One of the most upsetting things that can occur to you as a parent is learning that your child has been charged with a juvenile strike. It can be a mix of anger at your child, worry about them, and concern about where to turn, making it a dilemma about what that means for your child’s future. It is crucial to retain a skilled Anaheim juvenile delinquency defense attorney who understands the California three-strike law and can represent your child effectively in a manner that minimizes the possibility of the minor facing life-altering penalties. The legal team at California Criminal Lawyer Group can aggressively review the evidence in the juvenile strike case to determine whether to build a defense for disposition or engage in plea bargain negotiations with the prosecution. After reviewing the evidence, they can also analyze your child’s previous convictions to determine if there are legal grounds for questioning their validity.

California’s Three Strikes Law

The three strikes law is a California sentencing system that prosecutes repeat defendants with more severe penalties. Penal Code 667 PC guarantees that defendants who commit a serious or violent crime face lengthy prison sentences. The sentences increase with every severe subsequent crime committed.

You become a second striker if you have one previous strike on your criminal record, and then the prosecution charges you with another felony. It means you will receive twice the maximum sentence for that offense.

You are a third striker if you have two (2) previous California convictions for severe or violent felonies and are currently charged with another violent or serious felony. In this case, you will spend 25 years to life in prison for the current criminal charge.

Custody Credits

California prison inmates earn custody credits for time served with good behavior. You get a one-day credit for every day in detention before your sentencing. The credits reduce the days a defendant remains detained after serving 50% of their sentence. Nevertheless, that does not apply to the three-strike laws.

Second or third strikers should complete eighty percent of their sentence before release. You could serve 85 percent of your sentence if found guilty of a violent felony.

You cannot serve your sentence simultaneously if you are a California striker convicted of multiple criminal activities in one case. Instead, you should serve one sentence after another. It applies if your charged criminal activities were committed at different times and are not part of the same case facts.

Understanding California's Juvenile Three Strikes Laws

The juvenile delinquency system is a legal system that does not punish young offenders in the California adult criminal justice system. Its goal is to discipline and rehabilitate minor children who are convicted. While this is true, a conviction for specific felonies can make your child face life-altering penalties, particularly if they have a previous conviction.

The juvenile delinquency law allows a judge to consider the juvenile’s previous conviction when determining the appropriate sentence after a conviction for the delinquent act. If the minor has a criminal record, the court will enhance the seriousness of the penalties they will likely face for the current crime under the three strikes laws (PC 667). It includes a commitment to the Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ).

Conditions that Make a Juvenile Crime Count as a California Strike

Per PC 667(d)(3)(a), a previous felony conviction can count as a California strike on your child’s criminal record for purposes of the three-strike laws. A juvenile conviction is a previous strike if:

  • The Underage Child was Sixteen Years or Older at the Time of the Offense

It means your child should have been older than 16 when they violated the law instead of when the court sentenced them as a ward or even convicted them. If the delinquency case follows the minor to adulthood, the court will not consider their conviction if they were below 16 at the time of the crime commission.

  • The Minor is a Ward of the Court

Being made a ward means the court takes over responsibility for treating and controlling the minor. When determining the wardship, the judge should consider the following:

  • The minor’s age.
  • The child's prior delinquent history.
  • The fact and seriousness of the crime the juvenile committed.

The court can order that the wardship last for a specific probationary duration or until further court order.

If your underage child commits a crime highlighted in Welfare and Institution Code 707(b), the court will place them on supervised probation. Some of the terms and conditions of probation include the following:

  • Attending school and not breaking truancy laws.
  • Driving limitations.
  • Refraining from specific individuals.
  • Putting on a monitoring device.
  • Welfare and Institution Code 707(b) Outlines the Offense as a Violent or Serious Felony

The crime is not a WIC 707(b) but is a violent or serious felony, and the judge sustained a WIC 707(b) crime in the same petition.

