Juvenile Defense Attorney

When it comes to your child’s well being, future, and their freedom, you need to secure a criminal attorney in San Diego who will fight as hard for your child as you will.

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Juvenile Defense in San Diego, CA

We know that children make mistakes and that sometimes, they make particularly large ones. Having been children ourselves once upon a time, we really get it. After all, we did not start out as juvenile defense lawyers in San Diego!

We also understand however that the mistakes of youth can, but should not, necessarily, interfere with your child’s long term, future plans. Bowing to peer pressure to commit a crime as a child can negatively impact the educational and occupational choices your child makes when they get older. That is why hiring a qualified, discerning, and sensitive attorney who is familiar with your child as well as the law, is critical to your child’s case.

What Are the Different California Juvenile Court Hearings?

To be clear, juvenile court cases are serious events that are likely to stay with your children on many levels, for a long time. And while juvenile court cases do not go to trial or involve bail proceedings, there are several different types of hearings that juvenile offenders can and will experience if they find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

The Arraignment Hearing

The arraignment hearing is the initial meeting between juvenile and judge. It is during arraignment where the judge will explain the charges brought against the child as well as their constitutional rights, and ask how they choose to plead. Arraignment is a standard part of the criminal justice process, no matter what type of hearing follows.

The “Dennis H.” Hearing

If a minor is proven to have committed a crime and the judge deems it necessary for them to be held in custody, the case against the minor must be clearly made, the child deemed a flight risk, and detention as a means of protection of the child and others must also be made clear.

In order to prevent your child from being detained, you need the support and skill of a qualified San Diego criminal attorney. If however, your child is ordered detained, your San Diego juvenile defense attorney can request a second hearing, known as a Dennis H. hearing. During this second hearing, questionable evidence, as presented by the arresting officer, is brought forth. It is during this hearing that your child’s attorney should be able to have them released from detention. It is important to note, however, that Dennis H. hearings must occur within three days of the child’s arraignment.

The Fitness Hearing

A determination regarding a minor child’s fitness to be tried as an adult may take place if the crime committed is quite severe.

The Pretrial Hearing

During a pretrial hearing, there will be attempts to settle your child’s case without going to trial. If it cannot be resolved, the case will in fact proceed.

The Jurisdictional Hearing

During this hearing, the presiding judge will determine if, in fact, the minor child committed the crime. If they are adjudicated to have broken the law, the minor will proceed to a dispositional hearing.

The Dispositional Hearing

A skilled juvenile defense attorney in San Diego is needed, especially if your minor child has been found guilty of committing a crime. It is during a dispositional hearing in which your child will learn of their punishment.

What is a Jurisdictional Adjudication or Hearing?

Procedures are in place to determine—with as much clarity as possible—that the arresting officer reports what they believe your minor child did in fact do. Additionally, the judge must gather and use information from the child’s legal guardians, these guardians must agree with what is written, or submit to the details provided. The legal guardians may dispute the officer’s report during a jurisdictional hearing, enabling the court to determine whether or not the officer’s petition is true.

Judges are required to communicate with the child’s parents, should they waive their right to trial. As such, the parents must demonstrate an understanding of the fact that they will be disallowed from communicating with witnesses of the alleged crime, bringing their own witnesses to court, and testifying.

Are Juvenile Records Sealed?

A San Diego Criminal Lawyer, as well as the laws set established by the State of California, must work to ensure that your minor child’s records are kept confidential and sealed. The laws are so strict, that information regarding your child’s case cannot be shared over the phone, through fax, or email unless the requesting parties are identified properly and are legally allowed to see them.

Juvenile Defense FAQs

What is juvenile defense, and why is it important? Juvenile defense involves representing individuals under the age of 18 who are accused of committing a crime. It is crucial because the juvenile justice system aims to rehabilitate rather than punish, recognizing that young individuals may be more susceptible to change and guidance.

 How does the juvenile justice system differ from the adult system? The juvenile justice system focuses on rehabilitation rather than punishment. It often involves alternative sentencing options, such as counseling, community service, or probation, to help juveniles reintegrate into society successfully. Additionally, juvenile records are typically sealed or expunged to give young individuals a fresh start.

What types of cases does a juvenile defense attorney handle? A juvenile defense attorney handles a range of cases, including but not limited to theft, vandalism, drug offenses, underage drinking, assault, and more. The goal is to ensure that the rights of the juvenile are protected throughout the legal process.

Can a juvenile be tried as an adult? In some cases, depending on the severity of the offense, a juvenile may be tried as an adult. However, the legal system prioritizes keeping juveniles within the juvenile justice system whenever possible, taking into account the principles of rehabilitation and age-appropriate consequences.

What rights does a juvenile have during the legal process? Juveniles have similar rights to adults, including the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney, and the right to a fair trial. It is crucial for juveniles and their families to understand and assert these rights to ensure a fair and just legal process.

How can a juvenile defense attorney help my child's case? A juvenile defense attorney specializes in navigating the complexities of the juvenile justice system. They can negotiate with prosecutors, explore alternative sentencing options, challenge evidence, and advocate for the best possible outcome for your child, whether through dismissal, reduction of charges, or rehabilitation-focused sentencing.

How long does the juvenile legal process take? The duration of the legal process varies based on the complexity of the case, court schedules, and other factors. Juvenile cases often move more quickly than adult cases, but it is essential to have a skilled juvenile defense attorney who can guide you through each step of the process.

Can parents be held responsible for their child's actions? While parents may face civil liability for their child's actions in some cases, the focus of the juvenile justice system is on the rehabilitation of the juvenile. Criminal charges against parents are relatively rare, and legal representation can help address any potential issues.

How do I choose the right juvenile defense attorney for my child? When selecting a juvenile defense attorney, consider their experience in juvenile law, their success rate, and their commitment to understanding the unique needs of young clients. Personal rapport and effective communication are also crucial for a positive attorney-client relationship during this challenging time.

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