Select Juvenile Crime Results
- Long Beach, Child Abuse by 16 Year Old Mom, Probation
- Redondo Beach, Robbery Using Knife, Home on Probation
- Hermosa Beach, Assault with a Deadly Weapon, DEJ, Dismissal
- Venice, Underage Possession of Alcohol, Dismissed at Trial
- Redondo Beach, Assault with a Deadly Weapon (Gun), DEJ
- Rolling Hills Estates, Selling Pot at School, Probation
- Torrance, Underage Possession of Alcohol, Vandalism, PC 654
- Redondo Beach, Two Strike Offense, Plea to No Strikes, HOP
- Riverside, Shoplifting at Three Stores, WIC 654.1 Program
- Compton, 12 Year Old Fights, Formal Diversion, Dismissal
- Rancho Palos Verdes, Criminal Threats (Bombs), Probation
- Los Angeles, Sealing & Destroying Lengthy Criminal Record
- Torrance, Client, 16, Joyrides Mom’s Car, Crash, Infraction
- Palos Verdes Estates, Client, 16, Throws Food at Bicyclist, Defense Verdict
- Lomita, 15 Year Old Helps Graffiti School Wall, JOIN Program
- Long Beach, Client 17, Identity Theft at Bank, Diversion
- Carson Juvenile Case, Two Felonies, Settled for Misdemeanor
- Rancho Dominguez, Exhibition of Speed (VC 23109), Dismissal
- Long Beach, Minor in Possession of Alcohol, Case Dismissed
As the above case summaries suggest, the juvenile court system makes rehabilitation and public safety its biggest goal, as compared to the adult system where punishment and deterrence is emphasized more. When there is a very serious juvenile offense involved, however, the youth can be “remanded” to the adult court system. This is quite rare, however, in our experience.
Towards rehabilitating the youth, the prosecutors and courts support programs that allow the juvenile offender to continue with school, where the probation department or another designated program monitors the youth’s grades, truancy, tardiness, behavior at home and assigns the youth community service, or when fitting, a substance abuse program or psychological counselling.
One of the most common programs is the Welfare & Institutions Code § 654.1 program that is considered pre-filing diversion. This means that before a petition (in adult court this is a complaint, or more commonly called “a case”) is filed, the juvenile and his parents will meet with a probation officer to first determine if the youth would benefit from such a program. Such youths are most commonly, but not necessarily, first-time offenders facing minor offenses.
Minor offenses commonly include shoplifting in amounts less than $200, vandalism where the damage costs less than $400 to repair, possession of alcohol, public intoxication, trespassing and public urination. These are offenses that would most likely be filed as misdemeanors in adult court, but this common characteristic is not how the 654.1 program makes its decision to accept or reject such a case.
Minor offenses usually do not include domestic violence (including elder abuse), kidnapping, sex offenses, DUI, assault and battery (although we have had one such case deferred to the 654.1 program), narcotics offenses or any type of serious violence.
Juvenile offenders are most often released back home to supervision of their parents or guardians, although a small percentage are relocated to foster care, fire camp or, in the most serious cases, the California Youth Authority (prison for juveniles, where they may stay until up to age 24).
If a parent or grandparent is reading this short “post script” of the above juvenile results and he or she has some experience with the adult criminal justice system, there are a few distinctions worth noting. In juvenile court, there is no such thing as a jury trial. The judge is the finder or fact and the one who sentences the juvenile. This means the family’s attendance at court to show support of the juveniles is important to show the judge that the youth has a “safety net” and supervision at home by someone who cares. We at Greg Hill & Associates strongly encourage both parents, if possible and available, to attend court and to dress well.
Juvenile cases also last a long time. In adult court, someone can enter a plea at the arraignment (not always a good idea) and be ordered to take some classes and/or pay some fines. The individual may never see the judge again. Everything can be filed or handled thereafter in a clerk’s office. In juvenile court, the youth and both his parents (if available) will need to go back to court many times, or to a probation officer many times for up to eighteen months. It is tiring and, each time, the judge or probation officer will want updated school grades or status reports from whatever treatment program and/or community service the youth was ordered to attend. This often can be a big surprise to parents or guardians of the juvenile.
While this is tiring and may seem needless, it is worth it, especially if the juvenile completes the programs assigned. When this happens, generally, the judge can then order all police records and court records of the juvenile’s case sealed and destroyed. There are exceptions to this (more serious offenses classified under Welfare & Institutions Code § 707(b)), which are not eligible for sealing and destruction until the juvenile reaches age 38.