When your child commits a crime in California, the law enforcement officers may arrest and send them to a detention hall. If that is the case, you need to seek help from a skilled California criminal attorney. The attorney will ensure the law punishes the child as required.
However, if the case is a severe felony, the juvenile judge may decide to transfer the California criminal courts' hearings. Notably, the juvenile judge has the final decision on the transfer hearings. Therefore, if the judge finds the youth offender unfit for California juvenile court trial, he/she may decide to transfer them to criminal courts.
However, not every crime committed by your child will qualify for a transfer hearing. The crimes which are eligible for a transfer hearing must be listed under the California WIC 707. Notably, if your child committed a shoplifting crime, he/she wouldn't qualify for a transfer hearing since the offense isn't listed in the WIC 707.
However, if your child faces a transfer hearing in San Jose, CA, seek help from a skilled criminal attorney. At California Criminal Lawyer Group, we have helped countless youth offenders retain their juvenile cases.
California Juvenile System
In Los Angeles, minors are involved in criminal offenses, just like the other states in the US. The crimes committed by the children are similar to the crimes committed by the adult. However, the trials of minors and adults differ. In Los Angeles County, juveniles have a justice system with its primary goal being public safety.
However, several minors in the state face serious crimes, including rape, murder, Kidnapping, discharging a firearm, manslaughter, assault, and grand theft. The California juvenile system focuses on rehabilitating and treating the youth offenders, unlike in the adult system where the offenders are punished.
The state records so many minor felony arrests as compared to other states annually. Note that California has several methods and programs for addressing juvenile offenses. The procedures and programs are applied depending on the offender's background and the severity of the committed crime.
Notably, the programs include detention, rehabilitation, community work, and incarceration. The main goal of the juvenile justice system is to focus on the rehabilitation of youth offenders. Therefore the juvenile court allows other agencies to contribute to the rehabilitation process. For example, the court will allow schools and churches to rehabilitate minors.
The judicial process begins after the arrest of a minor. Just like the other offenders, law enforcement officers arrest a juvenile after committing any crime. If the case is minor, the arresting officer may decide to release your child.
Alternatively, if the case is severe, the law enforcement officer will send your child into the California juvenile hall. Note that the department will decide whether to book your child or not. Once the hall doesn't book your child, the youth offender will be under the police's charge. The department will only book your child if the case committed by the minor is a serious crime.
Since the state records a large number of violent minors, the juvenile halls remain overcrowded. Therefore the California probation department will not keep the youth offender if their case was non-violent. However, if your child is booked, the probation department will have the following two choices:
- Filing an appeal against your child.
- Remanding your child to adult criminal court as per the request of the state's district attorney.
However, if your child is adjudicated to the court and they sustain the petition, the child may be:
- Put in a foster care or group home.
- Sent to California youth authority
- Incarnated in a minors ranch or camp
- Placed on probation and then sent to the community later
Alternatively, if your child faces trial and sentence in the adult court, they will face imprisonment and later serve at juvenile justice division until they turn twenty-five.
The Legal Meaning of Transfer Hearings
Your child may engage in a crime without knowing the consequences of committing the crime. The minor's case may be determined at the juvenile court or criminal court, depending on its gravity. However, the California juvenile court will not determine every case involving a minor. Sometimes the juvenile judge transfers various cases to the California criminal court, where the juvenile will be sentenced as an adult. The exercise is known as transfer hearings.
During the court proceedings, the judges rule out whether to push a certain case that involves a serious crime from the youth court to the grown-up criminal justice. Therefore if the judge declares the minor doesn't qualify for the California juvenile system, they refer him/her to the adult court. However, most cases in California involving minors are tried in the juvenile courts. However, it's parallel for serious cases where the judge tries the minor in the adult courts. The process begins with the district lawyer.
Note that after listening to the case, the state's District Lawyer may request a child's transfer hearings. The judge has the final say on whether the juvenile court will transfer the case to the adult criminal court or not.
If the judge decides to try your child in the adult criminal courts, they may face an extended sentence in the grown-up prison. This tells why the transfer hearings are for serious cases. Notably, if your child faces a serious felony charge, you will need to seek assistance from the criminal defense attorney before the situation worsens. The competent attorney may prevent the transfer hearing to avoid hectic penalties to your loved child.
What Do The Judge Consider When Deciding a Transfer Hearing of a Minor to Adult Criminal Court?
The fact that your child committed a certain crime doesn't mean they will end up in the California criminal courts. The case committed by your child must meet certain requirements for the child to face a transfer hearing. Therefore, if your child commits a crime listed in the California WIC 707, the District Attorney may make a motion to transfer the case from the juvenile court to a criminal court. The motion may be set at the first court hearing or soon after. Note that the child won't proceed to trial or be declared guilty until the court decides whether they qualify for the juvenile system. The process may take several months.
