Los Angeles Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney


In my opinion, the most crucial consideration in a juvenile criminal case is coming up with a plan to protect the young person's record and figuring out how to make sure all future actions are moving in the right direction. As you probably know, if a minor ends up with a criminal record, their life and future will be forever marred, and they will have problems getting into the right schools and obtaining a job.

Colleges and employers will not be quick to accept someone with a criminal record. For the past 25 years, I have prioritized number one when I am hired to defend a juvenile to protect that young person's history. As a juvenile law attorney, I must do this effectively and with all my heart to save the juveniles' future. I have handled many cases in the Sylmar Juvenile Courthouse.

The first thing that I identify with the parents and minor is whether the minor is on the correct path to success. That means we look at whether the minor is attending and doing well in school. In our society, education (viewed the right way) is the building block for the rest of our life. If the minor is doing poorly in school, actions need to turn the tide in the right direction.

As a juvenile law lawyer, I have also helped numerous juveniles in this area. Also, if the minor does not have future goals, they will be wandering through life aimlessly without a road map.

Once they have clarity on what they want, the plan to achieve it becomes clear. With these basic tenets in place, I can then approach the judge and prosecutor and explain to them the plan we have to make sure they never see this minor in the juvenile criminal court again and show them how they can help make sure this minor is successful. The courts are supposed to be supporting the minors. They deal with them to get on the right path… and as a juvenile law lawyer, I make sure they do!

How Is The Juvenile Criminal System Different Than Adults? 

This is an important question because many people incorrectly believe that the adult and juvenile systems are the same. This could not be further from the truth. First, a minor is not entitled to a jury trial in a juvenile case. If a young person accused of a criminal offense says that they are innocent, the judge will hear all the evidence and decide whether they are guilty or innocent.

This is a huge difference from an adult case, where the person is entitled to a jury to decide whether they are guilty or innocent. Many juvenile judges are jaded and harsh and, worse yet, are intimidated by the District Attorney's Office and will not challenge them.

On the other hand, Juries do not have these outside pressures. They will listen to the evidence from each side and decide the case somewhat based on what they believe is the right thing to do. As long as the minor has an experienced attorney on their side, their chances of coming out clean are greatly improved.

Another vast difference between adult and juvenile courts is the punishments available to the judge and the limitations on how long a minor can be kept in custody. Typically, a juvenile cannot be held in custody past their twenty-fifth birthday in most juvenile criminal cases.

In an adult case, the judge can sentence the person to much more time depending on the charges and what they are convicted of by a jury. If the charge is severe enough, the prosecutors will move the case out of the juvenile system and into the adult court. If this occurs, the minor offender will be looking at significantly more penalties than if they had been tried in juvenile court.

These differences make it clear how important it is to seek and hire the best criminal defense attorney, particularly an experienced juvenile law attorney. One has successfully traversed the road your minor is about to embark upon. A juvenile crime is any criminal act committed by a minor (person below the legal age of 18). Commonly committed juvenile crimes include gang crimes, vandalism, theft crimes, shoplifting, vehicular theft, drug offenses, DUI, and assault and battery.

Many people make the mistake of assuming that minors can commit crimes and not suffer the consequences. However, this belief is far from the truth, as California has implemented strict laws and penalties for juveniles who engage in criminal behavior or acts of delinquency. In some cases, children may be charged as adults instead of minors if they have committed a serious criminal offense. With the consequences being so significant, juveniles and their families cannot take their criminal charges lightly and must contact an attorney to avoid harsh outcomes.

What Is The Age For Juvenile Court?

In San Fernando Valley, anyone under 18 when they commit a crime can be charged as a juvenile. Children as young as 12 can be charged with juvenile offenses, but these types of decisions are generally up to the discretion of probation departments.

Many negative consequences can result from having a juvenile conviction, and it is my job to protect people's rights and help them avoid convictions whenever possible. The best thing for a juvenile parent is to protect their child's record by having it sealed and destroyed. In some cases, an individual will commit a crime when they are 16 or 17 but not be charged and prosecuted with that crime until they are in their twenties. The case could be moved into adult court depending on how severe the crime was.

Due to the complexity of these cases, it's essential to have a criminal defense lawyer who has experience with juvenile criminal defense and knows how to obtain the best possible result. If a juvenile gets arrested in Los Angeles or the San Fernando Valley, they will be brought to the police station, and their parents may or may not be alerted. Depending on the seriousness of the case, the juvenile and their parents could be cited to the juvenile court directly from the police station or from where the minor was arrested.

In severe cases such as robbery, the juvenile will be arrested, fingerprinted, booked, photographed, and asked to make a statement. If the police hold the juvenile until the court date, then the juvenile will be housed in Sylmar Juvenile Hall or another juvenile area. If an individual turns 18 years old while the case is still pending, they might be moved into an adult holding facility. An experienced juvenile DUI defense attorney in Los Angeles who knows how to navigate the complex and challenging juvenile system will need to deal with these issues.

Penalties For Juvenile Offense Convictions In California

In Los Angeles County, the penalties associated with juvenile convictions depend on the seriousness of the crime. There is the potential for the person to be held in juvenile hall until they turn 25 years old. If the offense was severe enough, they could be tried as adults and given the maximum sentence. Regardless of whether someone is a juvenile, there are no limitations on the maximum sentence they could receive.

Various camps are meant to help rehabilitate juvenile convicts and get them out of the criminal justice system. There is also the option of suitable placement, similar to being placed in a foster home. Suitable placements may be ordered when a juvenile does not have an appropriate environment to live in at home. In some cases, a child will be allowed to stay at home and attend school while on probation and while being monitored by a probation department.

