Orange County Juvenile Crime Lawyer

Orange County juvenile crime lawyer

The Orange County juvenile justice system can be very detrimental to a young person. If they are sentenced to a juvenile detention facility, it can put them in the company of other troubled juveniles who are more than happy to teach them the ropes regarding their own criminal lifestyles.

If your child has been arrested, you may wonder what exactly you should do. There are long-term consequences for people with crimes on their background check from when they are a juvenile.

If your child has gotten in trouble with the law, you need a good Orange County juvenile crime lawyer. Learn more about how we can help you below, and give us a call to schedule a case consultation.

You Need an Experienced Juvenile Crime Lawyer on Your Child's Side

You need an experienced juvenile crime lawyer

When it comes to legal representation for your child, you can't beat the compassion, care, and client commitment that you get at The Law Offices of Frances Prizzia. At your free initial consultation, we will match you up with our juvenile defense attorney, who will stand by you and work with you every step of the way. Our lawyers have the knowledge, skill, and abilities to fight juvenile court cases.

We want to see you have the best possible outcome for your (or your child's) case, so we will do what we can to facilitate that.

  1. Case Evaluation and Analysis: At your initial free consultation, we will review your child's case and discuss the next steps that you should take. Our evaluation and analysis will give you the information you need to make the right decisions in this case.
  2. Investigation and Gathering Evidence: Most criminal cases require an investigation so that the defense can gather evidence supporting a guilty plea. Our investigators will search for witnesses who can testify and gather evidence to help you win your case.
  3. Development of Defense Strategies: Once we have researched your case and you have described it from your own perspective, we can begin to build your defense strategy. We will work with the parents or guardians as well as the defendant to determine the most effective defense strategy for your case.
  4. Negotiating Plea Bargains: When negotiating your plea bargain, we will work with the prosecutor to ensure you and your child fully understand the plea bargain they're offering and all of your legal options. We will advise you on plea bargains you may benefit from taking and on plea bargains that you should probably send back to the table.
  5. Representation in Court: When it comes time for your child to stand before the judge in a courtroom, he will not have to stand alone. We will be there to provide quality, professional legal representation. We will be there ensuring that your child's rights are always protected.
  6. Advocacy for Rehabilitation and Diversion Programs: If your child has a substance abuse problem or other issues, come on, and we will strongly advocate for them to be set to rehabilitation for diversion programs. These programs for far better for children as they grow and develop. These programs can help a child get back on the right track.

Understanding Juvenile Laws in California

The juvenile criminal justice system is very similar to its adult counterpart. However, the juvenile justice system is specifically for minors younger than 18 years old who have committed a crime in California. When a minor is arrested for a crime, their case goes through the juvenile court system.

While California laws apply to adults and describe illegal behavior, those same laws also apply to juveniles. For instance, just like in adult criminal cases, the burden of proof to establish beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the crime also rests on the prosecution in juvenile cases.

However, unlike in adult criminal cases, the determination of innocence or guilt in juvenile court is solely made by the judge, as there is no jury involved. 

Types of Juvenile Crimes

Juvenile crimes typically mirror adult crimes. However, some crimes are more commonly seen in juvenile court. For instance, you won't likely see many white-collar cases in juvenile court, although they're quite common in adult criminal court. However, you would probably see plenty of drug-related offenses, property offenses, and juvenile court offenses.

There are many reasons why a young person may get involved in criminal activity. They may run with the "wrong crowd" and succumb to peer pressure. Their family background may be difficult, they may have issues with substance abuse, or their parents may have issues with substance abuse. Finally, mental health issues have the potential to harm young people greatly.

Property Offenses

Property offenses

California Penal Code Section 594 legally defines vandalism as maliciously defacing graffiti or another form of written material, damaging or destroying another person's property. Under California law, the offense can be classified as either a misdemeanor or felony, subject to the extent of damage and monetary value involved.

Drug Offenses

This can include possession charges, prescription drug charges, manufacturing drugs, distributing drugs, and possessing drug paraphernalia. Drug offenses are numerous and common.

Violent Crimes

Violent crimes

Most of the violent crimes that are tried in juvenile court are also tried in adult Criminal Court. These crimes can include assault, battery, and more.

Sex Offenses

California has very strict laws on sex offenses. These offenses can range anywhere from forcible touching all the way to rape. Minors are just as capable of committing sex offenses as adults.

