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California Juvenile Law -

       While the goal of the adult justice system is specifically punishment, the state purpose of the juvenile justice system is treatment and rehabilitation of juvenile offenders. According to California juvenile law, when a juvenile offender is arrested, the law enforcement officers have the choice to take the offender to juvenile hall and put in custody or to release the juvenile to his or her parents or other guardians.

County Probation Department

       The county probation department can then accept the juvenile for booking or arrange for their release. Due to overcrowding most juvenile halls only retain the most serious of offenders.

       If the District Attorney decides to prosecute the juvenile, the most common form is to file a Petition. Similar to a complaint in adult criminal court, the Petition will set forth the accusation of what offenses were committed by the juvenile.

Juvenile Facilities in California

       Not all counties in California have a juvenile facility and some counties only have a juvenile hall. Even fewer have a juvenile hall and a ranch or camp for juvenile offenders.

Welfare and Institutions Code

       The specific laws dealing with juvenile offenders is found primarily in the Welfare and Institutions Code.

Proposition 21

       Despite the stated purpose of the system and despite the fact that juvenile crime is actually decreasing in severity, there are many people who keep promoting the idea that juvenile crime has increased and needs to be dealt with harshly. Based on misrepresentations and misunderstandings, the people of California enacted Prop. 21 in the March 2000 election. This proposition allowed the District Attorneys to direct file in adult court cases that were previously limited to juvenile court. It also called for imprisoning more youthful offenders and increasing their time of imprisonment. It passed with 62% of the vote.

- Written by , Attorney at Law





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