Many years ago most juvenile crimes were not severely punished. In fact, for most minor misdemeanors the arresting officer would cuff the youthful offender up alongside the head, cuss and scream at him for a respectable period of an hour or so, drive him around in the police cruiser for a while to scare the living daylights out of the youthful offender and then drop him home reporting the kid’s various vileness to the youthful offender’s parents who would further punish, restrict and humiliate the child for his errant judgment and deplorable behavior.
No more. Now the DA files a formal petition with the Juvenile Court, the lawyers assemble, the court convenes, a trial referred to as “a juvenile contest” is held, the minor if found guilty, now called “adjudicated to be a ward of the Court,” and the minor is placed on probation, sentenced to direct work or community service or actually incarcerated in the Juvenile Detention Facility.
For serious offenses and repeat offenders, the Juvenile Court is empowered to send the child to the custody of the California Youth Authority. Known as CYA, the California Youth Authority is actually, as the kids say, “gladiator school,” where they learn to lie, cheat, steal, act violently and mimic the behavior of their older brothers and sisters in the custody of the California Department of Corrections or State Prison.
In fact, California now allows children as young as fourteen years of age to be prosecuted “as adults” for aggravated violent crimes and then allows the court to sentence these children as adults to decades imprisonment. California does this to make us safe from crime. It doesn’t work, but it plays well to the untutored and provides many chest-thumping opportunities for politicians and the public employees who operate the system. The California Prison Guard Union is the second most powerful lobbying force in California (with the California Medical Association running a distant second) so it is little wonder that juvenile crime and juvenile arrests and juvenile court and juvenile lockup and juvenile imprisonment has turned into such a growth industry.
The problem is it doesn’t work. When we devour kids and put them into the belly of the beast, the beastly system of juvenile detention facilities and adult prison, they do not emerge unscathed and cured of all their criminal inclinations. They come out of jail the worse for wear, angry, well-trained in new criminal techniques, schemes and violent behavior. If you have any doubts about this ask yourself this question: if you repeatedly kick a dog, do you think it wise to let that dog run loose in a park full of families enjoying their picnics? Or do you think somebody might get bit?
At Schwartz & Powell we have represented and have successfully obtained favorable negotiated dispositions and favorable court rulings, the equivalent of adult not guilty verdicts, on a host of juvenile crime cases. If a juvenile you love is investigated for or charged with a violation of the criminal law, it is critical you obtain experienced and successful counsel to represent that child. It is no longer a matter of Johnny being sent to bed early. Now it’s a matter of Johnny being sent to prison. Experience matters.
SCHWARTZ & POWELL
The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.