Possible Outcomes in Juvenile Delinquency Cases
Experienced Attorneys Serving Walnut Creek
The California juvenile justice system is concerned with rehabilitating minors who have violated the law. As such, judges have the discretion to sentence the child to various sanctions that align with that goal. The possible outcomes of a juvenile delinquency case depend on several factors, including the severity of the offense and the child's criminal history. Some sanctions may include confinement, while others may involve completing community service. During the disposition hearing, the child and their lawyer can present evidence to seek a more lenient penalty. Thus, if your child has been accused of an offense, it's essential to retain the services of an attorney who understands the juvenile justice system and knows how to work toward obtaining the best possible result.
At The Law Offices of Johnson & Johnson, our lawyers are well-versed in the processes involved in resolving juvenile criminal cases. We will use our knowledge and skills to protect your child's rights and best interests. We will thoroughly prepare for your case by working closely with you, learning about your child, and reviewing the facts of the situation. From there, we will develop a compelling argument to present in front of the judge to seek a favorable outcome for your child.
The Juvenile Justice Process
As with an adult case, the juvenile justice process begins with an arrest. The child will be detained and "booked" and then released to their parents or remain in detention. Their case will then progress through a series of hearings.
If, during the jurisdiction hearing, the judge decides that the evidence proves the allegations are true, the petition will be sustained. This is somewhat akin to the child being found guilty of the offense in adult court. However, because the juvenile justice system's focus differs from that of the adult system, the terminology is different.
If the petition is sustained, the child will be scheduled for a jurisdiction hearing. During this proceeding, the judge will determine what sanctions to impose upon the child. Again, the juvenile court's focus is to provide the necessary care and treatment to prevent the child from engaging in further criminal or delinquent conduct.
When deciding on a disposition, the judge will consider many factors, including:
- The child's personal history;
- The child's criminal history;
- The victim's statement;
- The safety of the community;
- The injury the victim suffered; and
- The best interests of the minor
"Best interests" does not necessarily mean the outcome will be positive. Rather, it is concerned with methods that will help set the child on the right path.
As mentioned earlier, the child and their attorney can present their case as to why the judge should be more lenient when determining what sanctions to impose.
Sanctions the Court May Impose
Depending on the evidence presented at the disposition hearing, the judge may decide to subject the minor to one or more types of sanctions.
The possible outcomes of a juvenile delinquency case include, but are not limited to:
- Dismiss the case: This is done if the judge determines that the minor does not need to be rehabilitated.
- Place the minor on informal probation: Informal probation can last up to 6 months.
Make the minor a ward of the court: If this happens, the court will be charged with making decisions on behalf
of the child. When the minor is a ward of the court, the judge may:
- Place the child on formal probation that's supervised at home – the child must abide by specific conditions
- Remove the child from their home and place them with a family member or in foster care
- Place the child in a juvenile detention center
- Send the child to the Division of Juvenile Justice
The possible outcomes of the case don't end with the judge ordering a specific disposition. Other matters may arise after the case resolves. For instance, the minor and their attorney can appeal the decision if they feel a legal error resulted in the petition being sustained. Also, the minor may seek to have their record sealed if they meet certain conditions.
Here to Guide You and Your Child Every Step of the Way
The juvenile justice system is complex, and the dispositions enumerated above are brief overviews of what could happen in your child’s case. Our Walnut Creek attorneys can discuss in detail the possible outcomes and help you understand your legal options.
If you have additional questions and need sound counsel from a team who knows how to effectively handle juvenile cases, contact The Law Offices of Johnson & Johnson at (925) 900-5330. We provide effective guidance throughout the Bay Area.