Welfare and Institution Code 707(b) Crimes

Welfare and Institution 707(b) crimes include the following:

  • Attempted murder or murder (PC 187a).
  • Arson with great bodily injuries or of an inhabitant structure.
  • Rape using violence, threats of great bodily harm, or force.
  • Sodomy using violence, threats of great bodily harm, or force.
  • Lascivious conduct against a minor below 14 with violence, threats of great bodily harm, or force (PC 288).
  • Oral copulation with violence, threats of great bodily harm, or force.
  • Kidnapping for robbery, ransom, or causing bodily harm.
  • Discharging a weapon into an occupied or inhabited building.
  • Assault using force that can cause great bodily injuries or using a destructive device or a firearm.
  • A violent felony against an individual who is disabled or over sixty.
  • Personal use of a weapon.
  • A felony criminal conduct in which your child used a firearm.
  • Dissuading witnesses or bribing witnesses.
  • Forcible sexual penetration.
  • Selling, compounding, or manufacturing at least eight (8) ounces of controlled substances.
  • A violent felony that constitutes a criminal gang enhancement.
  • Aggravated mayhem.
  • Voluntary manslaughter.
  • Kidnapping for carjacking or sexual assault.
  • Exploding destructive devices intending to murder somebody else.
  • Carjacking.
  • Drive-by-shooting.
  • Torture.

The Judge can Try Your Child in a California Adult Court

The prosecution can initiate a transfer court hearing when a child violates a crime outlined in Welfare and Institution Code 707(b).

When determining whether your child should remain in juvenile court, the judge should consider the factors below:

  • The level of criminal knowledge the juvenile exhibited.
  • Whether the juvenile delinquency system can rehabilitate the child before the juvenile court's jurisdiction expires.
  • Whether prior court attempts to rehabilitate the juvenile were successful.
  • The child's previous delinquent record.
  • The seriousness and facts of the case indicate that the minor committed.

If the judge finds the minor unfit for California juvenile court, they will refer them to the district attorney (D.A.) for prosecution as an adult.

If you want to challenge the transfer determination, you should bring a writ petition within 20 days after your child's arraignment (initial court hearing).

There are advantages to having your child in a California juvenile court. Your defense lawyer can help you weigh your options and make an informed decision. These benefits include the following:

  • The interests of your child, the victim, and society guide the juvenile court’s decision.
  • The court will resolve the legal matter faster since the juvenile delinquency process is less time-consuming than the adult judicial process.
  • Your child is safe from exposure to adult defendants when the California juvenile delinquency system handles their case.
  • Having juvenile criminal records expunged is more effortless, giving them a fresh start.

Nevertheless, that does not protect your child from receiving a strike and facing penalties. That is why allowing the court to transfer their case to a criminal court can be wise. The benefits of being tried in an adult court include the following:

  • Your child can access bail — Your child does not have to remain detained until their case is determined. You can secure their release, provided you post bail. Bail guarantees they will comply with their release conditions, including making all court appearances.
  • The legal entitlement to a jury trial.
  • Sometimes sentences are shorter for severe felonies.
  • Plea bargaining is a possibility in adult court.

Deferred Entry of Judgment and California Juvenile Three-Strike Law

Deferred entry of judgment (DEJ) is a form of juvenile probation where a child admits to committing a California felony. Judgment is not entered or deferred, and the young offender should comply with specific terms and conditions. The probation period can be up to three (3) years.

DEJ is tailored for first-time nonviolent felony defendants, making it unavailable for juvenile three-strike convictions. The goal of granting DEJ is to impose probation conditions that rehabilitate your child and prevent them from committing a crime in the future.

Also, DEJ is unavailable if your child:

  • Admits to committing a WIC 707(b) crime.
  • Contests their charge at the jurisdictional court hearing (It applies even when their WIC 707(b) charge is not sustained).

