Anyone who is arrested in California should be aware of the potential long-term consequences that can accompany a conviction. A criminal record can be problematic in multiple aspects of life. This is true for adults, but it is especially true for juveniles. The juvenile legal system differs from the adult system in the state. There is generally considered a better chance at rehabilitation for juveniles and the courts may be lenient, depending on the circumstances. Still, it is wise to consider the importance of a criminal defense after a person under 18 has been arrested.

Understanding juvenile delinquency in California

Regardless of why a juvenile was arrested, the court will take various issues into consideration and react accordingly. If there is a previous record, that will be factored in. The court has latitude as to how to deal with the child. The child can continue living with the parents with court supervision; there can be probation or a change in living arrangements; he or she can be placed in a camp for probation; or there can even be juvenile detention.

Law enforcement has its own options when it arrests a juvenile. The child can be arrested and then allowed to go home; he or she can be sent for counseling, care and shelter; a Notice to Appear can be given; or the child can be placed in juvenile hall where two calls are allowed – one to a responsible adult in the child’s life and the other to a legal professional. Children have the same rights as an adult when arrested. That includes the right to remain silent, the understanding that anything said can be used in a court case, and the right to legal representation. The child’s age at the time of the arrest is a fundamental factor in exercising legal rights.

Adult court is a possibility

For serious crimes, a child could be tried in adult court. The minimum age to be tried in adult court is 14. If, for example, the child is accused of murder, arson, armed robbery, sexual crimes, gun crimes or serious drug crimes, the severity may dictate adult charges. There is a large gap between how juvenile court and adult court handles a case, not the least of which is the child facing the possibility of being sent to an adult prison. If the allegations are such that the child is facing the legitimate possibility of adult court and eventually being incarcerated in a facility that is meant for those 18 or older, it becomes even more urgent that the parents seek legal advice to address these allegations.

Legal defense is key for juveniles who have been arrested

Some juvenile crimes are considered minor like graffiti, possession of alcohol, possession of drugs for individual use or even shoplifting. This is not to downplay misbehavior, but these acts are viewed differently from violence, high-level drugs and felony theft. Regardless, a criminal record can cause challenges in a juvenile’s life as he or she seeks to advance with admission to a school, getting into the military and seeking employment. The potential for adult charges can lead to a long-term incarceration.

To protect the child’s future, combating the charges is key. There could have been others involved and the child may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Addiction issues could be a factor and treatment an alternative. A difficult home life could change the perspective of the child’s behavior. Or the juvenile could be innocent. No matter what, having legal assistance from a firm that has experience in criminal defense and juvenile crimes may be essential to deal with the case from the start.