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Juvenile Delinquency

What is Juvenile Delinquency?

Juvenile delinquency can be the same as any other crime, but there are some crimes that apply only to minors. For example, if the child ran away, skipped school, broke curfew, or disobeyed his or her parents — did things that are only against the law because they are done by children then the probation department files a 601 Petition. This refers to California Welfare and Institutions Code Section 601

If on the other hand, a minor committed an act that is a crime, regardless of the age of the perpetrator, the district attorney files a 602 Petition. This refers to California Welfare and Institutions Code Section 602.

A 602 Petition alleges that a child did something that would still be a crime if he or she was 18 or older. This can be a felony, like car theft, drug sales, rape, or murder. Or a misdemeanor, like assault or drunk driving. If the judge decides that the facts alleged in the petition are true, the child becomes a “ward” of the court as a “delinquent.” The punishment depends on what the child did. The child’s prior history can be very important in arguing for leniency.

A special court system, special rules, procedures and laws have been put in place to handle any crime committed by an emancipated person who is less than 18 years old. These apply to all juveniles alleged to have broken a law ranging from being out minor offenses to a charge of murder. These court procedures have been created to deal with children alleged to have broken the law and are distinct from the adult criminal process.  Care is taken to protect the privacy of the accused. The proceedings are not conducted in open court and there is no jury. In some rare and egregious cases, such as murder, the child may be tried as an adult, in adult court instead of juvenile court. In that case the juvenile court rules do not apply.

An allegation of a Juvenile crime can have a devastating effect on your child’s reputation, livelihood and over all well-being. It is crucial that a juvenile case be handled with extreme care and caution by an experienced defense Attorney.

Common Juvenile Crimes:

Vandalism, especially graffiti

Theft, especially shoplifting. But burglary, be it commercial burglary, residential burglary or theft from a vehicle are also common offenses.

Fighting in school, or outside of school, known as assault is also common. The type of assault alleged depends on a number of factors, including injuries inflicted, and weapon (if any) used. 

Underage drinking violations, vehicle related or not.

Joyriding or stealing a car, known as driving without the owner’s permission.

Gang related crime. 

The Judicial Branch of the State of California has a Guide to Juvenile Court which provides a thorough orientation to the juvenile court system.



The answer is yes. They have many rights under the Minimum Standards for Juvenile Facilities. You can find them in Titles 15 and 24 of the California Code of Regulations. These rights have been expanded effective January 1, 2019.

When a minor is first admitted to a facility, the minor has the right to two free phone calls in the first hour, a shower, a secure place for his or her personal belongings, food, and a screening to determine if the child has any needs related to physical and emotional health and safety. 

There are also rules with respect to room confinement, which means putting the minor in a locked room alone with no contact with other people except staff and lawyers. Another word for room confinement is “isolation.”

Staff cannot lock a minor in a room alone unless they have tried other solutions first.

Staff cannot isolate the minor for punishment, coercion, retaliation or convenience. And they cannot isolate a minor if it is harmful to the minor’s physical or mental health.

The longest staff can keep a minor locked in a room is 4 hours. To keep a minor in a room for longer, staff have to get permission from their boss, write down why and how long they confine you, and make a plan for when the minor will get out. Every 4 hours after that, they need to get permission from their boss to keep the minor locked in a room.

The only exceptions to these rules are for emergencies, like natural disasters, or if a doctor says the minor needs to be in a room alone to recover from medical treatment.

There are also similar rules regarding a safety room, which is room confinement with padded walls, flooring and door.  There are also rules that apply to the use of force, chemical agents, physical restraints, searches, discipline, clothes and supplies. There are also rules for grievances, programming and visiting. There are protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning or intersex youth. There are provisions for pregnant offenders, and for the education of all offenders.

The best solution, however is to avoid juvenile halls, ranches and camps in the first place. The best way to do that is to have a lawyer you trust on your side.

If you have any questions regarding a juvenile crime, please call for a free consultation.


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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Information about possible sentences are only provided to give the reader a general idea. In any given case, sentencing considerations can be far more complicated. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.

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