Juvenile Justice System
If your child is facing juvenile criminal charges, you may have many questions about the legal process for juveniles. The following information is not comprehensive but is intended to familiarize you with some of the steps involved in a juvenile case and some of the ways in which the system functions.
County Probation Departments
In California, only about 10% of youth who have some type of police contact are actually referred to a probation department. Much of the juvenile process occurs within these probation departments. The probation departments have the authority to decide whether to accept a youth for booking at a juvenile hall or to release them to their parents or other suitable housing situation.
If a case is not very serious and it seems that the juvenile would probably enter probation following a court case, the individual may directly enter informal probation. This can last no longer than six months, and a probation officer will create a plan for the juvenile. This may include counseling, education, meetings with the probation officer, or drug screening. If the youth does not complete the requirements of probation, the probation officer could still make a petition for the juvenile to face charges.
In other cases, a petition will be filed in juvenile court (similar to being charged in court as an adult) or, more rarely, the district attorney could recommend that charges be moved to a superior court. If the petition is sustained (similar to receiving a conviction), then the juvenile may face formal probation, time at a county ranch or camp, placement in a foster home, or may be sent to the Youth Authority as a ward of the state.
Facing a juvenile charge can be difficult and confusing. If you or a family member is in this situation, contact a San Jose criminal defense lawyer at the Law Office of Daniel Jensen, P.C. today at (408) 296-4100 to speak with a caring and qualified attorney.