The arrest of a son or daughter is one of any parent’s worst nightmares. California’s juvenile justice system is very different from its adult justice system, and most people are not familiar with it. Under these circumstances, your need for an experienced San Diego juvenile lawyer to defend your child is critical. 

Differences Between the Juvenile Justice System and the Adult Justice System in California

Several aspects of California’s juvenile justice system are quite different from the adult justice system:  

  • – The California juvenile justice system focuses on rehabilitation rather than punishment;
  • – Juvenile defendants do not have a right to a jury trial;
  • – Juvenile defendants do not have access to bail;
  • – At a detention hearing held within 48 hours of arrest, the court might release the juvenile to their parents;
  • – A defendant who is at least 14 years old could be charged as an adult for a serious crime; and
  • – It is easier to seal a juvenile’s criminal record than to seal an adult’s record, however, sealing is not automatic.

Our knowledgeable San Diego juvenile lawyers will do everything legally possible to avoid negative outcomes for your child and your family. 

Informal Resolution

California can resolve a juvenile case in one of two ways一formally or informally.

If the state chooses to resolve the matter informally, your child will appear before a juvenile probation officer or a juvenile judge. You should retain a San Diego juvenile defense lawyer to accompany your child to the hearing.

The resolution of the case could include:

  • – A lecture;
  • – Mandatory counseling;
  • – Mandatory community service;
  • – Payment of restitution; and
  • – Probation.

Any of the foregoing outcomes are preferable to a formal adjudication of guilt in juvenile court. 

Formal Resolution

In more serious cases, or in cases where your child has prior charges or convictions, the juvenile court might seek a more formal resolution. The procedure works like this:

  • – The juvenile court will decide whether to resolve the case or schedule a “fitness hearing” to determine whether your child should be tried as an adult;
  • – If your child is tried as a juvenile (the most common scenario), their lawyer will seek a favorable plea agreement that helps resolve the case without a trial;
  • – If a favorable plea agreement cannot be worked out with the prosecutor, the court may schedule a juvenile trial;
  • – At the trial, the court can convict or acquit your child; and
  • – If the court convicts your child, the judge will determine the sentence.

In sentencing, the judge can choose from among the following options:

  • – Periodic monitoring (meaning your child will live at home);
  • – Placing your child with a relative, in foster care, in a group home, or on a psychiatric facility; or
  • – Placing your child in the juvenile division of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).

The judge has broad discretion regarding which of these remedies to impose.

Contact San Diego Juvenile Lawyer Mark Greany

When the future of your son or daughter hangs in the balance due to criminal charges, you need to act quickly. Proceeding without a San Diego juvenile defense attorney is simply not a viable option.

Mark Greany has been practicing law for over a quarter of a century, and he has successfully resolved many juvenile cases. Contact the Law Office of Mark Greany by telephone at (858) 531-6387 or by filling out our online contact form.