New Law Helps Juvenile Offenders Escape Lifetime Consequences
Making mistakes is part of being young, as trying and failing is the only way to learn. However, when youthful mistakes involve criminal charges, the consequences may last for a lifetime. Whenever criminal charges are on the line, working with an experienced criminal defense attorney that will take the time to investigate and build a strong defense to combat these allegations is crucial. Juvenile convictions can be especially hard on both the defendant and his/her family as they are often forced to foot the bill for many of the punishments imposed by the court. Lawmakers recognized the unfair burden this system placed on many families, and passed a number of bills as part of a general criminal system reform package, recently signed into law by the governor, that will relax punishments and fines for juvenile offenses. A brief overview of some of the new changes that will directly impact how juveniles are treated in the criminal system will follow below.
Sealing of Records
One of the harsher realities of juvenile offenses is having that mark on one’s criminal record for a lifetime. Under the new law, the situations when a juvenile’s record must be sealed now include:
- when a petition is dismissed, though prosecutors have six months to request access to the records for the purpose of re-filing the petition based upon new circumstances; and
- when a juvenile successfully completes a diversion or supervision program. If the probation office refuses to seal the record based upon claims the juvenile did not stay in compliance with the program’s requirements, he/she can petition to seal the record by proving successful completion did occur.
In addition, a companion law will permit courts to seal records of juveniles adjudicated for serious and violent offenses after the age of 14 if the charges were later reduced to a misdemeanor.
Youth Offender Parole Process
Defendants sentenced to life in prison or for a substantial number of years before the age of 23 are subject to a different parole process due to the young age when they were incarcerated. Under the new law, the youth offender parole process is extended to individuals 25 years or younger, and sets dates by which these hearings would need to occur for the new group of individuals now eligible for this program.
When a minor is deemed to be a ward of the state due to criminal activity, the family is expected to cover many of the costs associated with monitoring and housing their children. Under the new law, families would no longer be responsible for the following expenses:
- application and administrative fees for enrollment in a home detention program, routinely offered in lieu of jail time;
- drug testing for those under 21; and
- costs for transportation to a juvenile facility or institution and for housing, food and care.
Consultation with an Attorney
Police have the authority to take minors into custody if they suspect they were involved in criminal activity, and while law enforcement is required to advise a minor of his/her rights prior to questioning, there are often significant concerns around a minor’s ability to understand the importance of these rights or how to assert them. A new law seeks to address the problem by requiring juveniles 15 years old and younger to consult with an attorney before they may be questioned or waive any right. The consultation cannot be waived, and failure to provide an opportunity to communicate with an attorney would impact admissibility in a criminal proceeding of any statement made.
Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney
Protecting your rights in the face of criminal charges is the number one priority of people accused of crime, but this protection is even more important when the person accused is a child. The long-term implications are very serious, and an experienced criminal defense attorney is critical to limiting or eliminating the possible effects of a conviction. The Manshoory Law Group, APC represents clients in the Los Angeles area, including juvenile offenses, and knows how to create a tailored approach to get you the best possible result. Attorneys are available 24/7 to take your call. Contact us today for a free consultation.