If the juvenile court makes a transfer motion, they will order the Probation Department to report the minor's social history and behavioral patterns. The report may include;
- The offender's criminal history
- The offender's disciplinary and academic information
- Information presented by the parent about their behavior at home
- Prior services provided by the court or probation
A court hearing date is set for the probation department, district attorney, and the minor's counsel to present the evidence to the court. The judge will consider several elements before deciding whether to transfer your child's hearings to the grown-ups criminal courts. The following are the key elements the judge will consider:
- Your child's age and social background.
- Your child's intellectual development and psychological maturity
- The gravity of your child's case
- The extend and the nature of your child's prior delinquency history
- The available programs to rehabilitate and treat your child
- The child's previous treatments and how they responded to the treatments
Additionally, the juvenile judge will conclude whether the youth offender will respond positively to the available rehabilitation services. If the rehabilitative services don’t benefit the minor, the judge may transfer their case to the adult criminal court. Note that the state's District Attorney may start transfer hearings under the following circumstances:
- If the minor is aged 16 years and above and the alleged crime is a felony listed in WIC 707(b).
- If the minor is 18 years old, he/she is apprehended for a criminal offense they engaged in at their age of fourteen or fifteen years old. The crime must be listed in the WIC70(b).
Therefore most prosecutors in California push for a juvenile transfer hearing when the crime in question is stated under WIC707 (b). Notably, the hearing happens between the minor's detainment and adjudication trial. The California laws require the prosecutor to provide the child with a five-day notice of their transfer hearings.
For instance, the police arrest James, aged 16 years, for committing shoplifting in a retail store. The police officers have never arrested James before. His parents filed a petition in the California juvenile court. Therefore the judge will not initiate a transfer hearing for James because the alleged crime is not a felony. Additionally, shoplifting is omitted in the WIC 707(b).
Alternatively, the law enforcement officers arrest Johnson for committing arson. The behavior resulted in severe physical injuries to an adult. Note that arson, which results in great physical injuries and damages, is a felony in California, which may trigger transfer hearings. Johnson had previously committed a felony crime with similar gravity. The prosecutor realizes Johnson hasn't benefited from rehabilitation. Therefore the judge will make a final ruling to transfer Johnson's hearing to the criminal court.
Crimes Committed by Minors In California and Tried in Adult Courts
A child may commit a crime, either minor or severe crimes. The youth offender committing a petty crime will not be tried as an adult. However, the youth offender who commits serious crimes may end up in the criminal courts. Under California WIC code 707, several crimes that may subject a child to transfer hearings are mentioned. If the minor violates a crime listed in the law, the district attorney will initiate transfer hearings. The offenses are:
- Torture which results in significant injuries to someone and causes extreme suffering and pain.
- Attempted murder and murder: if the child intentionally kills or tries to kill
- Arson leading to significant physical injuries: intentionally burning a land, structure, and property resulting in significant physical injuries
- Robbery by use of threats, force, or violence
- Kidnapping which results in physical injures
- Kidnapping to commit ransom.
- Rape using force, threat, or violence
- Sexual penetration using force
- Sodomy using threats, force, or violence
- Assault using a firearm: if the child shoots someone intending to cause injury or death.
- The assault results in significant injuries
- Lewd acts or lascivious with a child aged 14 years and below using force, violence, or threats of harm
- Oral copulation using threats, violence, or force
- The offense listed under PC 1203.9 against elderly or disabled people
- Voluntary manslaughter: driving with gross negligence, which causes someone's death.
- Kidnapping with the aim of sexual assault
- Carjacking using a deadly or dangerous weapon to take someone's car while they are in it
- Aggravated mayhem
- An explosion of destructive devices to commit murder.
- Escaping from juvenile detention hall, forestry camp, camp, ranch, or young home using force or violence, mainly if it results in significant physical injuries
- Violent felony described under PC 667.5 assisting or committed as a gang member: if the child was working closely with a group of gangs to commit a violent felony like robbery, murder, or carjacking.
- Manufacturing, compounding, or processing solutions of controlled substances are listed as "depressants," such as morphine, hydrocodone, opium, cocaine, among others.
- Bribing or dissuading a witness as described under PC 136 and 137
Can You Appeal Against The Ruling of The Court?
Like the other offenders, a youth offender may file an appeal against the judge's decision. With the help of a skilled criminal attorney, you may appeal against the ruling of the court. Note that the impacts of the crimes mentioned above are very harsh to the offender. Therefore the youth offender is likely to receive harsh sentences if they are tried in the juvenile court. It will serve justice interests if the child is tried at the California criminal courts for the adults. By doing so, the minor will receive the sentence, which befits their case's gravity. Note that trying a minor at the adult courts would have impacts on their life. That is why their family members need to appeal to challenge the judge's decision with the assistance of an attorney.
