Minors facing criminal accusations in California undergo a different justice system under the juvenile delinquency guidelines. The separate procedures separate the minors from the more serious penalties that adult offenders face. Further, giving the minors a more lenient detention period may help their rehabilitation, as they will acquire various skills.
Thus, the Division of Juvenile Justice gives minors, declared a ward of the court, a better chance to reform and avoid future criminal activities. In the long run, the detention system also shapes the minors’ general outlook in life and helps them engage in constructive activities. However, despite the leniency issued to minors, facing detention in the Division of Juvenile Justice is challenging for most wards. This is because the detention centers are reserved for the most serious juvenile offenders.
Juvenile offenders remain under strict supervision throughout and may risk facing detention in an adult facility under some case circumstances. If you or your child risks facing detention in the juvenile detention center, you want to contact a criminal defense attorney for assistance. They help you learn how to avoid detention or plead for a lower detention period. At Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer, our team has helped many wards of the court facing possible detention time in Los Angeles, California, giving them the needed legal support.
The Nature of Juvenile Offenses
The provisions of the law in various statutes apply to all citizens, including minors. Thus, the law applies to all persons, provided they comprehend the applicability of these restrictions. The average age for a person to form reasonable reasoning is around seven to nine years.
Since the law provides penalties to everybody, minors have to be accounted for in any legal breaches. However, they fall in a special category based on their tender age. As a result, a special court division called the Juvenile Delinquency Court exclusively handles cases involving minors as the offenders.
The first outcome for an arrested and detained minor is to appear in the juvenile court, where the presiding judge determines if the minor is liable for the crime. Once in court, the trial process is similar to that followed in regular courts. Some of the requirements to fulfill include establishing the elements of the crime. In addition, criminal procedure rules will apply to prevent wrongful detention for innocent minors.
If found to be involved in the alleged offense, the minor in question is declared a ward of the court. This is the equivalent of being guilty of an offense in regular court systems. Subsequently, the juvenile judge will issue the penalties that should follow, depending on the type of offense.
Following the separate judicial process, the minors should also be detained in separate facilities. By doing this, they have a better chance of completing rehabilitation and undergoing reform. Further, they will not have to deal with the harsh conditions present in regular prison systems.
What the Division of Juvenile Justice Entails
When minors are declared wards of court for engagement in criminal offenses, they require separate detention systems to uphold their safety and wellbeing. Thus, the government places the responsibility of rehabilitating the detained youth on the Division of Juvenile Justice. This department has remained active and was previously known as the California Youth Authority (CYA).
Although the Division of Juvenile Justice was specially developed to detain minors involved in offenses, it still operates under strict regulations. These conditions are necessary to promote reform among the detainees, as the facilities are designated to the most serious offenders below the age of majority. Essentially, the conditions in the facilities are the equivalent of an adult prison system.
However, the minor's basic needs are still given priority to ensure they undergo complete reform. For example, educational programs are available to ensure each minor exits with the requisite academic achievements. On top of this, the detainees receive intense rehabilitation treatment and behavioral reform sessions to promote change further.
Since the age bracket among minors declared wards of the court varies, the Division of Juvenile Justice accepts persons aged up to twenty-five years. Afterward, the detainees will be released or transferred to a regular prison system, depending on the circumstances.
Offenses Leading to Detention in the Division of Juvenile Justice
The governing statute containing all the offenses that lead to detention in the Division of Juvenile Justice is the Welfare and Institutions Code. Under section 707(b), the statute lists the serious juvenile offenses that attract the harshest repercussions for minors involved. Subsequently, the judge will refer to the list and operate within the confines provided for in the Welfare and Institutions Code.
The following are the prevalent offenses leading to detention in the Division of Juvenile Justice facilities:
- Rape or attempted rape
- Engagement in lewd conduct
- Committing assault with a firearm
- Robbery/robbery with violence
Additionally, an arrested minor may face penalties for offenses not listed under section 707(b), provided the judge deems it fit. This is common where the repercussions of the crime were severe on the victims.
While the trial ensues in the juvenile courts, the prosecutor must prove you were involved in all the elements of the crime. Thus, you should only face the crime’s repercussions after the judge establishes you are guilty of the crime.
