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Parental Rights in Juvenile Cases

This article is for you if you are a parent/ guardian and your minor faces arrest for a crime in California. You could feel powerless and confused when your minor goes through the harsh criminal justice system. Fortunately for you, parents have particular rights in California juvenile delinquency cases.

For example, you have the right to know when your child faces arrest, what crime they committed, and to hire a defense attorney to represent them in court. Then again, the law expects you to perform particular obligations like compensating the state for the expense of your child’s support and care while in custody or the plaintiff.

Navigating the California justice system alone is challenging, so you want to hire a competent attorney to help you. At Leah Legal, we have experienced criminal attorneys who cannot only advise you on your rights but also fight for your child’s rights. You cannot go wrong by working with us if your child faces criminal charges in Van Nuys, CA.

California Juvenile Cases Overview

In California, when a minor commits a crime, they are tried under juvenile law. The juvenile delinquency court has a different jurisdiction than the adult court, including procedures and terminology. After your child’s arrest, the police detain them in juvenile hall.

The probation officers have the jurisdiction to send your minor home with a citation or keep them in custody at the juvenile hall until they appear in court. The juvenile case involves different court hearings, including detention, transfer, adjudication, and disposition hearings.

During the detention hearing, the juvenile judge determines if your minor should remain in juvenile hall until the case is resolved. In the transfer hearing, the court determines if your minor’s case should remain in juvenile court or be transferred to an adult court. Adjudication involves trying your child in front of a judge rather than a jury. If the juror sustains the charges against your minor, the final sentence is made during the disposition hearing.

You have various rights from the start to the end of your child’s case, including:

  1. A Right To Receive A Notification About Your Child’s Arrest And Detainment

As mentioned above, your child is detained in juvenile hall after their arrest in California. The arresting officer should notify you of your minor’s arrest. It is devastating not seeing your child come home and you are unaware of their whereabouts. That is why your right to be notified if the minor is arrested should be observed.

Knowing about your child’s arrest prompts you to look for legal solutions like having the minor released on bail, settle the case out of court, or hire an attorney. However, you have no right to be present during your minor’s investigation. You could advise your minor to remain silent or exercise their Miranda rights until they speak to an attorney. Exercising Miranda rights is vital as law enforcement seeks any information to build a case against your child and helps the child avoid incriminating themselves.

Note that you could visit your child when they are in custody. The visits are not confidential as the interrogation rooms have surveillance cameras that could record your conversation with the minor. You want to avoid the urge to ask your minor questions regarding the crime even if the police are not physically present. Remember to seek legal guidance before visiting your child while they are in the juvenile hall.

  1. A Right To Be Informed Of Your Child’s Constitutional Rights

California law protects the rights of defendants and suspects of all ages. Your minor has various rights regardless of the offense they commit that should be respected during arrest through trial. As a parent, you also are required to be informed of your child’s constitutional rights. Since minors are aged below 18 years, their parents and guardians should ensure their children’s rights are observed.

Your child could be traumatized for undergoing arrest or even the juvenile justice system. Because of the shock your child could experience, they could incriminate themselves when speaking to the law enforcers. If you know your child’s rights, you know the ideal advice to offer them. When fighting a juvenile case, your minor has various constitutional rights, including:

  • A law enforcer must have probable cause before arresting or searching your minor.
  • In case your child is put in jail and is not released, the law allows them to use a phone to call you. That means you could look for and hire an attorney fast and have your minor walk out of jail. The police violate the child’s Miranda rights should they deny them a phone call. As a result, the court could rule that the information the police gathered is inadmissible.
  • Law enforcement should tell your minor the charges they could face after the arrest.
  • Your child has a right to legal representation in juvenile court. You want to contact an experienced lawyer immediately after your minor’s arrest.
  • Your child has the right to examine the plaintiff's witnesses. Even if the juvenile court has a different approach to an adult court, your child has the right to question the witnesses invited to testify against them.
  • Your minor has the right to have allegations against them proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecutor must prove that your minor is guilty before the court considers them delinquent.
  1. A Right to Seek An Attorney’s Help

You could easily blunder in court if you decide not to hire a criminal lawyer to represent your minor in court. When your child is facing charges, you have the right to seek legal counsel under California Welfare and Institutions Code 627.5. If you cannot afford to hire a private defense lawyer, the state should provide you with one.

Note that hiring an attorney has a myriad of benefits to you and your child. You could focus on other projects while the lawyer interviews witnesses and gathers pieces of evidence. Since a lawyer is trained to handle criminal cases, you and your child gain confidence that you will achieve a positive outcome.

You want to confirm certain aspects to ensure your lawyer is ideal for handling your child’s case, including:

Many Years Of Experience

You want to work with a lawyer who has worked for many years and learned the ropes of juvenile cases. The lawyer must also have experience with criminal cases and have won several of them. Note that an attorney experienced with handling adult cases could not be ideal for your minor’s case.

In-Depth Knowledge On Juvenile Cases

Your attorney must have studied for the specific practice area in law school apart from having an incredible experience. Working with a learned attorney is vital because of reasons like:

  • A knowledgeable lawyer can identify the possible consequences of your minor’s crime.
  • They know common strategies and tactics that the p[rosecution uses.
  • They can discern the character and tendencies of the judge handling your minor’s case.
  • They know where and how to look for the availability of treatments, programs, and other alternative sentences.

They Are A Local Criminal Lawyer

Each state has laws that differ from those of another state. For a smooth experience, you want to hire a lawyer with knowledge regarding California laws. Working with a local criminal attorney makes it easier for you and your child to meet the lawyer. As a result, you spend less as there are no flight costs, and you can schedule meetings with the lawyer faster.

