Criminal offenses are not always committed by adult offenders. Juvenile crime is a persistent problem throughout the United States. However, the justice system recognizes that children, even ones who commit crimes, should not be treated in the same manner as adult offenders. Most juveniles will be tried in a separate court system. The juvenile court system focuses more on rehabilitation than punishment and seeks to prevent juvenile offenders from repeating their criminal behavior as they become adults.
While the juvenile justice system is separate from the adult system, it can be very intimidating to deal with. Juveniles are often detained in juvenile detention centers and face serious consequences. When a juvenile has committed a serious violent crime, they may be tried as an adult. It can be incredibly challenging to navigate the juvenile justice system on your own. Our Long Beach juvenile defense lawyers can help.
If your child has been charged as a juvenile offender, our team of Long Beach juvenile defense attorneys can fight for them in court. We have the skills and experience necessary to challenge the accusations against your child and any unfair penalties. Schedule a free, confidential legal consultation with our staff by calling (909) 861-8075.
How Juvenile Offenders are Prosecuted in Long Beach
Juvenile offenders are prosecuted under a separate system from adults. In fact, the juvenile system is not part of the criminal system at all. Juvenile hearings and proceedings are considered civil in nature and involve separate judges and court officials. Even the language surrounding juvenile cases is different than the adult criminal system. For example, juvenile offenders are not found guilty or not guilty. Instead, they are “adjudicated.”
The juvenile justice system focuses more on rehabilitation and less on punishment. While the consequences involved in the juvenile system are not pleasant and may be perceived as a punishment, the overall goal is to rehabilitate the juvenile. The courts want to stop criminal behavior from continuing into adulthood.
Unfortunately, not every juvenile will be tried in the juvenile justice system. Cases involving more serious, violent offenses may be tried in the adult system. Juveniles tried in the adult system will not be treated differently because of their young age. They will face adult charges and adult punishments.
If your child is facing criminal charges, call our Long Beach juvenile defense lawyers immediately. We can fight to keep your child’s case in the juvenile justice system where they can get treatment rather than punishments.
Penalties for Juvenile Offenses in Long Beach
The penalties for juvenile offenders are not the same as those for adults. For juveniles, penalties are less punitive and focus on rehabilitating the juvenile. However, that does not mean that the consequences will not be unpleasant. Many juveniles find it difficult and frustrating to complete the conditions of their final disposition.
Penalties as part of a final sentence for a juvenile who is adjudicated delinquent can include, but are not limited to:
- Restitution to victims
- Community service
- Educational classes
- Treatment programs
- Probation and parole conditions
- Commitment to a juvenile detention center
- Placement in foster homes
The exact consequences your child might face will vary depending on their case and their rehabilitative needs. If your child is adjudicated delinquent, which is like being found guilty, we will fight for the fairest and most appropriate penalties. Contact our Long Beach juvenile defense attorneys for help.
Expunging or Sealing a Juvenile Record in Long Beach
Juvenile offenders may be able to have their records expunged or sealed. When a record is sealed, it is treated as if it did not happen, like deleting any record of the offense. While the record will technically still exist, only certain government agencies and officials may access it under specific circumstances. A juvenile record that is sealed would not be available to people like potential employers or landlords doing background checks. Sealing your child’s records will allow them to start their adult lives with a clean slate.
In some cases, courts will automatically seal records. This is often in cases where a juvenile committed a less serious, nonviolent offense. If your child’s offense is not listed under the California Welfare and Institutions Code § 707(b), they might be eligible for automatic expungement or sealing of their records. In such cases, you do not have to ask the court to seal the records. They do it automatically upon completion of all final penalties.
In other cases, usually involving more serious or violent felonies, specific conditions must be met to be eligible for expungement. Also, it is not guaranteed that your child’s records will be sealed even if they meet the necessary criteria. These criteria include:
- Your child must be at least 18 years old when requesting that their juvenile records be sealed.
- Five years must have elapsed since your child’s case closed, their last contact with probation, and a judge had deemed them rehabilitated.
- You must submit a petition to the court requesting the records be sealed.
Our Long Beach juvenile defense attorneys can help you submit a request to have your child’s juvenile records sealed.
When a Juvenile Can Be Charged as an Adult in Long Beach
Not every child is tried as a juvenile. Some are transferred to the adult criminal justice system. Generally, juveniles of a certain age who committed serious violent crimes or felonies can be transferred to adult court. However, this is not a simple task and involves a transfer hearing to determine if transfer to the adult system is warranted.
To be transferred:
The juvenile must be 14 or older when they committed a § 707(b) offense.
The juvenile must be 16 or older at the time of any felony offense.
The prosecutor must make the motion to transfer to adult court.
Nonviolent, minor offenses that would be misdemeanors if committed by an adult are unlikely to be transferred to adult court. Also, courts are reluctant to transfer juveniles they believe may still benefit from the juvenile justice system. Juveniles who are thought to be beyond rehabilitation are more likely to be transferred. Call our Long Beach juvenile defense attorney for help with your child’s case.
Call Our Long Beach Juvenile Defense Lawyers
If your child has been charged with a criminal offense and is facing consequences from the juvenile justice system, call our offices for help. Our experienced Long Beach juvenile defense lawyers will guide you and your child through every step of the legal process. Call (909) 861-8075 to arrange a free, confidential legal consultation.