WHAT TYPES OF CASES DO WE HANDLE IN OUR JUVENILE OFFICE?

There are two types of Juvenile cases handled by our Juvenile Office.

Delinquency cases which involve children accused of a criminal offense. (Children up to the age of eighteen years of age). Our office represents the children in these actions.

Dependency cases which involve cases where the child/children’s parents or guardians are accused of neglecting and/ or abusing their children. Our office represents both the parents and children. As our office administers a panel of independent lawyers, our office provides independent representation for both parents and children in these matters.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A CHILD IS ARRESTED?
When a child is arrested for an alleged crime, the police officer has three options. The first option is to treat the case informally, work out an informal diversion contract with the parents and youth and keep the matter out of the Juvenile Justice system. The second option is to release the child to his/her parents with a promise to appear for an arraignment at a later date. The case would then be referred to the San Mateo Probation Department for processing.The third option is to transport him/her to the Youth Services Center (commonly known as Juvenile Hall) When your child is arrested should you have any questions as to what happens next please call our office at 650 312-5396 for further information.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN MY CHILD IS BOOKED INTO JUVENILE HALL?
After your child is booked into juvenile hall the San Mateo County Probation Department will conduct an assessment to determine whether or not they will be released with a promise to appear or detained. If they are released they will be given a court date for a future court appearance. If your child is detained the district Attorney’s office must file a petition against them within 48 hours oftheir arrest or they must be released. This does not count days when the court is not in session. NO BAIL is allowed in Juvenile Court. Once a petition is filed, the minor has a detention hearing where a Judge will determine whether or not he/she will be released.
WHAT HAPPENS AT A DETENTION HEARING?

At the detention hearing the Judge must decide whether or not to continue to hold the child in custody or release them. If you have not hired an attorney to represent your child the Private Defender Program will be appointed at this time to represent him/her. You will be notified by the Probation department of the time and place of the hearing. You may call our office at 650 312-5396 to find out the name of the attorney representing your child and their contact information. At the detention hearing the Court will advise the child of his/her rights and set the matter for a pretrial conference and/or a jurisdictional hearing.

WHAT IS A PRETRIAL CONFERENCE?

At a pretrial conference the judge, the district attorney and your child’s attorney will informally discuss the case to see if a resolution can be reached. If a resolution is reached the minor will admit the allegations of the petition and the case will be set for a dispositional hearing. If a settlement is not reached the case will proceed to a jurisdictional hearing.

WHAT IS A JURISDICTIONAL HEARING?
A jurisdictional hearing isa hearing to determine the truth or falsity of the charges alleged in the petition. It is conducted in the same way that a trial is conducted in the adult court except that in juvenile court there is no right to a jury trial so the case is decided solelyby a judge. If the allegations are found not true, the petition is dismissed and the minor is eligible to have his records sealed immediately. If the allegations are found true, the case is continued for a dispositional hearing.
WHAT IS A DISPOSITIONAL HEARING?
A dispositional hearing is a hearing to determine what consequences the judge will impose. It is similar to a sentencing in adult court. The probation department will prepare a report and recommendation to the Court. The minor’s attorney will have the opportunity to present mitigatinginformation as well. They types of disposition are dependent on the seriousness of the charges, the prior record of the minor as well as performance in school, outside activities, etc.
ARE JUVENILE PROCEEDINGS CONFIDENTIAL?
Generally juvenile proceedings are strictly confidential. In most cases, court proceedings are closed to the general public only people with a sufficient interest in the case may be present in court. (This of course includes the child and his parents). Records of juvenile proceedings are also confidential. Although the child, the child’s parents, the child’s attorneys and representatives from certain agencies have the right to inspect juvenile files, most other people must file a motion with the juvenile court in order to inspect and disclose such records. Juvenile case files remain strictly confidential, unless the court finds a good reason for the file or parts of the file to be disclosed to certain individuals for a certain specific reason
ARE JUVENILE FINDINGS THE SAME AS ADULT CONVICTIONS?
No. A juvenile adjudication is not a conviction. Therefore the youth generally does not have to disclose a juvenile adjudication if asked if he or she has ever been convicted of a crime.
DO JUVENILE FINDINGS COUNT AS STRIKES?
Although juvenile adjudications generally are not considered criminal convictions, under current law, certain juvenile adjudications may nevertheless constitute a “strike” under California Three Strikes Law, if a youth subsequently finds himself/herself charged with a crime in adult court.Significantly not all charges that constitutes “strikes” in adult court are considered to be potential strikes in juvenile court. In general , a juvenile adjudication may be considered a strike in adult court only if the youth was 16 years of age or older at the time of the commission of the offense and then only for specific serious offenses.
HOW DO I GET MY CHILD’S RECORD SEALED?
If the minor was terminated from probation prior to January 1, 2016, an application for record sealing can be obtained from the probation department. The minor must be 18 years of age before filing the application. If assistance with this is needed call the Private Defender Office at 650 312-5396. The processing of the record sealing can take up to six months. If the minor was terminated from probation after January 1, 2016 the sealing process is much easier and quicker. For further information and assistance with this please call the Private Defender Officeat 650 312-5396
CAN A CHILD BE DIRECTLY CHARGED AS AN ADULT?
No. Before a child can be tried in the adult court they are entitled to have a hearing before a Juvenile Judge to determine whether or not their case will be transferred to the adult court orremain in juvenile court. These hearings are only done in the most serious of cases and in general for children over the age of 16.
MY CHILD, WHO IS UNDER 18, HAS BEEN ARRESTED AND NEEDS DRUG TREATMENT, MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT, OR SPECIALIZED EDUCATION. CAN THE PRIVATE DEFENDER HELP?
The Private Defender is involved in a number of collaboratives which can assist in addressing many of these issues. There are also programs available to youths to deal with problems involving drug abuse, mental health issues and specialized educational needs. These programs are provided through various state and county agencies and can be accessed by parents themselves or with the help of private advocates. If your child isrepresented by the Private Defender’s Office, pleas alert the lawyer your child’s drug, school or mental health needs so that our office can begin the referral process atthe earliest possible time. Also any records that you have which relate to these problems should be shown to the lawyer. If the Juvenile Court is not made aware of the problems, the source of a behavioral problem might go undiscovered and untreated, and the youth may not receive the full benefit of the resources available.
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