Minors under the age of 18 usually face criminal charges in a juvenile court. The juvenile process is different from adult criminal courts, and you will want to work with a San Diego criminal defense attorney experienced with this unique area of law. Unlike adult courts, there is typically an emphasis on rehabilitation and education for juvenile offenders.
Types of Juvenile Offenses
There are two primary types of juvenile offenses that a San Diego criminal defense attorney deals with:
- Status Offense: A status offense is an act that would be legal if not for the juvenile's age. For example, a minor may be accused of the status offense of underage drinking or driving. Status offenses are considered less serious offenses; however, you will still want the assistance of a San Diego criminal defense attorney to defend the charge.
- Delinquency Crimes: A delinquency crime is an act that would be considered an offense regardless of age. For example, a San Diego criminal defense attorney may assist in a delinquency crime of assault and battery, theft, burglary, and robbery.
The juvenile process is unlike an adult criminal court as the minor is not entitled to a jury trial. Instead, a San Diego criminal defense lawyer will present the juvenile's case before a juvenile court judge or commissioner.
As with a criminal court, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the minor committed the crime. As a result, a San Diego criminal defense lawyer may present many of the same defenses as would be available if an adult had been charged with the crime.
Keep in mind that there are some serious crimes where a juvenile may be charged as an adult. For example, a child accused of rape or murder could be charged as an adult and could face a hard time in an adult prison.
Contact California Law Centers
If you or your child has been charged with a crime as a juvenile, you should get help immediately. Contact San Diego criminal defense lawyer James V. Hairgrove at 619-667-3743 to discuss the details of your case.