitive and rehabilitative measure. The court may require the minor to dedicate several hours to community-based initiatives, fostering a sense of responsibility, empathy, and social awareness.
  • Counseling and Treatment Programs. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the court might mandate participation in counseling or treatment programs. These programs address underlying behavioral or psychological issues and aim to facilitate the minor's rehabilitation and successful reintegration into the community.
  • Substance Abuse Monitoring. In cases involving substance abuse, the court may require the minor to undergo regular drug testing or participate in substance abuse treatment programs. These measures help minors address and mitigate any substance-related issues that may have contributed to their minor’s delinquent behavior.

Additionally, minors may be required to refrain from associating with specific individuals, actively participate in victim restitution efforts, or participate in graffiti removal initiatives.

Lasting Repercussions of Juvenile Sentencing

The repercussions of juvenile sentencing can extend far beyond the immediate consequences, impacting various aspects of the minor's life and future.

A juvenile delinquency record can impede educational and career opportunities. Educational institutions and employers often conduct background checks, and a history of delinquency may lead to rejections or limited access to certain educational programs and employment opportunities.

Juvenile sentencing can contribute to the stigmatization of minors within their community and social circles. Negative perceptions and stereotypes associated with delinquency might lead to social isolation, strained relationships, and a diminished sense of self-worth, impacting the minor's emotional well-being and social integration.

Certain professions and occupations require specific licenses or certifications. However, some licensing boards may consider a juvenile delinquency record during the application process, potentially hindering the minor's pursuit of specific career paths or professional endeavors.

Minors with a juvenile delinquency record might face limitations when attempting to enlist in the military. The armed forces often have strict eligibility criteria, and a history of delinquent behavior can disqualify individuals from serving in certain capacities.

Sealing Juvenile Criminal Records

Sealing juvenile criminal records can give minors a second chance and a fresh start. Sealing juvenile records involves restricting public access to the individual's criminal history, rendering the records invisible to the general public.

The primary aim of this process is to provide individuals with the opportunity to move forward without the burden of past legal transgressions hindering their prospects for education, employment, and social integration.

Various jurisdictions have specific eligibility criteria for sealing juvenile records. Typically, eligibility is contingent on factors such as the nature of the offense, the individual's age at the time of the offense, the completion of rehabilitation programs or sentences, and the absence of subsequent criminal activity.

Initiating the record-sealing process often involves filing a formal petition with the juvenile court. This petition may necessitate specific documentation, including court orders, case summaries, rehabilitation certificates, and character references.

Sealing juvenile criminal records has many benefits, including enhanced employment prospects, improved educational opportunities, and reduced social stigma. Moreover, sealing records can give individuals a renewed sense of dignity and the freedom to pursue personal and professional aspirations without the constant shadow of past legal entanglements.

While record sealing offers a path to a fresh start, certain limitations and exceptions may apply. In some instances, law enforcement agencies and specific government entities may retain access to sealed records for law enforcement purposes or certain background checks.

The Difference between Juvenile Delinquency and Juvenile Dependency

These two legal concepts represent distinct aspects of the juvenile justice system, addressing different circumstances and concerns involving minors.

  • Juvenile Delinquency

Juvenile delinquency refers to the legal designation of minors who have committed acts that would be considered criminal if committed by an adult. These acts can range from minor offenses, such as truancy and curfew violations, to more serious crimes, including theft, vandalism, violent offenses, and others mentioned above.

Juvenile delinquency cases typically involve the adjudication and sentencing of minors within the juvenile justice system, aiming to rehabilitate and reintegrate them back into society as law-abiding citizens.

  • Juvenile Dependency

In contrast, juvenile dependency pertains to cases involving minors who have been subjected to neglect, abuse, or abandonment by their parents or legal guardians. Juvenile dependency proceedings focus on the protection and well-being of the child to ensure a safe and nurturing environment for their physical, emotional, and developmental needs. These cases often involve child welfare agencies, foster care placements, and court interventions aimed at safeguarding the best interests of the child.

Legal Framework and Procedural Variances

Juvenile delinquency and dependency cases operate within distinct legal frameworks and procedural parameters. While delinquency cases primarily revolve around the commission of criminal acts by minors, dependency cases center on the protection and welfare of minors in situations of neglect or abuse.

The legal processes, court proceedings, and interventions differ significantly between these two categories, emphasizing the specialized approach required to address the unique challenges associated with each case type.

Rehabilitative vs. Protective Measures

A fundamental difference between juvenile delinquency and juvenile dependency lies in the underlying objectives of the legal interventions. Juvenile delinquency proceedings often emphasize rehabilitative measures aimed at guiding and reforming the behavior of the minor offender, focusing on their successful reintegration into society.

In contrast, juvenile dependency cases prioritize the protection and safety of the child, implementing measures to secure a stable and nurturing environment conducive to the child's overall well-being and development.

Collaborative Approach and Holistic Support

Effectively addressing both juvenile delinquency and juvenile dependency requires a collaborative approach involving legal professionals, social workers, counselors, and various stakeholders committed to promoting the best interests of the child.

By recognizing the distinct nature of these legal categories and fostering a comprehensive support network, communities can better safeguard the rights and welfare of minors, ultimately contributing to their holistic well-being and prospects.

Find a Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

Considering the legal implications concerning your child's involvement in juvenile delinquency, you want to secure the representation of a proficient criminal defense attorney.

At the Monterey Criminal Attorney, we are ready to offer comprehensive legal support tailored to your minor’s specific needs. With a profound understanding of the intricate workings of the California juvenile justice system, we are committed to mitigating the severity of the charges and alleviating any enduring ramifications.

For further guidance and our services, contact us at 831-574-1791. Your child's future deserves steadfast advocacy, and we are here to provide it.