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Los Angeles County Erases Juvenile Detention Fees

By San Diego Attorney on November 9, 2018

Being sent to juvenile hall has many consequences in California. The one most people worry about is the fact that the child now has a criminal record, and that record is not always sealed after he or she turns 18 or 21. But there is another consequence to being held in a juvenile facility: the family must often pay for the incarceration. This burden can be a real hardship for many families, and California banned new detention fees in 2009.

In Los Angeles County, the Probation Department went one step further by erasing past juvenile detention fees across the board in one sweeping motion.

Juvenile Detention Fees in Los Angeles

The Los Angeles County Probation Department was charging families for time spent in juvenile halls and probation camps. Juvenile halls cost $23.63 a day, while probation camps cost $11.94 per day. A 60-day sentence could cost over a thousand dollars for a struggling family. Long before the new law was passed, experts argued that these fees disproportionately penalized low-income families.

A statewide ban in 2009 eradicated juvenile detention fees, but the Department continued to charge families who had been paying prior to the ruling. The fees were profitable for the cities that charged them, and Los Angeles County was not the only one. The Los Angeles Times reported $129,000 in fees collected in 2017 alone.

In October 2018, Los Angeles County supervisors voted to stop collecting the old fees once charged to the families of incarcerated youth. Altogether, $89 million in juvenile detention fees was erased. The relief this new law will bring to families will be immense, but experts say there are other benefits, too.

What This Means for LA Families

For LA families, this means one more debt they no longer have to worry about. It means receiving a tax refund that may have been withheld if the taxpayer owed juvenile detention fees. For some, it means earning their whole wage without it being garnished. For others, it means not having a lien placed on their property. These are just a few measures the Los Angeles County Probation Department would take when a family had juvenile detention debt.

In addition to helping families financially, experts say there will be other benefits with the new law. Some say the elimination of the fee will strengthen the juvenile detention system as a place that truly rehabilitates youth, due to the fact that the new legislation is expected to reduce the amount of reoffending youths within the system.

It also eliminates a tax that was imposed mainly on minorities. African-American youth, as well as Latino youth, are overrepresented in the criminal justice system. As such, these families have been suffering the most from high juvenile detention fees over the years.

Does This Affect San Diego’s Juvenile Detention?

Unfortunately, while Los Angeles County and many other cities are eliminating old detention fees, San Diego is not one of them. While the county stopped collecting fees as the state law requires, past incarceration in Kearny Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility, East Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility, or Girls Rehabilitation Facility will still cost your family. The Western Center on Law & Poverty noted that San Diego was right behind Los Angeles with $63.0 million in outstanding detention fees.

There are other obvious consequences of being in juvenile hall. Minors may have a criminal record for the rest of their lives, which can permanently affect their ability to get housing or a job. They may also be excluded from other opportunities, such as federal funding or scholarships.

A criminal record can sometimes be expunged; however, individuals typically have to be 18 in order to get a record expunged or sealed. There may be a considerable amount of time before the minor is of the age to get his record sealed. Judges do not always grant these requests, meaning one mistake as a child really could follow someone around for the rest of his life.

The best way to avoid the consequences of a juvenile charge is to speak to a criminal defense attorney. jD LAW can go to work to have the charges dismissed and the case dropped. The best San Diego juvenile defense lawyers are those who have past experience with the system. Juvenile court has its own nuances and procedures, and an attorney needs to be familiar with them before arguing a case in court. James N. Dicks is a former LAPD narcotics investigator and a board-certified criminal law specialist, and he and his team have handled many cases in juvenile court.

While Los Angeles County made the right move by erasing these burdensome fees, being sent to juvenile hall is still hard on minors and their entire family. The situation may seem hopeless at first, but there is a way to avoid it. If your child was charged with a crime in San Diego County, call jD LAW at (760) 630-2000 to set up your free consultation. We are conveniently located right across from the Superior Court of North County on 400 S. Melrose Drive, Suite 109.

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