If your child has been charged with a criminal offense, he or she may be tried in either adult court or juvenile court, depending on various factors. There are many differences between these two courts. The most common differences that you should know when dealing with a juvenile case in California are discussed below.
The Important Differences Between Juvenile Court and Adult Court
Different terminology: In adult court, your child is referred to as a “minor,” not a “defendant.” The document that lists the charges against your child is called a “petition,” not a “complaint.” What is known as a “sentence hearing” in adult court is referred to as a “disposition hearing” in juvenile court.
Juvenile court does not have jury trials: While in adult court criminal defendants have the right to a trial by their peers (known as a jury trial), in juvenile court the minor does not have such a right. If a minor’s case is taken to trial in juvenile court (known as an “adjudication”), the case is heard by a judge or bench officer.
Juvenile court does not give minors the right bail: You cannot post bail to get your child out of juvenile court. The court has the discretion as to whether or not your child should be released from custody.
The minor’s parents or guardians are questioned by the court: In juvenile courts, it is common practice for the judge or bench officer to question you, as your minor child’s parent or guardian, about your child’s behavior. Your response could impact the judge’s decision in how your child’s case should be handled.
Juvenile court hearings are not public: Juvenile court proceedings are closed to the public, with the exception of certain proceedings that include serious or violent offenses. This means that no one from the general public will be permitted to attend your child’s hearing in juvenile court.
Probationary sentences: Juvenile court judges have limited amount of options when hearing your child’s case.
Your criminal defense attorney will be able to provide you and your child with more information about your child’s hearings. The more knowledge that you have and the more informed that you are, the better it may be in handling the matter and helping your attorney defend the criminal charges your child is facing.
Call an Experienced Fresno Criminal Defense Attorney
If your child or a young individual that you care about has been arrested for a crime, it is imperative that you immediately hire an experienced criminal defense attorney to help protect your legal rights and ensure that you have the best defense possible to avoid a criminal conviction.