Being accused of a juvenile crime is bad enough, but not knowing your rights as a minor in juvenile court is even worse. Contrary to the popular belief, the rights of minors in juvenile crime cases and the rights of adults in regular criminal court cases are very different.
Today, our San Francisco juvenile crime attorney is going to review what constitutional rights are given to minors in California’s juvenile court delinquency proceedings.
If you or your child have been taken into custody, there are two mistakes you can do that can result in severe punishment, including incarceration in a juvenile detention facility. And these mistakes are: (a) not seeking legal advice of a juvenile crime lawyer and (b) not knowing your constitutional rights.
Unlawful searches and seizures. A police officer has no right to search and arrest a minor without having probable cause, even if the minor is suspected of committing a juvenile crime. Our attorneys at Okabe & Haushalter note, however, that certain public officials – like school personnel – have a right to detain and search minors if they have “reasonable suspicion” of violating laws.
Right to a phone call. If a juvenile is arrested on suspicion of wrongdoing, he or she has a right to make at least one phone call. While it is advised to contact a juvenile crime attorney right away, the best way to reach out to a lawyer would be to do so through a parent or guardian. If a minor is choosing to contact a lawyer directly, there is a risk that they won’t have enough time to discuss all aspects of the minor’s case, especially when there is only one phone call available.
No right to bail. While minors do not have a right to seek bail, they can be released to their parent or guardian before a juvenile court proceeding.
Right to a state-appointed attorney. A minor has a right to be represented by a state-appointed attorney if he or she cannot afford a private attorney. However, statistics shows that private attorneys tend to be more successful in juvenile crime cases. Besides, our experienced lawyers here at Okabe & Haushalter will not charge attorney fees unless they win your case.
Right to challenge the testimony of witnesses. This is one of the core rights of minors in juvenile crime cases, which, if used wisely, can help avoid punishment, reduce the severity of penalties or prove innocence. Any minor who is being accused of a juvenile crime in San Francisco or elsewhere in California has a right to confront and cross-examine witnesses (the people who are called to testify at the court proceeding).
Under federal and state laws in San Francisco, a minor cannot be forced to testify against himself or herself – in other words, a minor has the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.
Right to have juvenile charges proved beyond a reasonable doubt. If the court has adjudicated a minor as “delinquent” after juvenile court proceedings, the minor has the right to have these charges proved beyond a reasonable doubt, which usually means proving the juvenile crime with sufficient and solid evidence.
It’s never advised to attempt to handle juvenile charges alone. Speak to a San Francisco juvenile crime defense lawyer at Okabe & Haushalter to learn more about your constitutional rights as a minor, and seek effective and aggressive representation in juvenile court.
Call our San Francisco offices at 310-430-7799 or complete this contact form to get a free consultation.