Juvenile DUI/DWI

Juvenile DUI DWI

Driving drunk or driving while under the influence of certain substances is a crime. Minors who get stopped and are arrested for DUI often pay a heavier price.

When a person's blood alcohol content is 0.08%, they are considered legally drunk. A driver under the influence can face jail time, fines, mandatory drug rehab programs, and their license could be suspended.

Factors Contributing to Juvenile Crimes

Many factors can contribute to a child engaging in criminal activity. It is not always due to poor parenting. However, often parental influence in a child's life does affect the choices that they make.

Some of the common factors that lead to juvenile crimes include:

  • Family Background;
  • Absent Parent;
  • Lack of Adult Supervision;
  • Peer Pressure;
  • Neglect;
  • Overindulgence/Spoiling;
  • Poor Adult Role Models;
  • Substance Abuse;
  • Child Molestation;
  • Trauma;
  • Isolation;
  • Lack of Appropriate Social Outlets; and
  • Mental Health Issues.

While a child who experiences these things is not automatically predisposed to engaging in criminal behavior, these factors certainly increase the risk of it happening.

Legal Process for Juvenile Crimes

Legal process for juvenile crimes

The juvenile court legal process begins at the arrest most of the time. Sometimes an investigation precedes the arrest so that it may begin there. However, when an officer encounters a juvenile breaking the law, they can choose whether to warn the young person and send them home, write the juvenile a citation, or take the juvenile to the detention center.

Arrest and Detention of Juvenile Offenders

When a young person is arrested, he is taken to the detention center, where they will begin the juvenile process to deal with their criminal charges. Sometimes the minor will be released and is able to go home, but sometimes the minor remains at the detention center.

Juvenile Detention Hearings

Under California law, when a minor is arrested and held in custody, they will have an initial detention hearing that will help them determine if the minor should remain in custody or if they can go home.

Juvenile Adjudication Process

An adjudication hearing is much like an arraignment in adult criminal court. The minor appears before the judge, and the judge decides if the minor broke the law, along with other determinations. If the judge decides that the accusations are factual, they will keep the charges and prepare for the trial.

Sentencing and Disposition of Juvenile Cases

It is up to the judge to determine sentences for juveniles. While adults are sentenced to jail, a minor is sentenced to juvenile hall. In some cases where the crime was very bad, such as murder, the minor will be tried as an adult and placed in jail with other adults.

Possible Penalties for Juvenile Offenses in California

Penalties for juvenile crimes include time in the juvenile detention center, probation, fines, restitution, community service, drug abuse programs, and more. The penalties are issues depending on the offense.

Diversion Programs Available for Juvenile Offenses

California has several diversion programs available for various types of juvenile offenses. This could be an opportunity for rehabilitation instead of incarceration, making it easier for individuals and families to obtain a fresh start.

A few options include:

  • Community-Managed Diversion - WIC 626(b): In this approach, law enforcement officers assign the case to a community agency that makes the decision on how to proceed, bypassing court involvement.
  • Voluntary Probation – WIC 654: Implemented by the juvenile probation department, this diversion strategy involves minimal court involvement. The young person remains in their home setting while serving a probation period ranging from six months to one year.
  • Court-Supervised Probation Under WIC 654.2: This form of voluntary probation includes the involvement of the juvenile court following the submission of a formal petition by the prosecutor. The young person is obliged to participate in a diversion program within the probation department during their probation.
  • Half-Year Deferred Judgment – WIC 725(a): This type of probation has the minor admitting to minor offenses and being put under a six-month probation under the supervision of the probation department.
  • Court-Ordered Probation – WIC 725(b): The young person becomes a ward of the court during a six-month probation, with the juvenile court retaining authority over them.
  • Legal Wardship Probation – WIC 727: Here, the young person is considered to have broken the law and becomes a ward of the court, with the court overseeing their probation terms.
  • Deferred Judgment – WIC 790: This probation is available to youths who have committed non-severe felonies and satisfy specific conditions. The individual hasn't previously been declared a ward of the court for a felony offense.
  • Formal Court-Ordered Probation – WIC 602: The court recognizes the minor as having broken the law and assigns them to formal probation. If the individual is a ward of the court, they will be supervised until the ages of 21 or 24 if committed to the DJJ.
  • Pre-Court Diversion Program: A program offered under WIC 654 that is primarily for first-time young offenders who have committed minor offenses. The case isn't formally filed in court, and the individual receives informal supervision for six months.

