Sacramento Juvenile Crime Attorney
The juvenile justice system is very different than the adult justice system, but our Sacramento lawyers are astute in both justice systems. The system is mainly governed by the Welfare and Institutions Code and the Penal Code. The accused is not a defendant but instead the term "minor" is used. The charging document is not a complaint or information but rather a "petition." Minors do not plead guilty, no contest, or not guilty, but instead they "admit" or "deny." If the matter is not resolved at an early settlement conference, it will be set for a "jurisdictional hearing," the term used for a trial. If the minor is found to have committed the offense charged in the petition, the court, not a jury, will "sustain" the petition after which it will generally hold a "dispositional hearing," the term used for a sentencing hearing.
Because the juvenile criminal justice system has rehabilitation as one of its main goals, when it comes to the "disposition," judges will take into account what is best for the minor. Dispositions can vary from a few hours of community service all the way to a commitment to the Division of Juvenile Justice (formerly known as the California Youth Authority), the equivalent of prison in the adult system.
While generally minors accused of crimes have many of the same rights afforded to adults, there are several important rights that minors do not enjoy:
- Bail (A juvenile arrest warrant in California is always considered a "No Bail" warrant)
- Proposition 36 drug treatment program in exchange for the case being dismissed. (Prop 36)
- Preliminary hearing
- Jury Trial (All juvenile court matters proceed before a judge alone)
On the other hand, juvenile court allows for many advantages over its adult counterpart, which our Sacramento attorneys will try and use to your benefit. Some of the juvenile court advantages are:
- Broader range of options when it comes to the disposition (sentencing)
- Greater emphasis on rehabilitation including education and job training
- Limited jurisdiction up to age 21 or 25 depending on the crime, meaning a minor’s sentence cannot be extended past the minor’s 21st or 25th birthday.
- Minors with petty offenses may be allowed to complete informal probation without having to admit any charges.
At the Law Offices of Bonilla & Cintean, LLP. we represent minors accused in juvenile court. Our Sacramento lawyers have experience working in the juvenile court setting both as former prosecutors and as defense attorneys. If your child was arrested, detained, or even questioned by law enforcement, call us for a free consultation.