juvenile criminal defenseIf you or your child has been accused of a crime, you are likely concerned about the consequences. After all, a young person’s mistakes may present challenges to their future. It is therefore important to retain legal counsel that understands the law as it applies to minors. As a criminal defense lawyer, Stockton and Fresno based attorney Gurjit Srai is committed to providing the best possible results for minors charged with criminal offenses.

Age of Majority

In California, laws pertaining to juvenile crimes involve those who have not reached adulthood. You may hear this referred to as majority age, which merely means the individual has not celebrated his or her eighteenth birthday. In some incidences, the crime may be deemed so heinous that the courts treat the child as an adult. Whatever the circumstances, Attorney Srai is there as a skilled and dedicated advocate for the minor offender.

Juvenile Criminal Offenses

Not every juvenile criminal offense is treated the same way under the California penal code. In brief, this is a summation of the level of criminal charges brought against minors:

  • Status offenses: Certain juvenile crimes would not have been against the law if an adult performed the same action. For example, it is legal for someone over the age of twenty-one to purchase alcohol or imbibe it. However, since the law prohibits those under twenty-one from alcohol consumption, minors can be arrested for this charge. Some other juvenile crimes that fall under this category include the following, but are not necessarily limited to them:

        – Purchase or use of cigarettes

        – Truancy

        – Failure to adhere to curfew laws

        – Running away from home

In order to be considered a status offense, the assumption is that charges would not have been brought if the minor was of majority age. The premise is that it is the court’s responsibility to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those who have not reached adulthood. Attorney Srai has received successful results working with young people charged under this section of the penal code.

  • Misdemeanor Charges : A majority of the charges filed against underaged defendants are for misdemeanor offenses.

  Here are some examples of crimes that fall under this category:

– Shoplifting

– Simple assault

– Petty theft

– Possession of marijuana in small quantities

– Disorderly Conduct

– Vandalism

– Graffiti

  • Felony charges: Felony cases are the most serious charges brought against a minor. In some cases, the court may determine that the matter should be heard in adult court.

  Here are some crimes that represent juvenile felony offenses:

– Murder

– Rape

– Possession and/or Distribution of Controlled Dangerous Substances

– Assault and Battery

– Burglary

– Weapons Charges

What Happens When a Child is Arrested?

Unfortunately, there are too many horror stories of individuals who fail to cooperate with law enforcement. As a law firm that deals with juvenile criminal defendants, we have some strong advice for accused minors and their parents. Even if you are not guilty of the crime, do not resist arrest. Although it may seem unfair, the police have the upper hand in such cases. Attorney Srai can help you sort out the details as they present themselves. In the meantime, be aware of the following:

– Law enforcement has an obligation to report the arrest to the minor’s parent or guardian

– The police will make a record of the charges

– Minor charges may allow for the release of juveniles to their parents

– Other detained juvenile offenders must be brought before a   Superior Court judge within 48 hours of the arrest. However, if the charge is of felony nature, this procedure may be extended to 72 hours.

– In cases of a more serious nature, the matter may be immediately remanded to adult court.

The Juvenile Prosecution Process

There is a great emphasis on rehabilitation for juvenile offenders. Attorney Srai is committed to obtaining assistance for minors charged with crimes. Our office works to determine if there are psychological issues that may have contributed to the offense. We encourage our clients to work towards fixing their problems in order that they avoid becoming repeat offenders.

There are no juries within the California juvenile court system. In addition, those initially remanded to jail are not able to post bond prior to trial. Judges have been known to sentence juvenile offenders to drug or alcohol treatment, as well as other rehabilitative treatment. This does not mean that minors convicted of crimes are exempt from fines or other penalties. In addition to fines and referrals, these are some alternatives used by the judiciary as a means of rehabilitation:

– Community Service

– Foster care placement

– Probation/Parole

– Referral to Juvenile Hall

– Remand to home under court supervision

Juvenile Hall

County probation departments play an important role in the process of juvenile offenders. They are the agency in charge of juvenile hall. Those remanded to juvenile hall are not necessarily under the age of eighteen. The age limit of confinement to juvenile hall is twenty-five. Education is an important component of juvenile hall. This includes both an emphasis on academics, as well as programs for mental health issues and substance abuse. Those who are eligible may study for their GED while in juvenile hall. There are juvenile halls in both Stockton and Fresno counties.

Seek Legal Advice

If you or your child has been charged with a criminal offense in Stockton or Fresno counties, Attorney Gurjit Srai is available to assist you. It is important to secure legal advice from counsel who is familiar with the system and cares about his clients. Juvenile records can be sealed. With proper representation, there is a chance to break the cycle and approach adulthood without the stigma attached to a criminal record.

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