According to California law, juveniles are people under the age of 18. Therefore Juvenile Delinquency Courts deal with cases involving minors who have violated specific laws. Juvenile courts are different from other courts because they allow for more discretion on behalf of the children involved in crimes. The primary purpose of these courts is to offer a chance for the youths to reform.

The juvenile delinquency process is different from an adult court in that the minors don’t face a jury. Instead, the judge and prosecutor aim to create a more favorable outcome for the minor offender at a juvenile court.

The state can help reduce juvenile delinquency by providing more opportunities to minors and their parents, such as having after-school programs to keep kids off the streets. Parents should also be educated on how they can better raise their children to become productive members of society.

If your child faces a criminal charge, you should consult a lawyer. At Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer, we have represented many minors. Therefore, we understand the California justice system, and we have a great rapport with the delinquent court judges, the police, and prosecutors.

Juvenile Delinquency Overview

Some juvenile delinquency crimes in California include aggravated assault, defacing property, gang involvement, and similar crimes. Although juvenile delinquency courts try minors from 12 to 18, the court can charge minors under 12. Some of the offenses which can lead to a minor under 12 being tried in a juvenile delinquency court include oral copulation, sexual penetration, the threat of great bodily harm, sodomy, murder or rape. Under normal circumstances, children under the age of 12 aren’t tried in a juvenile court.

Terms Used In Juvenile Delinquency Court

In an adult court, a defendant is found guilty and convicted of a crime. In a juvenile court, the judge “sustains the petition,” which means the prosecution has presented solid evidence which proves you have committed the crime beyond any reasonable doubt. Instead of “passing sentence” as it would happen in an adult court, the judge gives a disposition that determines the punishment for your crime.

If your crime isn’t severe, the judge can pass a disposition for informal probation. Under this disposition, you don’t admit to committing the offense, and the court dismisses the charges once you successfully complete your probation.

If your crimes are severe, the court can commit you to the California Youth Authority. The CYA is an equivalent of a California prison for minors. The California Youth Authority is known nowadays as the Division of Juvenile Justice.

Causes Of Juvenile Delinquency

Juvenile delinquency is not a new concept. The earliest recorded study of juvenile delinquency was in 1834 by Henry Mayhew and John Binny. They interviewed 100 boys from London’s slums about their unlawful activities on Saturday nights when they were supposed to be home.

However, today, the situation is much worse because youths have more opportunities to commit crimes. The minors who commit crimes don't feel like there's any way out. They may also have mental disorders which make them unable to tell right from wrong or care about the consequences of doing wrong. Or maybe they didn't have a strong family life, so they don't have anyone to guide them as they grow. Juveniles may also be social outcasts, making them turn to crime as an outlet for their anger and frustration.

In the United States, many different factors cause Juvenile delinquency. Some of these factors include mental disorders, lack of guidance from parents and teachers, or just not feeling like they've got anything going for themselves or family problems. It's hard to pinpoint one specific cause of Juvenile delinquency because each case is unique.  Juveniles need more guidance from parents and teachers to show them right from wrong.

Preventing The Minors From Committing Crimes

What are some of the ways to prevent juvenile delinquency? Who has the responsibility of preventing juveniles from committing crimes? Can children be stopped from committing crimes by teaching them life skills and giving them better opportunities?

Parents and society can take specific steps to prevent minors from committing crimes. Some of these activities include:

  1. Providing Options For Constructive Activities

By providing constructive activities, kids will have more time to focus on school and less idle time. Kids need a balance between extracurricular activity, afterschool programs, enrichment classes like cooking or language courses, creative pursuits such as art, sports participation in addition to schoolwork.

The parents can prevent their kids from committing a crime by involving them in positive activities like sports or clubs that require a lot of commitment. Another possibility for prevention would be providing youth an opportunity to express themselves through art programs at schools to feel more confident about expressing themselves socially.