Factors Influencing a Minor’s Detention in the Facilities
Even after a minor declared a ward of court receives detention orders, the court must consider several factors before authorizing the detention. The elements are useful in ensuring that the ward of court receives punishment proportional to their offense. Additionally, making the considerations is necessary to help the minors receive the most suitable rehabilitative services.
Once the judge reviews the factors and approves the detention, the minor will prepare for the detention period. The various factors for consideration are:
The Minor’s Academic Requirements
Usually, most minors will still be under an educational program during their arrest and detention. Even if the minor was not enrolled in school, all youths have a right to receive basic education in accredited institutions. Thus, the Division of Juvenile Justice facility should consider the minor’s educational level and make provisions for continued learning.
Thus, the minor will need to provide specific information like their education level to enable further planning. Soon after settling into the detention facility, they will resume formal learning as scheduled to promote consistent involvement in learning.
The Ward of the Court’s Age
Age also plays a significant role in determining whether the minor declared a ward of the court is fit to face detention in the Division of Juvenile Justice. This is because allowing interactions between extremely young minors and older ones may cause conflict. Similarly, older persons declared wards of the court would have difficulty fitting in the facilities after reaching a certain age.
Therefore, the juvenile judge must carefully consider the repercussions of sending the minor to the Division of Juvenile, given their age. If they are too young to withstand the strict conditions, a criminal attorney can prepare a petition for alternative rehabilitative measures.
Usually, the minimum age for minors to be eligible for court arraignment and possible detention is eleven years. After attaining the age of majority(eighteen years), the court may then review the case and issue new directives.
Subsequently, you may receive a transfer order to serve the remainder of your sentence in regular prison systems. However, minors who showed dedication and interest while in the Department of Juvenile Justice facilities may continue serving time there. This is a better option than the more rigid restrictions in regular prisons, as you may find it difficult to adjust.
The Minor’s Medical History and Underlying Conditions
Although not all minors have unique medical conditions that require additional care, the assigned personnel must inquire about their health status. This includes asking for basic medical tests and asking if the minor has undergone any serious medical procedures. Additionally, information on any allergies or trigger factors that affect the ward of the court should be discussed.
By consolidating this information, the Division of Juvenile Justice can avoid catastrophic outcomes related to health complications. Although the minor will be undergoing intense correctional and rehabilitative programs, their health should not be compromised.
How Likely the Minor is to Undergo Genuine Change
Doubtless, the most successful reform cases involve minors who understood the reason for their detention and were willing to make reforms. As a result, the judge should be convinced that the ward of the court is emotionally mature enough to understand the importance of undertaking the various reformative programs.
A failure to fully comprehend the reasoning behind their detention may end up being counterproductive. Most minors may develop a more difficult nature in response to the strictness, leading to minimal change. To avoid the futile outcome, the assigned juvenile officers can conduct short examinations. They will have a chance to assess the maturity levels and assign appropriate reform programs.
The Juvenile Disposition Hearing
Before the offender charged with a criminal offense can start their program, the juvenile judge will preside over a disposition hearing. This is the equivalent of trial and sentencing in regular adult courts. Therefore, you can engage a criminal defense lawyer to help you make the necessary precautions for your child’s or loved one’s hearing.
The attorney’s input can be pivotal to the case conclusion as they will help present the minor’s position adequately. Further, their defenses are useful to counter the prosecutor’s case presentation. If the judge finds the prosecutor’s presentation conclusive, they will declare the minor a ward of court.
Afterward, a deliberation on the best reform program to direct the minor begins. Before making a final deliberation, the judge will rely on several factors as a guide. A decision will then follow, as guided by the various considerations done. Some important factors to consider include:
The Type of Offense Charged Against the Minor
Section 707(b) of the Welfare and Institutions Code provides a comprehensive list of juvenile offenses leading to detention in the Division of Juvenile Justice. Subsequently, it is important to check whether the charges pressed fall within the listed offenses. Further, the judge will compare the offense to the recommended reformative action to confirm the minor's eligibility for detention.
When checking the nature of the offense, the juvenile judge can inquire on whether any aggravating or mitigating factors were present in the case. Minors who committed the offense at an aggravated level may risk facing stricter penalties in the Division of Justice. On the other hand, if any mitigating factors accompanied the wrongful actions, the judge may exercise leniency and review alternative forms of punishment.
