Law Offices of Johnson & Johnson

Juvenile Delinquency: After the court hearing

Juvenile PlacementThe juvenile court considers the recommendations of the probation department staff when deciding whether or not to make the child a ward of the court and, ultimately, determines the appropriate placement and treatment for the juvenile. Placement decisions are based on such factors as the juvenile’s offense, prior record (if any), the ‘sophistication’ of the crime, and the county’s capacity to provide treatment. The reality is, all of the juvenile facilities in California are overcrowded, and generally, only children who have committed more serious crimes are remanded to the system.

If a petition is sustained, a judge declares the juvenile a ward of the court almost two-thirds of the time. Most wards are placed under the supervision of the county probation department. These youths are typically placed in a county facility for treatment (such as juvenile hall or ranch) or supervised probation at home. If the court finds that the parents cannot adequately supervise the child, a judge may even place him/her into foster care or a group home.

If your child is placed into the juvenile justice system, one of several possible outcomes are:

Informal probation

For juveniles who have committed a minor offense, Probation officers have a great deal of flexibility and can place a juvenile on informal probation if the officer decides the juvenile is under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court or is likely to be under its jurisdiction in the future. Instead of filing a “600” petition with the court, these juveniles are often diverted into substance abuse, mental health, crisis shelters, or other services.

Status offender

Juveniles who have committed offenses unique to a juveniles under the age of 18 such as truancy, curfew violations, or general incorrigibility can be also placed on formal probation but cannot be detained or incarcerated with criminal offenders. In these cases, the probation officer files a “601” petition, and also recommends diversion into services or formal (or informal) supervision at home.

Criminal offenders

When a child under the age of 18 commits either a misdemeanor or felony, a “602” petition may be filed by the probation department asking the court for jurisdiction. Similar to lesser offenses, the probation officer has discretion to either file a petition, or place the juvenile on formal probation, detain the child before adjudication in a juvenile hall, and/or recommend incarceration after adjudication in a county or state facility.

Remand to Superior Court

When a juvenile commits a violent crime or serious offense and the probation officer or district attorney decides the offender is not fit to be tried in juvenile court, the case can be remanded to Superior Court to be tried as an adult. If found guilty, the juvenile can be sentenced to a California Youth Authority facility until age 21, then transferred to state prison. Fortunately, cases like this are rare in California.

It is important to the welfare of your child that he or she have experienced legal representation in juvenile court.

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