Juvenile Crimes

Los Angeles Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyer

Is Your Minor Son or Daughter Facing Criminal Charges?

When your child is charged with a crime, it is one of the scariest and most devastating times for a family. These days, a juvenile crime does not just get a slap on the wrist.

Depending on the severity of the crime, the age of your child, and other circumstances, your child may even be tried as an adult. If your child is facing charges in the juvenile court system, contact a Los Angeles juvenile criminal defense attorney from our firm today.

Put over 50 years of combined experience on your side. Contact our juvenile criminal defense attorney online today to get started defending your child's future.

What is a Juvenile Crime?

Juvenile crime refers to criminal activities committed by individuals who are minors, typically under the age of 18. Juvenile crimes are handled differently from adult crimes due to the age of the offender and the recognition that juveniles may not fully understand the consequences of their actions or have fully developed decision-making capabilities.

In California, common types of juvenile crimes include:

  • Shoplifting/Theft: This includes stealing items from stores or individuals.
  • Vandalism: Deliberate destruction or defacement of property.
  • Assault and Battery: Physical attacks or threats against others.
  • Drug Possession or Distribution: Possession or sale of illegal substances such as marijuana, cocaine, or prescription drugs.
  • Gang-Related Offenses: Participation in gang activities, including vandalism, assault, or drug trafficking.
  • Burglary: Unlawful entry into a building with the intent to commit theft or another crime.
  • Sexual Offenses: This can include sexual assault, statutory rape, or possession/distribution of child pornography.
  • Underage Drinking: Consumption of alcohol by individuals under the legal drinking age.
  • Cybercrimes: This includes activities such as hacking, cyberbullying, or online harassment.
  • Driving Offenses: This can include driving under the influence (DUI), reckless driving, or driving without a license.

What Makes Juvenile Cases Unique?

Many people may be unaware of how the juvenile courts work. They function very differently from regular state or federal courts.

For example:

  • In juvenile court, there is no jury
  • Cases are decided by a judge only
  • Minors may not be freed on bail, but a detention hearing will be held to determine if he or she will be released
  • A prosecutor will decide if the charge will be tried as a felony or a misdemeanor

What Are My Child's Rights When Being Interrogated by Police?

In California, minors have specific rights when being interrogated by the police, which are aimed at protecting their interests and ensuring fair treatment. These rights typically include:

  • The Right to Remain Silent: Just like adults, minors have the right to remain silent and not answer questions posed by law enforcement. They should be informed of this right before any questioning begins.
  • The Right to Legal Representation: Minors have the right to have an attorney present during questioning. If they cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to them.
  • The Right to Know the Nature of the Interrogation: Minors must be informed of the nature of the interrogation and the reason they are being questioned.
  • Parental Notification: In California, before interrogating a minor, law enforcement is generally required to notify the minor's parent or legal guardian, unless there are exceptional circumstances where such notification could jeopardize the investigation or the minor's safety.
  • The Right to Understand the Consequences of Waiving Rights: If a minor chooses to waive their rights, they must fully understand the consequences of doing so. This often involves ensuring that they comprehend the legal implications of their statements and the potential outcomes of the interrogation.
  • Protection Against Coercion and Duress: Minors cannot be coerced or forced into making statements against their will. Law enforcement must conduct interrogations in a manner that respects the minor's age and understanding.
  • Recording of Interrogations: While not explicitly stated as a right for minors, California law does require the electronic recording of custodial interrogations in certain serious felony cases. This measure aims to ensure transparency and accuracy in the interrogation process.

Juvenile Case FAQs

Q: If my child was out past curfew because of his job, can he still be charged with violating curfew?

A: Curfew laws are set by each city, and they establish what time a minor can no longer be out in public late at night.

However, there are exceptions which make it legal for your child to be out past curfew in one of the following scenarios:

  • Participation in a religious, educational or political activity
  • Running an errand for a parent or guardian, going to and from work
  • Responding to an emergency
  • Coming home from a school activity
  • Or if accompanied by an adult

Q: Can my child lose his driver’s license for skipping school?

A: If your child has skipped school more than three times, the juvenile court system may find him to be a “habitual truant” after holding a conference with you and your child. Habitual truants may lose driving privileges for up to one year.

Q: Can my child’s juvenile record be sealed when she is an adult?

A: You can request to have your child’s juvenile record sealed once she is 18 years old – or, five years after the last arrest or discharge from probation. The exception is that juvenile sustained petitions for crimes considered “strikes” under California’s three strike law generally cannot be sealed.

Q: Can I seal my child’s record for speeding or parking tickets, so that her insurance premiums will not increase?

A: No, juvenile records cannot be sealed for traffic or parking violations.

Q: How can my teenager be charged with DUI if her blood alcohol content was under .08%?

A: The DUI requirements are different for minors – if your minor child had a BAC of .01% or higher, she can be charged with DUI.

Q: If my child is arrested, when will he be released?

A: If your child is arrested, he will be either released with a citation or held in juvenile detention. In order to hold your child, the District Attorney must file a petition within 48 hours (excluding weekends and holidays) – and if the petition isn’t filed in time, your child has to be released regardless.

Defending Your Child's Future

The impact the a criminal record will have on your child's future cannot be overstated, as well, as it can prevent them from graduating high school, getting into college, and holding down a job for the rest of their lives. It is essential that you hire the best attorney you can for your child's defense. The experienced team at Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP is here to fight for you.

Here's how we can help:

  • Legal Representation: We provide experienced and dedicated legal representation for minors throughout the entire legal process. From the initial consultation to courtroom representation, we stand by our clients every step of the way.
  • Thorough Case Evaluation: We conduct a thorough evaluation of the case, examining all the evidence and circumstances surrounding the charges. This allows us to develop a strategic defense tailored to the specific needs of the minor.
  • Protection of Rights: We ensure that your child's rights are fully protected throughout the legal proceedings. This includes advising them of their rights, such as the right to remain silent and the right to legal representation, and making sure those rights are respected by law enforcement and the court.
  • Negotiation and Advocacy: We engage in negotiation with prosecutors to seek favorable outcomes for our clients, such as reduced charges or alternative sentencing options. We advocate vigorously on behalf  your child to achieve the best possible resolution to their case.
  • Courtroom Representation: If the case goes to trial, we provide skilled courtroom representation, presenting a compelling defense on behalf of your loved one. Our attorneys are experienced trial advocates who know how to effectively argue for our clients' interests in court.
  • Support and Guidance: We understand that facing juvenile charges can be a daunting experience for minors and their families. We provide compassionate support and guidance throughout the process, helping our clients navigate the legal system with confidence.

Contact our firm immediately if your son or daughter is facing juvenile crime charges. These charges can have a devastating effect on their future!

Juvenile Crimes Lawyer Serving Los Angeles

When looking for a criminal defense attorney for your child, you need an attorney who handles each case aggressively, efficiently, and with compassion. At Lessem, Newstat & Tooson, LLP, we understand the sensitivities of a juvenile crimes case, and how extremely important it is to provide your child with the best defense possible. We have over 50 years of combined experience handling juvenile cases, and attorney Mark Lessem in particular has specialized experience in juvenile defense.

“We are blessed to have you for our lawyer and will highly recommend you with your professional and educated advice!”

Why You Want Our Team on Your Side

Lessem, Newstat & Tooson's Promise to You
  • 1,000's of Cases Handled In & Out of Court
  • 50+ Years of Combined Legal Experience
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Your Fight Is Our Fight

When going through serious legal matters, do not put your case in the hands of just any attorney. Rather, work with a team who has earned a respected reputation for outstanding legal service and one with a proven track record of success.