The Minor's Background
Additionally, the judge may retrieve beneficial information to help with deciding by checking the minor's background. Usually, the details help reveal why the person acts in a specific way, leading to unlawful activities. Most cases will reveal that the minor grew up in an unsafe environment or was neglected as a young child, paving the way for unsafe practices.
Nonetheless, the background details should not be applied generally, as each minor's circumstances present a unique set of challenges. For example, minors caught in violent crimes may be inclined to violence based on previous abuse. Alternatively, the violence may stem from unrelated factors like unstable mental health. Therefore, the judge should instruct an in-depth analysis of the minor's circumstances before issuing a judgment.
Any Previous Juvenile Delinquency Records
Lastly, your previous records will instruct the final decision, especially if you have previously faced juvenile delinquency charges. The prosecutor may emphasize your records to discredit your character and vouch for detention like normal court proceedings.
Despite this, a criminal defense lawyer can help mitigate the circumstances by elaborating on the reforms you underwent after the initial case. Moreover, the defenses presented in your current case may be sufficient to deter detention in the Division of Juvenile Justice.
Objectives of Sending Minors to the Division of Juvenile Justice
As discussed, the detention centers under the Division of Juvenile Justice focus on constructive rehabilitation for the assigned minors. Therefore, the objectives are centered on instilling discipline, endurance, and self-control, among other values, among the detainees.
Overall, the outcome should be favorable for the involved parties, giving them a chance to recover and forge new behavioral patterns. Thus, the objectives of committing minors to the detention facilities are grounded on:
Promoting Rehabilitation and Recovery
If your case involves drug abuse or drug-related violence, you want to undergo a gradual rehabilitation program for improved health. Therefore, the judge may sign you up for treatment within the facility to help you overcome addiction and the side effects of long-term drug use.
Easing the Community Reintegration Upon Release
Additionally, minors committed to juvenile detention centers may have a difficult time with community reintegration after release. The Department of Juvenile Justice should guide the minors on how to adapt to their environment after slowly completing the detention program. This way, they are less likely to be agitated and inclined to commit more offenses.
Providing New Skills and Academic Support to the Detainees
The government also advocates for engaging the youth detainees in productive activities to keep them busy and to help them grow. Doing this will encourage them to find their interests and nurture them, further deterring them from the inclination to commit crimes. Therefore, the detention facilities provide access to self-improvement programs. They include behavioral therapy and sexual conduct counseling.
Further, the minors learn money management and development skills by engaging in incentivized activities. This means that they earn money by undertaking specific duties like cleaning the compounds, cleaning and janitorial services, and kitchen assistance. Their earnings are held on their behalf and released upon completing their sentence.
Estimated Duration of Stay in the Division of Juvenile Justice Facilities
When a minor is declared a ward of the court for engaging in section 707(b) offenses, the law provides that their detention should last for two years. Alternatively, the detainee may wait until they are twenty-three years, as the judge chooses the longer sentence between the two options.
For minors involved in other categories of offenses, the detention period lasts for two years or until they turn twenty-one. The judge's choice depends on which sentence lasts longer.
Find a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me
When your child or a loved one receives court directives to face detention in a Division of Juvenile Justice facility, you may be unsure of what to expect. Additionally, the minor may be unaware of the possible detention period, making it difficult to plan. Thus, seeking information on the correctional facilities can be highly beneficial to help prepare the minor for the oncoming process.
Additionally, you may find an alternative to the detention by discussing various options with your attorney. For example, the minor may benefit from defenses and mitigation statements to avoid detention. When doing so, you want to partner with an experienced criminal defense attorney. You will find their input beneficial, on top of receiving reliable services.
At Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer, you will work with a dedicated team of attorneys to deal with juvenile detention. The services extend beyond giving you information on the expected course of action for the minor declared a ward of the court. Thus, you can make inquiries and raise your concerns with us, to help you undergo the detention process more comfortably. Over the years, we have helped minors prepare for detention and seek more lenient court directives. Subsequently, you can count on us for reliable legal assistance. If your child or a loved one requires criminal defense services in Los Angeles, California, contact us today at 310-502-1314.