The court holds the juvenile transfer hearings to determine whether the child can face their trial at the juvenile court. Once the minor loses the transfer hearings, the judge will transfer their case to California adult criminal courts. Therefore the parents will watch their loved child serve their sentence in the criminal prisons. However, if you appeal against the court, you will have an opportunity to challenge the presiding judge that your child will benefit much from serving in the juvenile system.
The minors have 20 days after the arraignment to appeal against the court's decision in a youth court. Therefore the parents have several days to seek assistance from a California Attorney who will help keep the child's case in the youth offenders' court. Due to the case's gravity, a criminal lawyer is essential in the case. Note that the attorney should be familiar with the California juvenile system. He/she should also convince the court that the minor should be adjudicated in California juvenile court.
However, you and your attorney may apply specific criteria to keep your child out of adult jail. For instance, expert testimony is essential when persuading to retain a minor in the juvenile court. The court may allow a psychologist to evaluate the mental health and provide mitigating factors that support the court to maintain the child in the youth court:
- Lack of maturity
- Emotional and mental health problems
- Inability to understand the consequences and risks of committing crimes
- Lack of intellectual capacity
- The effect of an adult, familial, and peer pressure on the child's behavior
Therefore the experts in the rehabilitation center will identify the rehabilitative services available for the juvenile system. Additionally, they will consider the child's services that the child won't receive once transferred to the adult courts. For instance, they will consider:
- Substance/alcohol abuse treatment
- Protection from adult abuse
- Appropriate counseling for the childhood trauma
What Happens If Your Child Loses The Appeal?
A minor may lose his/her appeal just like the other offenders. For instance, the minor may lose the appeal when their case is severe and have a criminal record. Therefore the case is sent to the California adult courts, and the minor is subjected to harsh penalties like the adult offenders. However, the child may receive favor from this.
In the criminal court, everyone has the right to receive fairness in their trial, even the youth offenders. In the grown-up courts, the judge tries the youth. Notably, he/she listens to the involved parties before making a ruling. Therefore the adult court may not find the youth offender guilty of the alleged crime despite the available evidence. With their criminal defense lawyer’s help, the youth may plot a defense strategy to fight the charges.
Note that judges in the criminal adult court are sympathetic to the youth offenders than the grown-up offenders. To make a final decision about the minor's case, the judges will look for more evidence. Therefore the child wouldn't receive harsh penalties even after the court finds them guilty of the alleged crimes. Moreover, the jury may sentence them to a less severe punishment than they deserve when the prisons are overcrowded. Alternatively, if the judge isn't willing to send your child to jail, he/she may rule their case and put them on a favorable sentence.
Life Without Parole and Death Penalties for Youth Offenders In California
A youth offender will have their case determined in the California juvenile courts through a criminal defense attorney. The penalties in the juvenile court aren't as harsh as in the adult courts. In a juvenile court, the juvenile judge will have several options for treatment and sentence, including community service, rehabilitation, drug testing, and counseling. The services aren't available in the adult courts. Note that even when the penalties are severe for the youth offenders, a youth facing conviction in the adult court will never face a life sentence without parole or face a death sentence. The California law declares the great punishment of minors as jail time for several years.
What Are The Effects of Trying Juveniles As Adults?
There are fundamental differences between the brain of an adult and that of a child. Children are less able to control their behaviors and resist peer pressure. Additionally, the child may not understand the laws of the juvenile system. Thus they will have less participation in the court proceedings, which may affect their future. Since the youth's brains are growing, teenagers engaging in criminal behavior may grow out of the action without court intervention. Notably, the rehabilitation needs for children differ from those of adults.
Therefore there are several differences between minors and adults. Although the two systems are targeted at protecting the public, the adult system is more punitive. Alternatively, the juvenile system is more of rehabilitation and treatment. For example:
- The juvenile adjudications don't count as a criminal conviction and don't disclose on a job application. However, if the youth offender faces conviction in the adult court, the sentence is a public record that must be disclosed and negatively marked on a job application.
- A youth offender in the juvenile court doesn't spend their time in prison. However, if the youth offender faces conviction in the adult court may be sent to serve in state prison.
Find A California Criminal Lawyer Near Me
If law enforcers arrest your child in San Jose, CA, and the child is facing transfer hearings, you need to seek help from a competent attorney to help retain the child's case in the California juvenile court. By doing so, your child will face appropriate sentence options in juvenile court.
At California Criminal Lawyer Group, we are here to help. We have experienced criminal attorneys familiar with the state's juvenile laws. If you live in or around San Jose, call us today at 408-622-0204 and speak with one of our attorneys.