Defending Juveniles

The juvenile courts in California have exclusive original jurisdiction over cases involving a delinquent minor children (under the age of 18 years old) accused of committing an act that would be a crime if committed by an adult (section 602 of the Welfare and Institutions Code).

The juvenile delinquency courts in California focused on protecting juveniles and protecting the community if the child poses a threat to persons or property. The goal of juvenile court is to rehabilitate the minor child sometimes through the use of so-called “therapeutic” detention.

If your child has been accused of a crime, then hire an experienced criminal defense attorney at the earliest stage of the case. If the juvenile is accused of a crime, the child should speak to an attorney before making any statement about the case. The child has the right to remain silent and to have the assistance of counsel at every stage of the case.

After the criminal investigation begins, the police might prepare and send an application for a petition, along with the arrest report to District Attorney. After the District Attorney reviews the allegation, the prosecutor will decide whether to file charges and what charges should be filed. If charges are filed in juvenile court, then the charging document is called a petition.

For the most serious charges against a child who is 14 years old or older, the prosecutor at the District Attorney’s Office might ask the judge to allow the case to be tried in adult court. In those cases, the court will decide whether the case should be transferred to adult court or remain in juvenile court.

If you retain an attorney at the earliest stages of the case, the attorney might be able to present favorable evidence to convince the law enforcement officer not to send an application for a petition to the prosecutor or to convince the District Attorney not to file the petition or any criminal charge.

Attorney for Juvenile Court in Ventura County, CA

If your child is involved in the Juvenile Delinquency System in Ventura County, then contact an experienced juvenile defense attorney at Jay Leiderman Law. We are based in Ventura and also work with clients in Oxnard, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Camarillo, Fillmore, Moorpark, Ojai, Port Hueneme, and Santa Paula.

Jay Leiderman is a criminal defense attorney experienced in representing young people in juvenile delinquency court. His goal is helping the youth achieve the most favorable outcome in the case while protecting their rights at every stage of the proceeding.

An attorney can help the child when the investigation begins, at the detention hearing to determine the child’s placement while the case is pending, and during all of the delinquency court appearance.

As a juvenile defense attorney, Jay Ledierman works with the parents to find out more about the incident, find favorable witnesses, and obtain the child’s medical or educational records, when needed. An attorney can also help to make sure your child is released to your custody and explain any requirements for electronic monitoring or home detention.

If your child has been accused of a crime, then your child needs an advocate who can aggressively fight their case. Jay Leiderman is experienced in protecting juveniles charged with a variety of criminal offenses including drug crimes, violent crimes, domestic violence, property crimes, or sexually motivated crimes (often against a younger child).

No matter the basis for the criminal accusation against the juvenile, Jay Leiderman can help.

Call (805) 654-0200 today for a free initial consultation.

Overview of Juvenile Law in California

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Juvenile Court in Oxnard in Ventura County, CA

The Juvenile Court for Ventura County is located at 4353 E. Vineyard Avenue, Oxnard, CA 93036. The Ventura County Juvenile Hall (sometimes called the Juvenile Facilities) is located next-door at 4333 E. Vineyard Avenue in Oxnard, CA 93036. In Ventura County, juvenile delinquency cases are heard in Courtrooms J3 and J4 at the juvenile courthouse in Oxnard, CA.

Detention hearings are often scheduled for 8:15 a.m. and other matters are set at 8:30 a.m. At the detention hearing, the court will decide whether the child should be released to the parents or detained at juvenile hall.

If a petition was filed against a child who is in custody at juvenile hall in Oxnard, CA, then the court will schedule a detention hearing soon after the petition is filed.

During the hearing, the Juvenile Court Judge will decide if your child should be released from custody based on the seriousness of the crime alleged. If released, your child could be released outright, be placed on home supervision or placed on electronic monitoring.

If the child fails to appear at any scheduled hearing, the juvenile court judge might issue a warrant for the child’s arrest (sometimes called a pick-up order). In some cases, the juvenile defense attorney can obtain permission from the court to reschedule a court date or waive the child’s appearance.

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Juvenile Probation Violations in Ventura County, CA

If the child is on probation, then the criminal defense attorney will also work with the Deputy Probation Officer to make sure the child stays in compliance with the requirements of probation so that probation can be completed successfully.

If the child has already violated the terms of probation, then a criminal defense attorney can represent the child in court to resolve the allegation.

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Diversion Programs for Juveniles in Ventura County

Many juvenile cases can be handled through a less formal diversion program. The diversion programs “divert” the child away from the court and into a voluntary program focused on accountability and rehabilitation. Diversion programs are common for allegations that do not warrant time in juvenile hall.

For many parents, the main goal is making sure that the incident remains confidential and does not have to be disclosed to any educational institution or employers in the future.

In some case, the court must deal the record after the child completes probation or the case is dismissed. In some cases, the court is not permitted to seal the record.

Under limited circumstances, the parent and/or child might be obligated to pay restitution fines to the court and additional restitution to the victim.

