San Jose Juvenile Crimes Lawyer
Any crime that can be charged in adult court can also be charged in Juvenile Court, if the suspect is under 18 years and is competent to know right from wrong.
This means that sometimes minors under the age of 12 years of age will not be charged with criminal conduct, if that conduct is relatively minor.
When a juvenile is suspected of committing a crime, the case generally begins with a police report. If the crime occurs at school, there may also be school suspension or even expulsion, if certain procedural elements are met. Sometimes, if the minor is presently on juvenile probation, he or she will be taken to the juvenile detention center. Other times, the parents are called and the minor is simply cited, with a court proceeding that could occur months in the future. If the minor is taken into custody, there is a mandatory detention hearing the following business day. The purpose for that hearing is to determine if the safety of the community requires that the minor stay in Juvenile Hall pending the outcome of his/her case. If the juvenile offense is very serious, the prosecutor can file the matter in adult court if the minor is over age 16. If the matter is very serious, but it is still filed initially in Juvenile Court, the prosecutor can allege that the minor is not “fit” for Juvenile Services. A hearing would then be held to determine if the minor should be tried as an adult or a minor.
There are many differences between the adult and juvenile system. Generally, a juvenile crime will move along more quickly than an adult case will. The purpose of Juvenile Court is primarily rehabilitation, not punishment. This means that unless the charges are very serious, a juvenile may be directed to a program or sent home to his parents when an adult committing the same crime will face incarceration. Juvenile cases are confidential, unless the offense is serious enough to be public by statute. When a minor finishes Juvenile probation and becomes an adult, their record is not public and can be actually sealed. Juveniles do not have the right to bail, or to a jury trial as adults do. Juveniles do have a right to a court trial, the right to obtain witness statements as well as all reports from the police or Probation Department If a minor admits or is found to have committed an offense, it is not called a criminal conviction, but a juvenile adjudication.
Juveniles are not generally experienced in making the sort of decisions that they face in Juvenile Court. For all court matters, they need the guidance of counsel but often do not understand their rights. When an attorney gets involved with a juvenile matter at an early stage, the attorney can often direct the minor or assist the parents as to where to obtain counseling or treatment that the probation department and the district attorney will look favorably upon when the matter finally finds its way into court. Even when the matter is in court, an attorney can work with the minor, and the offense or prescribed punishment may change, based upon apparent rehabilitation of the minor.
I have been able to work with the San Jose Probation Department and the family of the minor at an early stage, often resulting in different charging decisions by the prosecutor or different recommendations by probation. When I have been retained after a matter has been filed, I have recommended areas where proper investigation or counseling result in a better outcome. At times where mental health problems are at the root of some misconduct, I have consulted the appropriate mental health professionals respected and known to the court, again for a better outcome for the minor.
Get an Experienced San Jose Juvenile Crimes Lawyer
For more information on San Jose Juvenile Court please contact Attorney Maureen Baldwin today.