Sacramento Criminal Lawyer

Juvenile Crimes in Northern California

When a minor gets in trouble with the law in the state of California, they go through a different system than adults. Legal proceedings occur in juvenile delinquency court, which has its own terminology and procedures that differ from adult court. If your child has been charged for a crime, make sure to speak to a Sacramento criminal lawyer immediately.

What Happens When a Minor is Arrested?

There are several things that may occur when an underaged individual gets in trouble with the police. Upon arrest, any of the following may happen:

  • Make a record of the arrest and release the individual
  • Send the individual to an agency that will care for or counsel the underaged person
  • Demand the individual come back to the police station, called being “cited back”
  • Give the individual a “Notice to Appear.” This article contains details of the arrest and when to appear in court.
  • Place the individual in juvenile hall, called “detention.” The individual will be allowed to place two phone calls. One call must be to a parent, guardian, relative, or boss. The other call must be to a lawyer.

The arresting officer is required to alert the individual’s parents or guardians of the arrest and the rights of their juvenile. Like adults, the minor must be alerted to his or her Miranda rights if the police want to discuss the events that occurred. Miranda rights in California are as follows:

  • The arrested individual has the right to remain silent.
  • Anything said can be used against the arrest individual in court.
  • The arrested individual has the right to an attorney. If the individual cannot afford one, the court will appoint one.
  • The arrested individual has the right to an attorney that is prepared and effective in court.

Getting a Notice to Appear

It’s important to read the Notice to Appear very carefully with the assistance of a Sacramento criminal lawyer. Usually, it requests the arrested individual to go to the probation department and meet with a probation officer. There are a variety of ways the meeting can go. The officer may do any of the following:

  • Lecture the individual then release him or her.
  • Allow the individual to do a voluntary program instead of going to court. This program could include classes, counseling, community service, etc. Upon completion of the program, the individual would not have to go to court. There may be a contract involved that can last up to 6 months.
  • Send the individual home and send the case to the district attorney, who will then decide whether to file a petition. Filing a petition would mean the case would go to court.
  • Put the child in custody and send the case to the district attorney, who would then most likely file a petition to take the case to court within 2 days. The individual would have a detention hearing the next day court is open, which is only on non-holiday weekdays.

Juvenile Court Proceedings

There are several hearings the arrested individual may attend during the course of a legal case, such as:

  • Detention hearing – This hearing is used to determine whether the individual must stay in juvenile hall (detention).
  • Fitness hearing – This hearing determines whether the child’s case will be heard in juvenile delinquency court or be transferred to adult court.
  • Adjudication – If the case remains in juvenile delinquency court, this is the “trial.” The case is conducted in front of a judge instead of a jury.
  • Disposition hearing – If the judge agrees with the case against the arrested individual, there is a disposition hearing, when a sentence is given out.

If your minor has been arrested and charged with a crime, seeking the legal expertise of a Sacramento criminal lawyer is the best thing you can do to ensure the future of your child isn’t jeopardized.


When an underaged individual breaks the law, several considerations are taken into account, such as:

  • The age of the offender
  • The seriousness of the crime
  • The individual’s criminal record

There is a wide variety of orders the court may give depending on the circumstances. Some of those orders may include that:

  • The individual live with their guardian under court supervision.
  • The individual be put on probation. This may affect where the individual can live.
  • The individual be put on probation and sent to a probation camp.
  • The individual be sent to juvenile hall. For the first 30 to 60 days, the underaged individual will go to a “reception center” where it will be determined what kind of education or treatment the individual requires.


In the best situations, the minor will be sentenced to probation. Probation may include following certain rules regarding any of the following aspects:

  • School attendance
  • Curfew
  • Counseling
  • Community service
  • Making restitution to the victim

Trying Minors in Adult Court

Keep in mind that minors still may be tried as adults under certain circumstances. The three-strike law determines that some serious and violent crimes committed by minors may count as strikes in the future, even when records are sealed. A child who is 14 years or older can be tried as an adult when the alleged crime is very serious, such as for cases involving the following:

  • Murder
  • Attempted murder
  • Setting fire to an occupied building
  • Armed robbery
  • Rape
  • Kidnapping
  • Carjacking
  • Crimes involving firearms
  • Drug crimes
  • Escaping from a juvenile detention facility

When an underage individual is tried in adult court, he or she could be sent to adult prison after turning 16. If the individual is under 16 during the trial, the first part of the sentence will be served in juvenile hall. If an underage individual is sentenced to time in adult prison but will be under 21 by the end of the sentence, the judge may permit the entire sentence to be served at the juvenile detention center.

Seeking Legal Advice

It is very important to be properly represented in the court of law by a skilled Sacramento criminal lawyer. This can make a huge difference in the outcome of the case. With an underage individual’s entire future on the line, it’s imperative to seek knowledgeable legal advice from a group that will fight for their clients.

Call a Sacramento Criminal Lawyer If Your Minor Has Been Arrested & Charged

As a former Sacramento County prosecutor, Richard Dudek has the knowledge and experience in criminal defenses. Contact the Law Offices of Richard Dudek at (916) 444-7595 to speak to a Sacramento criminal lawyer today.


The Law Offices of Richard Dudek offers comprehensive criminal defense from the beginning of your case through the final appeal. Let our Sacramento criminal lawyer defend your rights. Contact us online or by telephone at (916) 444-7595 to arrange a personal consultation with Richard Dudek today.

901 H Street, Suite 310
Sacramento, CA 95814 US
Phone: (916) 444-7595

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