Law Offices of Jess C. Bedore III - Certified Specialist in Criminal Law
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How the juvenile justice process works

When police arrest a child, different laws apply to the way the child is treated by the justice system. The juvenile justice process, for example, gives police the discretion to take the accused juvenile to juvenile hall -- where he or she will be detained -- or return the child the parents.

Most California juvenile halls are particularly overcrowded with juveniles who have been accused of violent criminal offenses. As such, only the juveniles accused of the most the most violent crimes may be detained. The rest could be turned away by the juvenile hall and sent back to the parents to await trial proceedings.

In some cases, after the juvenile is accused, the district attorney or probation department will decide to file a petition against the child in juvenile court -- which is similar to filing criminal charges in adult court. Alternatively, the district attorney might ask to "remand" the juvenile to adult court due to the seriousness of his or her offenses and his or her level of maturity.

In California, county probation departments manage the probations of 97 percent of convicted juvenile offenders. The rest are handled by the state of California's Youth Authority.

Just because a juvenile is accused of a crime does not mean that he or she will be convicted of the offense. Every child accused of a crime -- just like every adult -- has the right to be represented by a criminal defense lawyer. Until the child is proved to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in court, he or she will not face conviction or punishment for his or her alleged crimes.

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