California's Prop 57

California's Prop 57, passed in 2016, focuses on rehabilitation rather than punishment for juvenile offenders. It gives judges, rather than prosecutors, the authority to decide whether juveniles aged 14 and above should be prosecuted as adults. This legislation aims to provide more opportunities for parole consideration and incentives for inmates to participate in rehabilitation programs.

Prop 57, therefore, reshapes California's criminal justice system, focusing more on reducing recidivism and improving public safety.

OC Young Adult Court

OC Young Adult Court in Orange County, California, provides a comprehensive, treatment-focused program specifically designed for young adults aged 18-25. The court emphasizes reducing recidivism through therapeutic and rehabilitative services instead of punitive measures. If applicable, the participants undergo a structured program including therapy, substance abuse treatment, education, vocational training, and community service. Graduates of the program, which typically lasts 12-18 months, receive reduced charges or have their charges dismissed altogether.

You should work with an experienced Orange County juvenile attorney who can review the options and help you decide which path is best for your situation.

Contact Our Experienced Juvenile Crime Lawyer at The Law Offices of Frances Prizzia for an Initial Case Consultation

Contact our experienced juvenile crime lawyer

If your child is facing charges, you want to secure the best criminal defense attorney possible. At The Law Offices of Frances Prizzia, we will fight for your child and get the best possible outcome for your case.

Don't wait to see what happens. Don't wait for the dust to settle. Call our Orange County Juvenile Crime Lawyer today, don't wait another minute. From the moment you choose us, we'll spring into action. We will independently investigate the matter, collect evidence on our own behalf, and identify witnesses of the incident.

In the courtroom, we will assertively defend your child and work hard to protect their rights while seeking the best possible outcome of the case. At every step in the process, we will explain it to you so that you clearly understand the process.

Call today to schedule your free consultation and get started in your pursuit of justice.

FAQs About Juvenile Crimes and Lawyers

Juvenile law is very complex. It isn't always as straightforward as the adult criminal process. This often leaves many people with a lot of questions. When you sign with us, we make ourselves available every day, so if you see a problem or have a question, we're right there to give you the answers and ensure that you are comfortable with the situation.

These are some of the most common questions parents and juveniles have had about their cases and the juvenile justice system.

Some juvenile records are sealed, while others require the defense attorney to request that they are sealed.

In order to get criminal records expunged, the defendant must be 18 years old, or it has been five years since your case was closed. The court must also be satisfied that the person has been rehabilitated.

It is worth noting that expungement makes criminal records not visible to most people. It may still be visible on certain records. For the most part, though, if a prospective employer or landlord pulls a background check, they aren't likely to see the offense.

uvenile records do not get destroyed when the defendant turns 18 years old. They do remain as part of your permanent record. This does not mean you can't get your records sealed, expunged, or destroyed. For most convictions, this is possible. Most convictions require that, in order to seek an expungement, either the defendant turns 18 or it has been five years since the incident.

It is a common misconception that juvenile records are immediately wiped away when the defendant turns 18 years old. This simply is not true. It takes some work, but it is doable. Your defense attorney can be an invaluable help in this process.

Parents can be held liable for the juvenile crimes that their child has committed in both criminal and civil courts. They can be held liable for their criminal actions and any property damage or other harm they commit. You could find yourself paying restitution for a crime your child committed.

The best thing to do is talk to a criminal defense lawyer about your liability should your child commit a crime. Your attorney can look at the specifics of your case and advise you as to whether you can be held liable and, if so, what you can do about it.

Call us about your case today at
(714) 362-0157 for a
Free Confidential Consultation.

Our Newport Beach
5000 Birch Street, Suite 3000
Newport Beach, CA 92660

Phone: (714) 362-0157

Why Choose
Frances Prizzia Criminal Defense Lawyers


Client Centered Approach

Our clients are our priority, we listen & have your best interests in mind. Our philosophy is that crime is simply a symptom of a bigger issue that should be addressed.

Reputation by Excellence

"Top 100 Trial Lawyers" by the National Trial Lawyers and Clients' Choice by Avvo.


Over 17+ Years of Criminal Defense Experience on your side.

Innovative & Determined

We think outside the box and never leave a stone unturned.

You're Not Just Another Client

You're in a difficult situation that requires attention. Our boutique legal team walks you through the legal process so you don't feel lost.


We are available 24/7 for emergencies & offer free confidential consultations.
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