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Domestic Violence Allegations in Juvenile Court

When a child is accused of domestic violence, the consequences are serious even when the case is prosecuted in juvenile court in Oxnard, CA. Under California law, the term “domestic violence” is defined to include a pattern of abusive behaviors used to maintain control or assert power over a parent, sibling, or intimate partner.

Examples of domestic violence including hitting, pushing, slapping, punching, retraining, and choking. Sometimes allegations of domestic violence are made against a juvenile because of a fight with a parent or sibling. The family often does not appreciate how seriously the case will be prosecuted, even when the complaining witness wants the charge dropped and the prosecution terminate.

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Deferred Entry of Judgment in Juvenile Court

All of the terms used in juvenile court are different than the terms used in adult court. For instance, a juvenile is not convicted of a crime. Instead, the court will use the term “adjudicated” when the court has determined that the child committed the crime.

For many reasons, it is important to avoid the entry of an adjudication. If the case is not dismissed and the child is not eligible for a diversion program, then deferred entry of judgment might be a way to avoid an adjudication.

For a juvenile who is 14, 15, 16, or 17 years old and accused of a felony that is not serious or violent, an option for Deferred Entry of Judgment might be available. To be eligible for Deferred Entry of Judgment in California, the juvenile must not have ever had probation revoked or have been committed to the Department of Juvenile Justice.

In some cases, the juvenile defense attorney will negotiate with the prosecutor, known as the deputy district attorney, to obtain the most favorable outcome in the case.

While the prosecutor wants to hold the youth accountable for criminal behavior, the criminal defense attorney’s goal is to help the youth reach the best outcome. If the child is not guilty of the criminal behavior or if the prosecutor does not have sufficient evidence, then the best result is an outright dismissal on the merits.

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Electronic Monitoring of Juveniles

In some cases, the court might impose a condition of electronic monitoring while the case is pending. The electronic monitoring usually requires a GPS ankle bracelet while the child is on home detention.

At the first appearance in court, an experienced juvenile defense attorney might be able to convince the court that electronic monitoring is not necessary. If the condition was already imposed, the attorney might be able to file a motion asking the court to consider removing that requirement, when appropriate.

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Juvenile Records in California are Confidential

Juvenile cases are confidential and many of the proceedings are not open to the public. Likewise, the juvenile’s court record is confidential and can only be released to the child, their parent or legal guardian, the juvenile’s criminal defense attorney, other officers of the court, specific agencies, or by order of the Presiding Judge of the Juvenile Court.

In California, the law provides two different way for an individual to seal juvenile records related to an offense for which a petition was sustained. (Welf. & Inst. Code §§ 781, 786.)

First, if the juvenile was found to have successfully completed an informal program of supervision or probation, the juvenile court will dismiss the petition and order sealed all records. (Welf. & Inst. Code, § 786.) Some crimes are excluded from sealing unless the finding has been dismissed or reduced to a lesser included offenses not on the section 707(b) list found in the Welfare and Institutions Code for serious and violent felonies.

Second, even if the juvenile records are not eligible for automatic record sealing via Welfare and Institutions Code Section 786, the juvenile record might be sealed via Welfare and Institutions Code Section 781.

To seal the record under Section 781, a person must petition the court to seal records related to a non-707(b) offense if:

  • the person is at least 18 years old; or
  • it has been at least five years since the case was closed or the person’s last contact with probation; and
  • the court finds that the person has been rehabilitated.

(Welf. & Inst. Code, § 781, subd. (a)(1)(A).)

In order to seal records related to a 707(b) offense, the petitioner must either:

  • be 21 years of age and have completed supervision by the DJJ; or
  • be 18 years of age and have completed your probation supervision.

(Welf. & Inst. Code, § 781, subd. (a)(1)(D).)

California law absolutely prohibits sealing any record related to a Section 707(b) offense if:

  • the juvenile was committed after attaining the age of 14 year old; and
  • when the person is required to register as a sex offender pursuant to Penal Code Section 290.008.

(Welf. & Inst. Code, § 781, subd. (a)(1)(F).)

The only other way to seal a juvenile record can be found in Penal Code Section 851.7 which allows for a process of sealing of a juvenile misdemeanor arrest record.

Welfare and Institutions Code Section 793 requires the juvenile court to seal any records for an offense when he minor was granted a deferred entry of judgment and during which time the minor performed satisfactorily.

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Additional Resources

Juvenile Justice And Delinquency Prevention Commission in Ventura, CA – The first Probation Committee for Ventura County was created in 1909. Today, the JJDPC is authorized under Section 226 of the California State Welfare and Institutions Code to deal with the administration of the Juvenile Court Law in Ventura County. JJDPC coordinates with local community agencies to develop programs that prevent delinquency. The commission advocates for the best interests of children before and during contact with law enforcement. On the first Tuesday of each month (except for July) the commission meets at noon in the Juvenile Court on Vineyard Avenue in Oxnard.

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