Suppose a juvenile pleads to their charge, successfully finishes one year of probation, and completes all the requirements under Welfare and Institutions Code Section 790. In that case, they could have the case dismissed, sealed, and destroyed.

654 resolutions under Welfare and Institution Code 790 allow juveniles to avoid pleading guilty and to have their cases wiped out after six months of doing community service, getting good grades, and cooperating with the probation department. There are many ways to resolve juvenile charges; each is meant to protect the public and serve the best interests of both the juvenile defendant and society.

If a person is convicted of a juvenile crime, they may be sentenced with: fines, court, legal fees, community service, and probation. Additionally, the juvenile may be removed from their home and placed in a juvenile detention center. When it comes to most juvenile crimes, the court's primary focus is helping rehabilitate the minor versus punishing them. For this reason, a juvenile may have to attend court-ordered counseling or rehabilitation. Juvenile convictions can qualify as strikes under California's Three Strikes Law.

Once a juvenile has been charged with a crime, it is always in the juvenile and their family's best interest to obtain a reliable criminal defense attorney who has successfully handled juvenile cases before. A lawyer will serve as the juvenile's advocate and litigate their future well-being. In some cases, a skilled criminal defense attorney can negotiate with prosecutors to have charges reduced or dismissed altogether. In all cases involving minors and juveniles, it is imperative to contact a lawyer right away to make sure that the rights of the juvenile are protected.

Alternative Punishments To Jail For Juvenile Offenders

When it comes to juvenile crimes, jail sentences are usually saved for those who need to be scared straight and danger to the public. An alternative form of punishment is home probation, which would allow the juvenile to continue going to school and avoid disruptions to their education. The juvenile system is designed to do what is best for the minor and weighs that against society's best. Foster homes and boot camps can also be options in some cases. Ultimately, these matters are best coordinated with the attorney, prosecutor, judge, probation department, and parents involved in the case.

Whether or not an alternative punishment will prevent a conviction from showing on a child's record is negotiable. In juvenile cases, the goal is to take advantage of options not available to adult offenders and ensure that a juvenile's record will be sealed and destroyed. Some crimes are not eligible to be sealed and destroyed, but most juvenile offenses can be. Once a conviction has been sealed and destroyed, it is inaccessible to everyone, including the police and the Department of Justice.

Some parents try to save money by not hiring an attorney to defend their children, which is a mistake. Having an attorney will allow parents to identify from the very beginning the best strategy for their child's situation and to enter the court with a game plan and their child's best interests in mind.

In the absence of a hired defense attorney, a public defender who has no information about the case will be presented with all the information at once and start at a disadvantage. An experienced and prepared attorney needs to be involved from the start to ensure that the minor gets treated fairly and has the best chance of having their record sealed. Only when this can be accomplished that a juvenile defendant will be able to fully recover and have access to all possible future job prospects.

Why Does A Child Even Need A Lawyer?

A juvenile does not plead guilty but instead admits a petition regarding juvenile matters. In some cases, admitting a petition will have negative ramifications that will result in a conviction that cannot be dismissed or sealed. Under such circumstances, it might be more beneficial to fight the case or have an attorney work out a resolution rather than admit the petition. For example, an attorney may work out a deal for a lesser charge that is eligible to be sealed and destroyed.

It is ill-advised to throw oneself at the mercy of the courts and much wiser to have an attorney work out a resolution that makes sense for the minor's future and gives them the best chances of a bright path forward into a beautiful life as a young adult.

Get Your Juvenile Record Seal and Destroyed

We are interested in helping juveniles go into adulthood with a clear record. A new law in California has made it easier to seal and destroy juvenile records. Any minor sentenced to probation in juvenile court can seal their record once off probation and reach 18 years old or if five years have passed since termination of probation, so long as the underlying offense qualifies.

Every minor eligible to seal their record must be provided with step-by-step instruction when they are put on probation. By 2015, an easy-to-do form is to be provided to the juvenile and family.

The only thing is that various offenses are not eligible to get sealed and destroyed. For example, if the minor is over 14 years old and was charged with second-degree robbery or assault with a deadly weapon, they will not be eligible to have their record sealed or destroyed. 

If your child is in a criminal situation, it is imperative and essential that you contact our firm and speak to one of our lawyers. We want to help your child and do everything to avoid conviction or seal and destroy any existing beliefs. We will talk with you further in detail and explain whether your child's criminal offense on their record is sealable and let you know all available options.

Experienced Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorneys

The Hedding Law Firm has represented many children and their families throughout the San Fernando Valley who have been charged with juvenile crimes. We know that young charges must always be taken seriously by knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys. When we work with our clients, our juvenile law attorney ensures that we do everything to provide them with the best legal resources, representation, and guidance.

If your child has been charged with a juvenile crime, call us at (213) 542-0940 today to speak with our juvenile law lawyer. Our skilled legal team will investigate your case's facts, contest evidence presented against you, and place every effort into your defense. We are dedicated to our clients and their cases.

Our criminal defense attorneys focus primarily on defending clients in cities throughout the San Fernando Valley, including San Fernando, Glendale, Burbank, Hidden Hills, Calabasas, Sylmar, Van Nuys, Woodland Hills, Mission Hills, Sherman Oaks, Granada Hills, Reseda, Canoga Park, West Hills, Winnetka, Pacoima, Chatsworth, and North Hollywood, CA. 

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