Penalties for a California Juvenile Strike

Suppose the judge sustains a petition against your baby (finds the minor guilty). In that case, the judge will develop a sentence based on factors like past criminal records and the seriousness of the crime.

A judge has many options regarding dispositions (sentences). Penalties for a strike can include probation and confinement in the Division of Juvenile Justice Facility. Since the California delinquency system aims to rehabilitate the minor, the judge will impose a sentence to realize that goal.

However, your child can be taken to the Division of Juvenile Justice Facility only if:

  • The current crime is in WIC 707(b).
  • The juvenile is a ward.
  • The crime is a severe sex crime.

Plea Bargain Negotiations

A plea bargain is an agreement between the prosecution and the juvenile in a criminal case. Your child will plead guilty to a lesser crime in return for a lesser sentence or penalty agreed upon in advance.

The competent defense attorney in a juvenile case negotiates criminal charges with the prosecution. Like in adult court, charges in juvenile court cannot be dismissed or enhanced without the prosecutor’s consent.

Depending on the jurisdiction, negotiations can include the judge. During the negotiations, your child is entitled to have the same judge who took the admission determine the sentence (disposition).

One reason plea bargains resolve most cases is that the prosecutor’s deal offers more certainty for the accused. If the prosecution and the defense lawyer make a deal and the judge agrees, your child will know the case's outcome. Uncertainty can weigh heavily on a minor.

Plea deals are also more pocket-friendly, not only in terms of attorney fees but also because the juvenile can promptly return to their everyday routine.

Required Court Hearings Your Child Will Attend

As your minor child's criminal case proceeds, they should attend the following court hearings:

  • Detention hearing — After your child is arrested and detained, their initial hearing is a detention hearing. The hearing determines whether the juvenile should stay in custody pending the outcome of their case.
  • Transfer hearing — Also called a fitness hearing, a transfer hearing is when the judge decides whether to transfer the minor’s criminal charges to adult court.
  • Adjudication hearing —This is a trial before the judge in which the judge determines whether your child broke the law and should be disciplined. If they decide the minor violated the law, the judge will find the accusations true and sustain the petition the prosecution filed.
  • Sentencing (disposition) — If your underage child loses their adjudication hearing, they will move on to the sentencing phase of the process. If the judge has the information they need to make the sentencing decision during the adjudication hearing, the disposition hearing will occur once the trial concludes.

Getting a California Juvenile Strike Expunged

California criminal expungement is a process that petitions the court to review a conviction and allows defendants to withdraw their plea. The court enters a “not guilty” plea, dismisses the case, and sets the conviction aside. An expungement releases your child from all penalties and consequences arising from the sentence, giving them a clean start.

Expunging a juvenile criminal history will depend on the crime that led to the strike. You cannot expunge your child’s strike if:

  • The offense was a severe sex crime detailed in WIC 707(b).
  • The minor was over the age of 14 when he committed the crime.
  • The court requires the minor to register as a sex offender.

While your child can file an expungement petition, the judge is not guaranteed to grant the request.

Expunging a criminal record does not mean destroying it. Instead, the following can access it:

  • The prosecution team.
  • The probation agency.
  • The court, when the minor is found guilty of a subsequent felony.

Benefits of Juvenile Strike Expungement

There are several benefits to having a conviction expunged. Most crucial is that it will lead to peace of mind.

Additional advantages include:

  • Finding Work

Many employers carry out background checks before hiring an applicant. The background check includes reports of your arrest documents, convictions, and probation status.

After expungement, your criminal history will not appear during a background check. If potential employers ask about your previous conviction, you can legally answer “No.”

  • Securing Affordable Accommodation

Like employers, landlords perform background checks before allowing tenants to live on their property.

If they discover a criminal history, they could refuse your request or make you pay increased rent rates. After an expungement, it will be easier to apply for affordable housing.

  • Obtaining a Loan

Loans provide financial well-being after completing a sentence. Most loan providers deem those with a criminal history as potential defaulters. It can result in paying a higher loan interest rate or the provider denying your application.