  1. Reduce Exposure To Violence

Juvenile crime prevention also includes reducing youth exposure to violence, including family trauma syndrome or abuse that may lead children into gangs because they feel unsafe at home.

  1. Communities Should  Establish Stronger Ties With The Authority

Communities should also have stronger ties with law enforcement agencies and other entities that focus on children's safety, such as social workers.

  1. Better Monitoring By Parents

Parents need to monitor what minors are doing while online. In addition, you should make sure children aren’t exposed to inappropriate content which may influence them into committing crimes.

Juveniles need to be taught life skills and given better opportunities to have a chance to turn their lives around.

Juvenile delinquency is a serious matter, especially in Los Angeles. However, as stated above, you can address juvenile delinquency. One of the ways to do so is providing youth with more options or activities while also making sure that they aren’t exposed to inappropriate content, which could influence them into engaging in criminal behavior such as cyberbullying or other forms of online bullying. Juvenile crime prevention also includes reducing youth exposure to violence. For example, family trauma syndrome or abuse may lead children into gangs because they feel unsafe at home.

Effects Of Juvenile Delinquency

Juvenile delinquency can have a wide range of effects on the youth, family, and society. For example, juveniles in juvenile detention centers deal with high recidivism rates, which means many end up back there again even though they are released from their detainment center. In addition, once you’re convicted and sent to jail after committing a delinquent crime, you face challenges when trying to find employment later on because employers might view you negatively based on your record. Thus, juvenile delinquency has negative impacts on those individuals involved and the rest of society.

  1. Trauma To The Family For Having A Delinquent  Family Member

The family members might face the trauma of having a delinquent in the family. They may experience shame, embarrassment, or guilt because they are related to you, especially if you have been convicted of delinquency.  Dealing with these emotions can make it difficult to focus on their problems and create conflicts within the family.

Your family members also have an increased risk of experiencing mental health conditions. Some of these conditions include depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Therefore, another effect of youth delinquency is trauma to family members. The trauma can lead to shame, embarrassment, or regrets for having a family member who is a convicted felon.

It might also be traumatic when other people question how committed you are as parents for allowing your child to commit an unlawful act, although it’s not your fault. There will always be questions about what kind of parent would allow such behavior.

It can be difficult for family members to maintain relationships with other people who do not want to associate themselves with a family who has a delinquent.

Trauma may also include feelings of anger, resentment, and betrayal from family members towards the minor found guilty of a crime. Family trauma comprises all sorts of negative emotions, including shame, fear, worry and anxiety.

This family trauma could have long-lasting effects on family members, leading to chronic medical problems and social isolation.

Family trauma can be challenging for other family members, friends or children to deal with because they feel they're living in the shadow of shame. They feel like people are pointing their fingers at them, which can be shameful.

It might also be traumatic when a family member is caught in crime due to gang involvement or drug addiction. There’s always fear associated with what will happen if someone who has those tendencies comes home. It means there's an increased risk of violence, whether against another family member or towards oneself.

Who Do Juvenile Delinquency Courts Deal With In California?

Juvenile delinquency court deals with minors in the United States who get accused of committing a crime.   Delinquency courts are part of the criminal justice system and there is one for each county and district in California.

You may not always go through delinquency court as a minor offender. You might instead be charged as an adult, depending on the severity of the offense. For example, in California, you can be tried in an adult court for crimes like homicide or rape. The degree of your crime can also cause you to be charged as an adult. For example, you will be charged in an adult court if you commit crimes such as first, second, third-degree murder and sexual assault against a child under 14 years old. 

How Juvenile Courts Work In California

Delinquency court is a type of criminal court that deals with crimes committed by people under 18. They might have different names in California, but they all work more or less the same way. If you are under 18, the prosecutor will take you to delinquency court after police arrest you for a crime. 

It’s the prerequisite of the judge to make decisions and set punishments on how your delinquent case goes depending on its severity. The more severe the case, the harsher the penalties are likely to be.

