Orange County Juvenile Law Overview
Criminal defendants under the age of eighteen are generally sent to juvenile court. The juvenile court system handles two primary types of offenses: (1) when a minor commits an act that is considered a crime, regardless if the act is committed by a minor or adult (“juvenile delinquency cases”); and (2) when a minor commits an act that is normally considered legal for adults, but is considered illegal for minors (“juvenile status offenses”). The team of experienced and skilled Orange County Juvenile Lawyers at Wallin & Klarich has years of experience handling both types of juvenile cases and will work with any juvenile offender to structure an effective and aggressive defense.
A juvenile criminal defendant must be brought to court within forty-eight hours of arrest and advised of the charges against him/her. In juvenile court, a defendant facing criminal charges is not entitled to jury trial. Instead, the defendant will be subject to a bench trial, in which the judge scrutinizes the evidence and renders a verdict. Although a bench trial utilizes different procedures than does a jury trial, the prosecutor is required to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in both proceedings.
During the first court hearing of a juvenile case (the detention hearing), the judge determines which course the defendant will take pending the outcome of the case. The judge may decide that the minor be released to his/her parents, if the judge is sufficiently convinced that the minor does not pose a serious risk to the community and the minor’s parents will provide sufficient supervision. Conversely, the judge may determine that the defendant be detained in juvenile hall pending the outcome of the case. Unfortunately, bail is not available in juvenile cases.
If the juvenile defendant is over the age of fourteen and accused of particular crimes, the prosecutor has the power to try the defendant as an adult. In making this decision, the prosecutor exposes the defendant to an array of sentences and penalties that are not readily available in juvenile court. An accused who consults with an Orange County Juvenile Attorney in the early stages of investigation or upon arrest may be able to avoid these potentially harsh consequences.
The sentencing and punishment associated with a conviction in juvenile court range from minimally serious to very severe. Some less serious penalties include: probation, restitution to the victim, community service, living in a halfway house or custody time. On the other hand, the consequences can be very harsh. Some more severe penalties include: training school or secure facilities (“lock up”). After release, a juvenile defendant may succeed in sealing or destroying his/her juvenile record. The ability to seal or destroy the juvenile record is contingent upon the particular crime committed and the length of time that elapsed since the minor left the juvenile court system.
The Orange County Juvenile Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich have over 30 years of experience handling juvenile criminal cases. Our Orange County Juvenile Lawyers will work to achieve the best possible outcome in your particular case. We will guide you through every step of the process and ensure that you have the most effective and aggressive representation possible. Please call our offices at 1-888-749-0034 or submit the form at the top of this page to receive immediate assistance and answers to your questions.