For many, the experience of a child having been arrested and charged with a crime can be one the most traumatic things, the help of an experienced Juvenile Defense Attorney can often make the difference between a positive or a negative outcome. As Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyers we have extensive experience in handling all juvenile Court matters. We find that immediate intervention by a juvenile attorney can often prevent a matter from proceeding to juvenile court or minimize the potential serious consequences that can come from a juvenile arrest and detention. Juvenile Lawyer Matthew J. Ruff has former Juvenile District Attorney Office experience and a decade of knowledge in the Juvenile Court System.
In California the Juvenile Court System is designed to handle matters associated with juvenile law, called juvenile delinquency cases and juvenile dependency cases. Juvenile delinquency cases concern charges of a criminal law violation by a "minor" (defined as a person under the age of 18). The main Juvenile Courts for Los Angeles County are in Long Beach, Compton, Inglewood, Torrance, Downey ("Los Padrinos"), Pomona, Pasadena, East Los Angeles ("Eastlake") and Sylmar, and Bakersfield for Kern County cases.
Juvenile Dependency cases involve allegations of child abuse or neglect against the parents or guardian of a minor. Monterey Park children's Court is the main Court for these matters in Los Angeles. Many minor in possession of alcohol or drugs
charges are handled in informal juvenile traffic Court in Torrance California. A Lawyer is necessary in all cases to ensure your son's or daughter's record remains clean.
Juvenile Court Proceedings
Whether in juvenile, family, probate, or dependency court, the juvenile is entitled to:
- The right to be represented by a Lawyer.
- The right to present witnesses on the juvenile's behalf.
- The right to subpoena, confront, and cross-examine witnesses.
- The right to a public hearing.
- The right to present evidence.
- The right to appeal.
If the juvenile could face prison time if adjudicated delinquent of the offense charged, he or she may be entitled to the appointment of an attorney if he is indigent. Juvenile court proceedings are usually sealed. The records are confidential and are not accessible to the general public. Some states do not automatically seal juvenile records. In that instance, the juvenile may have to request for his records to be sealed.
The juvenile does not have a right to a jury trial. However, if the juvenile is adjudicated delinquent, jeopardy has attached and the juvenile may be tried again for the same offense.
While the California adult correctional system was established with the goal of punishment, the juvenile justice system has a different goal: treatment and rehabilitation of juvenile offenders. Because of this, the state's juvenile justice system has a broad array of methods and programs for addressing juvenile crime, taking into account the severity of the offense and the background of the offender. These include fines, treatment programs, detention, incarceration, and community supervision. Generally, the system provides for escalating responses to offenses of increasing severity, such as informal probation, formal probation, detention, and incarceration. Additionally, because the system has a goal of rehabilitation, many more agencies have a role to play in California's Juvenile Justice System than in the adult system, including schools, social service agencies, and community-based organizations.
The Juvenile Justice Court gives police, probation officials, and the District Attorney broad discretion over the treatment of juvenile offenders. Upon arrest, the police can release the juvenile to his or her parents or take the alleged offender to juvenile hall.
The state legislature has recently modified the juvenile law (Proposition 21) so that a minor can be transferred from juvenile court to the adult court and tried as adult in specified serious or violent felony cases, even if the minor is as young as 14. In most juvenile crime cases a judge will determine when it is appropriate to make such a transfer, however, in certain serious juvenile criminal cases the prosecutor may directly charge a minor in adult court.
In the Juvenile Justice System, a minor has the same constitutional rights as an adult. For example, a minor is entitled to have their Miranda rights read to them as would an adult. Furthermore, a minor may invoke their Miranda rights and not make any statement unless they have an attorney present. Also, although a minor may request to have their parents present before any questioning by law enforcement, the police are not required to inform a minor of this before taking a statement or interrogating the minor. It should be noted that school officials, teachers, and counselors do not have to advise a minor of his constitutional rights before questioning unless they are doing so at the direction of the police.
A minor accused of a juvenile crime should retain an attorney for all proceedings in the juvenile court. And a minor is not entitled to a jury trial in juvenile court, only to an "Adjudication" (trial) in front of a judge. Though the burden of proof is the same for a minor in juvenile court as it is in adult court, that is, proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the minor committed the crime; the family of a minor accused of a crime should always consult with an attorney as the consequences can be serious and life-lasting.
Our office has helped many juveniles charged with crime. Recently we were able to get a Juvenile case completely dismissed in Los Angeles County Juvenile Court- Long Beach even though the juvenile was charged with robbery, gun charges and assault.
In another case in Inglewood Juvenile Court in Los Angeles County, Ca., our office was able to prevent a Juvenile theft case from being filed and in the same Court in Inglewood we were successful in having a child molestation case dismissed without the minor ever having to go to Court!
More recently, in early 2009 Matthew Ruff represented a juvenile in Inglewood Court on charges he committed a strong arm robbery against a fellow student in Torrance. Mr. Ruff would not allow the minor to be convicted of the offense which would be considered a serious felony strike that would stay with the young man for the rest of his life. Following very intensive negotiations with the District Attorney, he was able to work out a conditional dismissal of the case after completion of a small amount of community service.
Another example is a minor we represented in Los Padrinos Juvenile Court in Downey California. where the minor was facing charges including arson and assault with a deadly weapon, we negotiated a dismissal of the case which resulted in the charges being "erased" from the record. We can help your child as well.
You need a Juvenile Lawyer who knows how to FIGHT for your child!
School Expulsion Hearings
The California public school expulsion process can be an intimidating experience for you and your family without proper representation. Attorney Ruff has successfully represented many families throughout this process. An experienced Lawyer is essential
A student can be subject to expulsion for a variety of reasons which include drug use or possession, sales of drugs, violence, or other criminal acts and possession of weapons. For some of these offenses the education code requires expulsion. However, even for those offenses requiring expulsion in most cases the school board has the power to stop the expulsion by suspending the expulsion. This has the effect of keeping the child in the district although he will probably not return to the same school. The process for an expulsion is the following:
The student has a hearing in front of a panel of three teachers from within the district. This is like a trial except there are no rules of evidence and almost everything can be considered by the panel to include letters and other written statements. The student can either fight the offense and require the panel to make a finding of whether or not they think the student committed the offense or the student can admit fault and offer information in mitigation like letters of recommendation and statements by his parents. The student?s attorney can also question the district officials (usually the vice-principal from the student?s school) about their case. After hearing evidence from the district and the student and his family the panel makes a recommendation to the school board about what should happen to the student. Usually in cases where expulsion is required the panel will recommend to expel the student. This is because the panel is required to expel the student if they find he committed the offense. The school board, however, is not similarly bound.
The second step of the expulsion process is to appear in front of the school board. Usually, the school board only permits limited testimony and will rely on the testimony at the panel hearing in coming to a decision. However, Mr. Ruff usually tries to get as much testimony in as possible to include statements from the student expressing remorse if that is appropriate and possibly the parents. The attorney is then given the opportunity to make a closing argument. After that the board will go into deliberation and usually render a decision within a day or so.
The decision of a school district board can be appealed to the county board. School expulsion attorney Matthew Ruff can help you through this difficult process.
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