If you are under 18 and you’re found guilty of an offense, the court may sentence you to probation, community service hours, fines or jail time.

In California, there's a division primarily tasked with handling juvenile offenders. The department's mandate is to prosecute the felonies and misdemeanors the minors commit. When the police arrest you as a minor, the juvenile court releases you to your parents or sends you to the Juvenile Assessment Center.

Juvenile Assessment Centers

Juvenile Assessment Center is a place where the court sends you for professionals to assess your situation. You can be evaluated for educational, medical and mental health needs before being returned home or placed in foster care, group homes, or other settings.

In California, there are two types of Juvenile assessment centers. Type I (JAC) is used primarily for detention purposes. Type 2 is Medical Home JAC used as medical staff offices and intake area when necessary.  At times it also serves as temporary housing for juveniles with special needs. You can also be sent to these Juvenile assessment centers if no one else with legal custody can take you in after being released from the DHS (Department of Human Services) custody.

The JAC staff provide education and referrals on parenting skills as well as information about available community resources.

How Juvenile Assessment Centers Work In California

Juvenile Assessment Centers are facilities that keep Juveniles in custody and work to rehabilitate them. You can be sent to these centers if you commit a crime. In California, Juvenile Assessment centers are run by probation officers with the help of law enforcement officials and mental health professionals. They look over juvenile cases such as neglect, abuse, abandonment, dependency or neglect, and delinquency for criminal allegations against juveniles.

What Prosecutors Must Prove To Charge You With Juvenile Delinquency

The juvenile delinquency law in California is particular about what the prosecution must prove to convict you as a minor. The prosecutor has to establish that you were at least ten years old and under 18 years of age when you committed the offense. They also have to show that the act was voluntary and against the California Penal Code.

The prosecution must show precisely when and where the alleged crime occurred to convict you of juvenile delinquency. The prosecutor must also show which law you contravened. Finally, the prosecution must also clearly state whether the crime was a simple assault or aggravated assault, robbery or grand theft, or which kind of a crime it was that you committed.

Defenses You Can Present Against Juvenile Delinquency Charges

The prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime, were under 18 years of age, and had criminal intent. This can be difficult because juvenile courts are traditionally more lenient than adult court systems, as they understand there’s still time for juvenile delinquents to change their ways. However, as a juvenile, you could defend yourself in juvenile court against these charges using one or more defenses:

Insanity — You can plead not guilty based on mental illness.

Coercion  — You can state the law enforcement officers coerced you into confessing to committing an illegal activity such as drug use, prostitution, and any other crime you might have been accused of committing.

Admissible Conduct  — This defense says that even though you broke the law, you didn’t do it with sufficient clarity or intent to commit the crime.

Insufficient Evidence  — Another defense is known as insufficient evidence. You can state there was insufficient evidence provided by prosecutors who charged you with the crime. You can say you were too young to know right from wrong due to your juvenile status.

It Was an Accident  — One of the defenses you can present in court is that the crime was an accident. You did not intend to commit the crime, neither were you negligent. However, it is essential to note that the prosecutors may still fight this defense if they prove you acted with criminal or ordinary negligence.

Call A Criminal Lawyer Near Me

Being charged with a crime as a juvenile can have far-reaching consequences. For example, you may have to spend time in juvenile detention and be prohibited from completing certain activities such as playing sports or visiting colleges that require a background check. The main aim of juvenile delinquency courts is to rehabilitate. But at times, you can be sent to the YCA, which is similar to a California minor’s prison.

So what can you do? First, you can present various defenses, for instance, "admissible conduct." This defense states that you didn’t commit the crime with sufficient clarity or intent to constitute juvenile delinquency even though you broke the law. Another defense you could use is "insufficient evidence," which states there was insufficient evidence provided by prosecutors who charged you with the crime.

If you or your loved one is charged with juvenile delinquency in Los Angeles, don’t hesitate to contact the Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer. We have represented minors who got very favorable rulings. You can reach us at 310-502-1314 for consultation.