Your credit score will not be affected by your juvenile conviction expungement.

  • Seeking Professional Licenses

Professions like doctors, nurses, lawyers, and real estate contractors need licenses to practice. Expunging your juvenile criminal record makes it easier to obtain a professional license.

  • Your Credibility as a Witness in Court

As a witness in a civil court, your credibility is crucial to the case's verdict. An opposing lawyer cannot use an expunged juvenile strike to question your credibility. Civil court proceedings involve family law, small claims, landlord or tenant cases, and probation.

Procedure for Expunging Your Juvenile Strike

Certain juvenile records can be sealed automatically after a minor attains a specified age. Other records need a petition to be filed in court. To obtain an expungement, your child should do the following:

  • File Their Petition

Your child should apply for their records to be sealed in court. The relevant forms are readily available but at a cost.

  • Wait For The Expungement

Generally, expungement takes a month to three (3) years. The juvenile court hearings automatically cease once the judge grants the petition and the court seals your record. If asked about their criminal history, your child can lawfully reply that they do not have any previous convictions.

Please note that expungement is not obsolete, and the expunged juvenile strike can be unsealed. For instance, a law enforcement agency could have your criminal data in their system, allowing them to perform background checks on you if necessary. Another example is when applying for a position with a law enforcement agency.

Frequently Asked Questions

Discussed below are some of the most commonly asked questions about California juvenile delinquency:

  • What are Your Rights as a Parent?

Having your child involved in the justice system can leave you feeling overwhelmed and helpless. Fortunately, the law provides you with rights.

Parental rights include:

  • The right to be informed of your minor’s arrest and detention.
  • You are entitled to know your minor’s constitutional rights.
  • The entitlement to confidentiality in your juvenile’s case.
  • The right to review your minor’s juvenile court records and probation reports.

Regarding the possibility of your juvenile being released into your care before the case’s outcome, the judge must weigh some determining factors, including the duty to safeguard the minor and the community.

  • What are Your Obligations as a Parent?

You also have certain obligations resulting from costs related to their minor’s juvenile case and disposition. They include:

  • Costs the county uses to feed the minor, treat, and cloth your child while in detention.
  • Attorney fees.
  • Cost of electronic monitoring.
  • Restitution.

You will be asked to complete an information form sent to Revenue Recovery. Then, the agency will mail a notice requiring you to contact it within twenty days to schedule your financial interview when restitution or fines are ordered. If you fail to attend or schedule your interview, legal action will be taken against you.

At the financial interview, the Revenue Recovery employee will analyze your financial information and determine if you can make monthly payments for restitution or fines. 

  • What is the Role of the Defense Attorney?

Your criminal defense lawyer serves various functions in your child’s case, including:

  • Establishing a robust defense strategy — Your attorney will formulate an effective legal defense strategy depending on your child's case facts. The process involves investigating case facts, reviewing law enforcers’ conduct, and analyzing evidence to identify gaps in the prosecutor’s case.
  • Your seasoned attorney offers guidance, ensuring you understand all steps of the legal process, including potential case outcomes, available legal options, and court procedure.
  • Protecting your child’s rights and ensuring they receive fair treatment — All defendants in California have constitutional rights, regardless of their age. Your attorney can work to uphold their legal rights.

Contact a Skilled Juvenile Delinquency Anaheim Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

When your child is charged with a crime in Anaheim, it is natural to be worried and concerned about their future. If the crime is a strike, they could even be convicted in adult court, and the offense could follow them throughout their life. Due to the severity of the penalties, hiring the California Criminal Lawyer Group is crucial. You can contact us at 714-766-0965. From the moment you contact us, your child is not a case number but our priority. We can work aggressively to keep your baby out of the adult judicial system and fight to protect their future, rights, and lives. We have many years of experience and the resources to handle even the most complicated criminal cases.