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When Juveniles Are Accused of Violent Crimes

By San Diego Attorney on May 30, 2024

A young man in handcuffs with his hands to his head in anguish.

If your child is facing any type of criminal charges, you will immediately want to find a defense attorney who has experience in the juvenile justice system. This is a serious situation that could cast a dark shadow on your child’s future.

The juvenile justice system is fundamentally different from the adult criminal system in its purpose and philosophy. While the adult system is largely designed to punish offenders, the juvenile system is structured around the concept of rehabilitation. But it is still a harsh environment, and you will want to do everything in your power to keep your kid from getting sent away.

Understanding the Juvenile Criminal Justice System vs. the Adult

One of the primary distinctions between the juvenile and adult systems is the terminology and procedures. In the juvenile system, proceedings are not called trials but adjudication hearings. And juveniles are not convicted – instead, they are found to have committed a delinquent act.

The juvenile system tends to be more flexible with sentencing options, focusing on rehabilitation efforts — such as counseling, community service, or placement in a juvenile detention center — rather than prison.

Additionally, juvenile records are typically more protected, and they may be sealed or expunged, minimizing the long-term impact on a young person’s future.

Juvenile proceedings are also often closed to the public to protect the minor’s identity. The juvenile system allows for a greater role of parents or guardians in the process, emphasizing family involvement in the rehabilitation process.

Common Violent Offenses Faced by Juveniles in San Diego

Juvenile offenders may be connected with a variety of violent crimes, and this can have serious consequences for their future.

The most common types of violent crimes committed by juveniles include assault, which can range from simple altercations to more severe physical attacks. Robbery, involving the use of force or intimidation to steal from someone, is another frequent offense. Juveniles may also be involved in more serious offenses such as homicide, which is the unlawful killing of another person, or sexual assault.

Understanding the nature of these crimes and the context in which they occur is a key component of the juvenile justice system’s approach to dealing with young offenders.

What Rights are Afforded to Juvenile Defendants in San Diego?

One of the most critical rights afforded to juvenile defendants is the right to legal representation. From the moment they are detained, juveniles have the right to a lawyer to defend their interests throughout the legal process. If a family cannot afford private counsel, the court will appoint a public defender or a court-appointed attorney to represent the young person.

A lawyer can guide the defendant and their family through the complexities of the juvenile justice system, advocate on their behalf, and work to secure the best possible outcome. Legal representation is also key in ensuring that any confessions or admissions made by the juvenile have been obtained lawfully and that they understand the consequences of their legal decisions.

Juvenile defendants are also granted several protections to ensure fairness during the legal process. Similar to adults, juveniles have the right to remain silent to avoid self-incrimination. They also have the right to a speedy trial and to confront witnesses against them.

Juveniles are likewise entitled to have their parents or guardians present during questioning and critical stages of the proceedings, providing them with support and ensuring that they understand the gravity of the situation. Parents or guardians are not only entitled to be present during legal proceedings, but their active participation is also often encouraged.

Parents can assist in the decision-making process, help their children understand the legal implications of their situation, and collaborate with legal counsel to ensure the best possible defense. The support a juvenile receives from their parents can greatly impact the outcome of their case, as it often influences the court’s perception of the juvenile’s stability and potential for rehabilitation.

Finding the Right Legal Strategy to Defend Your Child

Each legal strategy is tailored to the specifics of the case, with the aim of either exonerating the juvenile or reducing the potential penalties they face. Your defense attorney can scrutinize the legality and reliability of how evidence was collected, including the possibility of constitutional violations such as unlawful searches or improper interrogations. Your child’s lawyer may also challenge the admissibility of evidence that was obtained in violation of the juvenile’s rights.

The defense will assess witness credibility and examine whether alternative explanations could account for the evidence presented. It is also crucial to consider the context of the juvenile’s actions, looking for mitigating circumstances that might explain or justify their behavior.

When constructing a defense for juveniles, it is important to explore all applicable legal defenses. Common defenses include arguing that the act was done in self-defense, particularly if the juvenile believed they were in imminent danger and used force reasonably. Another frequent defense strategy is to challenge the intent element of the crime, asserting that the juvenile did not have the necessary state of mind to commit the offense.

Mistaken identity is also a potential defense, especially in cases where the evidence is circumstantial or relies heavily on eyewitness testimony, which can be unreliable. If a juvenile has been coerced into committing a crime or acted under duress, these factors can also be used to build a credible defense.

Contact a San Diego Juvenile Criminal Defense Lawyer

The outcome of a juvenile court proceeding can vary widely, and having the right defense lawyer in your corner can make a big difference. That is why you will want to contact Call jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys immediately if your child is facing charges in San Diego.

An experienced San Diego juvenile criminal defense lawyer at jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys is available 24/7 — we can pursue every legal opportunity for the dismissal of charges or alternative sentencing. Our founder James N. Dicks has earned a Client Choice Award from AVVO seven times!

Call (760) 630-2000 to schedule your FREE consultation with our San Diego criminal defense firm today.

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Posted in: Violent Crimes

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