Under California law, children between the ages of 12 and 18 who get in legal trouble are juveniles. Getting involved in a fight is a typical way many minors find themselves on the wrong side of the law. After an altercation, a juvenile may be charged with assault.
What Is Assault?
You might assume “assault” and “battery” are synonymous terms because you’ve heard them used together so often. However, California law considers assault and battery as two separate convictions. The distinction is that assault is attempted violence, while battery is the violent act itself. Even if nobody got hurt, there can still be legal ramifications.
As a minor in California, your child will likely need to attend juvenile court proceedings, which have a different structure than adult court. Juvenile court is less formal and usually doesn’t have a jury. Also, the presiding judge doesn’t rule a minor guilty or innocent. Instead, if they find a juvenile committed the assault beyond a reasonable doubt, they will sustain the district attorney’s petition.
Another difference between the adult legal system and the juvenile justice system is that minors don’t have the option to post bail. That means your child will remain in custody until their next scheduled court date if a judge rules it.
What Are the Consequences of Juvenile Assault Charges?
Crimes committed by minors typically have less severe consequences than the same offenses committed by adults. For instance, in a juvenile assault case, a judge may require an underaged offender to attend court-ordered counseling or pay restitution to their victim instead of sentencing them to adult prison.
After more serious assault charges – such as those involving deadly weapons or harm done to an official such as a first responder – a minor may spend time in a juvenile detention facility. Alternatively, a judge might place them on probation, where they’ll have to follow rigorous activity restrictions and guidelines.
What Should You Do If Your Child Commits Assault?
Juvenile felonies can count toward California’s three-strikes law, which can lead to life imprisonment after the conviction of a third crime. That’s why it’s crucial to secure experienced legal representation as soon as possible to help you understand the potential charges and penalties your minor child may be facing.
As a former prosecutor, Katie Walsh has established a long track record of helping her clients in some of the most vulnerable circumstances, fighting to ensure the best results. In her career as a juvenile attorney, she’s guided thousands of families like yours through complex court cases. Many lawyers who focus solely on adult cases lack the knowledge necessary to successfully navigate the juvenile justice system, but an attorney who has chosen to concentrate her practice in juvenile law can help you and your family during a challenging time. She knows you do not want your child to have a criminal record, and she will do everything possible to ensure that doesn’t happen. To schedule a free consultation, contact our offices today.