Juvenile Crime

Child Under 18 Charged With a Crime?

Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyer Helps Rehabilitate and Protect Minors

You can face life altering consequences if you or someone you know is convicted of a juvenile crime. Even a misdemeanor charge can easily become a felony, limiting your freedom in the future. For example, you can become ineligible to vote and/or receive financial aid. In addition, you can lose out on government assistance programs like food share and housing assistance. Unfortunately, without a juvenile criminal defense lawyer to represent minors, serious convictions are not uncommon. For example, a child can easily be charged as an adult as most charges are based on prior history.

A good criminal defense attorney who handles juvenile crime understands that juvenile law exists — in large part — as a way to provide rehabilitation to minors. After all, in California, juvenile court is considered a civil court. This means that, while criminal cases are heard, juvenile proceedings are typically informal. Furthermore, a juvenile does not enter a “guilty” or “not guilty” plea — instead they “admit” or “deny” the offense. Juvenile lawyers will use their experience and resources to rehabilitate minors and protect your best interests.

What Are Common Juvenile Crimes in California?

Ultimately, juvenile crimes are similar to adult offenses. However, there are some key differences that can potentially have a life altering impact. For example, even misdemeanor crimes can result in a felony conviction. A child could be tried as an adult or charges could become a felony depending on his or her prior history. In addition, because of the “three strikes rule” from Proposition 57, you could face substantial jail time. The best way to identify the details of your charges is to contact a juvenile defense lawyer.

Common juvenile crimes usually involve:

  • Theft: Unfortunately, sometimes teens try to feel a thrill by taking something that is not theirs — either because they cannot afford the item or simply because they want to. As a result, a juvenile who commits theft can be charged with petty theft or grand theft. If he or she steals over $950 worth of property, they face misdemeanor charges. Anything above that amount could result in the minor facing felony charges, especially if the minor has prior convictions for theft.
  • Sexting: Minors sending nude photos of themselves can lead to a serious allegation. In some cases, these images are considered child pornography. If convicted, a minor could face felony charges and be forced to register as a sex offender.
  • Drug Crimes: Usually, juvenile drug offenses involve marijuana. While California has passed laws legalizing marijuana, it is illegal for minors to use cannabis. In addition, drug crimes involving cocaine, heroin, OxyContin, Oxycodone and Adderall abuse are not uncommon.
  • Juvenile Drinking: California — as well as federal — law states that it is illegal for anyone under 21 to drink alcohol and has a zero tolerance policy for minors under the influence. If you are charged with underage drinking, contact an Alameda criminal defense lawyer.

What Are the Differences Between Adult and Juvenile Court?

An experienced and reliable juvenile criminal defense lawyer knows how to use the court system to your advantage and protects your rights. For example, we have seen many juvenile charges be cleared or otherwise resolved with informal probation or deferred entry of judgment (DEJ). Informal probation places minors in probation for a designated time before admitting to any wrongdoing. Alternatively, juveniles can avoid time in detention by meeting with a probation officer, paying fines and completing court ordered programs. There are significant differences you will want to know prior to your court appearance.

Overall, juvenile defendants share many of the constitutional protections offered to adults. However, there are two exclusions you should be aware of that can help you and your attorney prepare your defense:

  • Excluded Juvenile Rights: Since juvenile cases are decided by a judge, a minor does not have the right to a trial by jury. Depending on the case, juveniles do not have the right to drug rehabilitation treatment in lieu of confinement. In addition, a minor does not have the right to a preliminary hearing in felony cases. Finally, minors do not have the right to be released or post bail pending the outcome of their case.
  • Protected Juvenile Rights: Fortunately, juveniles do have the right to seek competent defense counsel from a defense attorney. Additionally, a minor has the right to be protected against self-incrimination. Just like other trial proceedings, a minor has the right to cross examine witnesses and scrutinize evidence . Finally, a minor has the right to be properly notified of their charges.

Juvenile Arrest? Contact Us Now For a Free Consultation

Is your child facing serious allegations which could result in jail time? Have questions about your rights and how to build a defense? Finding yourself in a tough situation, trying to keep your family together? Regrettably, juvenile crimes can result in severe and life altering consequences. In some cases, a teenager can be tried as an adult. As a result, a minor may be charged with a felony —  even if it is his or her first allegation. Without a juvenile criminal defense lawyer, you or your child face a potentially difficult future.

At Garcia, Schnayerson & Thompson, we believe in protecting the rights of minors accused of crimes. With our dedicated team of professionals, we can scrutinize evidence, cross examine witnesses and analyze reports. If necessary, we can negotiate with prosecutors to attain a less severe conviction. No matter the type of juvenile crime or state of the allegations, our juvenile criminal defense lawyer can help. Contact Garcia, Schnayerson & Thompson today or call us at 510-782-7580. We offer free consultations — where we can review your charges at no cost —  and work on a contingency fee basis. Schedule your consultation today to see how we can help build your defense.