If your child has been picked up by the police for delinquent conduct, and a probation officer or district attorney decided to file a petition in juvenile court, then you need to contact an experienced juvenile attorney right away. When an officer or prosecutor files a petition, your child is essentially facing criminal charges. Your adolescent will have to go through the California juvenile court process. If their alleged conduct is determined to be true, they may be labeled a status offender or delinquent.
The best way to avoid a finding of delinquent conduct is to work with a Fresno juvenile attorney from Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer as soon as possible. Delinquent conduct can come with harsh consequences for your child. Attorney Mike McKneely will fight for your child to avoid a stigmatizing label, and to receive the minimal appropriate penalties for their behavior.
Call Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer today at (559) 443-7442 for a free and confidential case consultation.
When an Adolescent May be Deemed Delinquent
Delinquency is a serious label, and it is not something a police officer, teacher, administrator, or social worker can decide. An adolescent must be adjudicated delinquent through California’s juvenile court process. This is similar to an adult being found guilty at trial.
For a teen, a judge determines during a jurisdiction hearing whether the petition against the teen is true or not. If the evidence supports the petition being true, then the child may be deemed a status offender or delinquent. Both of these outcomes mean the teen will have a record, and during a disposition hearing, the judge decides the teen’s punishment.
Status Offenses in California
The labels of status offender and delinquent mean two different things. A status offense is something that is inappropriate for a teenager to do, yet would not be illegal if they were an adult. This includes actions such as running away, skipping school, breaking curfew, and disobeying their parents. If a child is deemed a status offender, they become a ward of the court and can face a number of punishments.
Delinquency in California
An adolescent can be labelled delinquent if their actions would have been a crime if they were an adult. This could be a misdemeanor such as assault, shoplifting, alcohol possession, drunk driving, or marijuana possession. It could also be a felony, like aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, homicide, sexual assault, or vehicle theft.
If your child is facing a petition for delinquent behavior, contact Fresno juvenile attorney Mike McKneely as soon as possible. Delinquent conduct can lead to harsh consequences that disrupt your son or daughter’s education, and hinder their future.
Consequences of Delinquent Conduct
The consequences of a status offense or delinquent conduct depend on a number of factors like what the conduct entailed, the teen’s mental and physical health, the family situation, and their history in the juvenile justice system. Certain factors can mitigate the situation, prompting leniency. However, there may be aggravating factors that lead to more serious penalties.
A judge can order various penalties:
- Informal probation. This typically involves the child returning home and being required to follow certain probation conditions.
- Formal probation. This can last longer than informal probation, requiring formal supervision by a probation officer. The teen may be able to live at home, and will have to adhere to a number of conditions.
- Probation outside of the home. In some cases, your teen may be sentenced to probation and be required to live at a foster home, group home, or institution. This can occur if there are issues at home. The teen may also be ordered to complete probation elsewhere due to a threat to their health or safety with their parents or previous guardians.
- A juvenile camp or ranch. A harsher form of probation is when the teen is required to go to a juvenile camp or ranch for a period of time before returning home or to another living situation.
- Detention. The harshest punishment possible for delinquent conduct is to be sent to a California Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) facility. Your child may be sentenced to a specific period of time in the facility or to an unspecific period of time, which may end based on their behavior and other factors. Depending on the age of your child when they are adjudicated as delinquent, they can be held in state custody until they are 25 years old.
Probation Conditions and Other Penalties
If your child is sentenced to some form of probation, there may be a number of conditions attached to it, such as:
- Fully attending school
- Following a curfew
- Paying court fees or fines
- Paying restitution to victims of their delinquent behavior
- Completing a certain number of hours of community service
- Completing alcohol or substance abuse treatment
- Attending counseling
- Electronic monitoring or other movement restrictions
As a parent, you may also face consequences of your child’s delinquent behavior. You may be required to ensure your child completes these probation conditions. You may also be required to attend parenting classes.
Let a Fresno Juvenile Attorney Help
If you are an adolescent who is in trouble with the law, or a parent whose teen was picked up by the police and taken to a juvenile facility, then it is time to work with an experienced and tenacious juvenile defense attorney from Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer.
Attorney Mike McKneely has more than 15 years of legal experience, spending the past decade as a criminal defense attorney fighting for his adult and juvenile clients’ best interests. He will thoroughly review your child’s case. He will offer an objective opinion about the best next steps while always protecting your child’s rights.