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Vista Juvenile Crime Defense Lawyers


Defending Juveniles Throughout North County

Parents want the best for their children, so when your child ends up on the wrong side of the law, you need to act fast to get them the best defense possible. There are many situations in which your teenager could be charged with a crime, ranging from a DUI to shoplifting to drug possession. Even though California courts enforce lighter punishments for minors, an adjudication can have a significant impact on your child’s future.

If your child was arrested in Vista on criminal charges, you should immediately contact jD LAW. Our North County defense team has more than 30 years of experience and knows how to handle these cases delicately. Our lead Vista juvenile defense attorney can advocate for a complete dismissal or the lightest punishment possible. Do not wait. Call us today at (760) 630-2000 to discuss your child’s situation in a free case evaluation.

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Common Juvenile Charges in Vista

Whether due to peer pressure, negative influences like local gangs, poor education, or a simple mistake, it is easy for teenagers to end up on the wrong side of the law. Teenagers often act out during difficult times in their lives and can take things too far. In most cases, these crimes involve simple property damage, but every situation should be taken seriously -- it can impact your child’s future.

The common cases involving juvenile defendants in North County are:

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What Happens When a Minor Is Arrested in North County?

Those under 18 are expected to follow all the same laws as adults, and the police can arrest a minor if they suspect he or she has committed a crime. But, just like with adults, the police must follow specific procedures.

In most cases, if there was no property damage and no one was hurt, the officer may let the minor off with a warning and stern lecture, but not file charges. However, the officer can also:

  • Cite your child for a crime.
  • Send your child to an agency that will handle your child’s case.
  • Release your child but require him/her to come back to the police station.
  • Require both you and your child to return to the police station, also called a “Notice to Appear.”
  • Place your child in juvenile detention.

If the police do detain your child, then they are required to contact you as soon as possible. Juvenile defendants must also receive their Miranda Rights. Police officers cannot speak to a juvenile defendant under the age of 16 who has given up his Miranda Rights without allowing him to speak to a lawyer first.

If placed in juvenile detention, your child can make two phone calls within one hour of being arrested: one of which must be to a parent or guardian, the other can be to a lawyer. There are two juvenile detention halls in San Diego County: Kearny Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility and East Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility.

Most cases do not go this far, however. Instead, if the police require you to return to the police station, you and your child will have to meet with a North County probation officer. Based on the nature of your child’s arrest, the probation officer may:

  • give your child a stern lecture and let him/her go,
  • offer your child the chance to enter a volunteer program, or
  • send your child’s case on to the district attorney.

The district attorney will ultimately decide whether to charge your child with a crime in a juvenile delinquency court.

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The Consequences of a Juvenile Conviction

California utilizes a separate court system for juvenile cases. Here in Vista, the North County Regional Center houses the local juvenile delinquency court, where a judge or probation officer will oversee your child’s case. These courts focus on rehabilitating minor defendants, helping them make better life choices. Only minors who are 14 or older and have committed serious crimes, such as rape, drug trafficking, or murder, can be charged in an adult court.

However, it is always important to have a skilled attorney represent your child. The juvenile court may sentence your child to community service, allow them to enter a diversion program or youth camp, or imprison them at a juvenile detention hall. More serious charges lead to longer sentences and harsher restrictions, including juvenile probation. Also, colleges and universities can see these records during background checks, which could influence your child’s future.

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Do Not Wait – Protect Your Child’s Future

If your child was arrested in Vista, you need to get an experienced legal team as soon as possible. At jD LAW, our Vista criminal defense lawyer can get started on your child’s case immediately. Even if the potential punishments are less harsh than they would be for an adult, your child should not have to go through a wrongful conviction for a mistake. Let us defend them. Call jD LAW's Vista office at (760) 630-2000 to get a free case evaluation.

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James N. Dicks

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A note from James N. Dicks:

If you feel uncomfortable with an in-person meeting due to the recent surge in COVID-19, our office is offering remote appointments via phone and Zoom. Please call or email us to set up your appointment.


James N. Dicks
jD LAW, P.C.

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COVID-19 Announcement

If you feel uncomfortable with an in-person meeting due to the recent surge in COVID-19, our office is offering remote appointments via phone and Zoom. Please call or email us to set up your appointment.

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