Compatibility With You And Your Child

Compatibility is the fact that you should never overlook when hiring a lawyer. When checking compatibility, ensure the lawyer can connect well with children. The attorney must be hospitable and of good morals. You don't want to entrust your child to someone with a questionable character.

Smooth Communication

Handling children is not the easiest thing. Often, children cannot discern what the law requires them to do when facing charges. You rely on the attorney to relay relevant and essential information to your child and in an understandable manner. Upholding steady communication between your minor and their lawyer ensures they do not miss court dates, lawyer meetings, and meeting the probation officers if need be.

  1. A Right to be Present During the Juvenile Court Proceedings

Many court hearings occur after your minor’s arrest and before conviction. A detention hearing is the first healing that the court holds to determine if your child remains in the juvenile hall or goes home. You should be present since the court identifies every child’s parent or guardian before detaining them. You don’t want to miss these hearings as you have the right to attend, plus you are there to offer support to your child.

The jurisdiction hearing comes after the detention hearing. During the second hearing, the court determines if the petition is correct. If you choose not to contest the petition, another hearing, the disposition hearing, is scheduled. During the disposition hearing, the court could dismiss the case or sentence the child.

If the child is sentenced to probation, the court holds a review hearing after every six months. The reviews are to know your child’s progress and how you are ensuring your child obeys the court orders.

  1. A Right for Your Child’s Hearing to Remain Confidential

In California, the juvenile court operates differently from an adult court. A juvenile court’s main role is rehabilitating and not punishing minors. Since the court purposes of addressing your minor’s best interests, you have the right to ask the court to hold the proceedings in private.

California Penal Code 5.530 states that the public is prohibited from attending juvenile court proceedings. However, the statute details authorized persons who could be present in court during your minor’s hearing proceedings. These people must have a direct interest or involvement in the case.

You can request the court to allow other persons in court during the juvenile proceedings. However, the minor could object to another party’s admission as long as the court rules that such presence could prejudice the case. Your attorney could help you identify who can't be in juvenile court during your minor’s hearings.

  1. A Right to Inspect Your Minor’s Juvenile Court Files

California PC 5.552 gives parents and guardians the right to inspect your minor’s court file. Also, you have the right to view all probation records of your child. Under this law, you can petition the court to allow you access and review your child’s case file together with your attorney. The court requires you to explain why you should access the case files, the particular files you want to access, their connection to your minor’s case, and your role in the case.

The court reviews your application and determines if you can review the files. If your reasons show good cause, you are given access to check the documents under protective orders. The court must follow the application process to ensure your interests and those of the child and public are not compromised.

  1. A Right to Protect Your Minor from Coercion

California Senate Bill 203 states that minors cannot undergo custodial interrogation until they talk to their lawyers. The bill’s primary goal is to prevent children’s rights from being violated without knowing. At times law enforcers disregard the fact that they are handling minors and use force to draw information and build a case against your minor. You want your criminal attorney’s presence during interrogation.

The law described three types of coerced confessions that the court could dismiss. The first is a voluntary false confession that a psychiatric disorder is caused by wrapping up your child’s sense of reality. Because of the disorder, your child could confess as it creates a belief that it could bring fame. Secondly, your minor could confess to protect you, especially if the allegations were against you.

Lastly, it is the compliant false confession. This is a type of coerced confessions that could happen during a police interrogation. Complain false and persuaded false confessions have similarities where the minor is put in a situation that makes them doubt their memory. As a result, the minor is convinced that they violated the law. Sometimes children confess, thinking that their honesty will make the judge give a lighter penalty or forgive their crime.

Law enforcers also try using psychological abuse until the minor confesses to committing a crime. Psychological abuse involves using mental tricks and emotional ploys. For instance, the police could tell the child that they will receive harsh sentences or promise to release them if they do not confess.

  1. A Right to Appeal Your Child’s Case

You have the right to petition for a review hearing after disposition. You want first to write a Notice of Appeal to inform other parties that you are appealing the juvenile court’s ruling. As the parent, the law requires you to file the notice within 60 days after the disposition hearing. Also, you are required to file the notice in the court that handled your minor’s case, not the Court of Appeal. You want to consult your attorney when filing and before signing the appeal forms.

Following are the elements you must include in the appeal letter:

  • A statement saying that you are appealing
  • The sentence you are petitioning against
  • Clearly state if you are appealing against the ruling or part of it.
  • Your signature and that of your minor’s lawyer for identification purposes

Your Obligations in a Juvenile Case As a Parent

Apart from the rights you have in your child’s case, you have particular obligations, especially to cater for expenses involved. You bear the burden since children are not expected to work and should be under the care of a parent or guardian. These obligations include:

  • Paying for restitution, for example, medical costs, lost wages, and damaged property.
  • Covering the attorney fees if hiring a private attorney
  • Covering the electronic surveillance costs

Find a Juvenile Delinquency Attorney Near Me

Juvenile offenders are not tried similarly to adult offenders. The law requires juvenile offenders to be tried in juvenile courts. These courts follow particular procedures that aim to rehabilitate minors. Since these are children in crime, parents and guardians have rights in juvenile cases. As a parent to a juvenile facing criminal charges in California, you have the right to know about your child’s arrest, charges, court proceedings, and appeal the court ruling.

While you have several rights in a juvenile case against your child, navigating the justice system is hard, especially if you don’t have juvenile law experience and knowledge. You want to hire a competent lawyer with many years of experience handling juvenile cases. Your minor’s attorney will tell you what rights you have and help with ensuring the law enforcers and prosecution alike respect them.

At Leah Legal, we could help you fight for your rights as a parent and those of your child facing charges in Van Nuys, CA. Contact us the instant you learn about the allegations against your child at 818-484-1100. Time is of the essence! Reach out to us before the case escalates, or the court imposes severe sentencing on your child.