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Who Does California’s Juvenile Court Have Jurisdiction Over?

Law Office of Katie Walsh

The state of California’s juvenile court has jurisdiction over many of California’s youth.

Going over who they have jurisdiction over, specifically, and what this means while speaking with a California juvenile defense lawyer will allow you to protect your child from unnecessary legal challenges.

Who Does California’s Juvenile Court Have Jurisdiction Over?

The state of California’s juvenile court has jurisdiction over every minor between twelve and seventeen years old.

As an example, if your child is fifteen years old and arrested for a crime, then they are under the jurisdiction of California’s juvenile court.

On the other hand, if your child is eleven years old – or younger, for that matter – then they are not under the jurisdiction of California’s juvenile court.

The implications of this fact will be clarified in the sections right below.

Outside of what has been clarified, the state of California’s juvenile court has jurisdiction over children under the age of twelve who commit certain crimes. These “certain crimes” are as follows:

  • Oral Copulation
  • Rape
  • Murder
  • Sodomy
  • Sexual Penetration

If a minor under the age of twelve is accused of one of these crimes, then California’s juvenile court has jurisdiction over their court.

The above is only true, though, if they were committed by violence, force, menace, or the threat of bodily injury.

If Your Child Is Under 12 And Commits A Crime, What Happens?

The answer to this question is “It depends.”

Right within the bill that outlines these rules – SB 439, which went into effect in January of 2019 – there is a provision that states the following: every county must develop alternatives to the juvenile court system.

Every single one of these alternatives must be, and is, “least restrictive.”

These least restrictive alternatives aim to prevent young children from entering the justice system from a young age, which is unlikely to be good for their growth, development, or long-term health.

Even though the above is true, these least restrictive alternatives are dependent on the California county you live in.

As a general rule, though, if there are existing school-based, health-based, or community-based services, these are to be used.

Outside of the above, if the behaviors that a child has committed – or is thought to have committed – aren’t too severe, then a child is to be released to their parents.

If a child is under twelve and hasn’t committed one of the serious crimes outlined in the previous section, they will be released to their parents and/or forced to partake in the least restrictive alternative to the juvenile court.

If Your Child Is Over 12 And Commits A Crime, What Happens?

A child who is over twelve and commits a crime will be placed in the state of California’s juvenile court system.

Navigating this system is often confusing due to its complexity.

Your child can face several sanctions – punishments, as it were – in this system. And these can be significant and difficult to deal with.

If you and your child work with a lawyer, though, it will be easier for them to obtain a good legal outcome.

Speak With An Orange County Juvenile Justice Lawyer Today

If your child, regardless of their age, is facing legal consequences, then they need a lawyer.
Speak with an Orange County juvenile justice lawyer at the Law Office of Katie Walsh today, and we will help you and your child obtain the best possible legal outcome.

Client Reviews

I hired attorney Katie Walsh to help my son when he was found with a large amount of drugs on school campus. She got us through the Expulsion Hearing, and miraculously he can go back to school at the winter semester...

AR- parent of minor client

I hired Katie Walsh to have my felony convictions expunged. She was able to expunge my record within 6 weeks of me giving her all the information. Even though technically I had a probation violation, and therefore the...

AR, criminal client

My 16 year old son was charged with possession of Marijuana, HS 11357(b). I was very concerned about what would happen to him and how this would affect his future. I contacted Ms. Walsh and she assured me that everything...

CT, parent of juvenile client

My child was charged with Felony Penal Code 597(a)- Animal Cruelty. After hiring Katie Walsh, she got the charges reduced to a misdemeanor, counseling, and 40 hours of chores at home. We come back in 6 months and the...

DH - Parent of Juvenile client

I hired Katie Walsh to represent my son on sexual abuse allegations- P.C. 288(a) and P.C. 288(b)- they were Strike Charges. After negotiating with the D.A., she got all the strike charges dismissed, and got my son...

DR- mother of juvenile client

Katie Walsh was fantastic throughout this entire process! My 13 year old son was charged with two counts of lewd act on a minor, PC 288(a) and was in juvenile hall. After hiring Ms. Walsh, she GOT MY SON OUT OF JAIL and...

EG, parent of juvenile client

My 14 year old son was arrested at school for P.C. 311 (child pornography). My son had innocent and stupid nude pictures of himself and friends on his phone. Ms. Walsh was extremely easy to talk to, and made my son feel...

GK,TK, parents of juvenile client

Ms. Walsh was a life saver when I didn't know what was going on, or how to handle the situation. My young daughter was attacked at her middle school and was seriously injured. At a time when both the school and the...

HA, mother of 13 year old Victim Rights client

I hired Katie Walsh to seal my juvenile record of PC 288(a) (lewd act on a minor), after my request had been denied by a Judge and by the Probation Department. After speaking with Probation, the DA and the Judge at a...

JW, former juvenile client

I was charged with a Felony Conspiracy charge- PC 182. After hiring Ms. Walsh she got my charged reduced to a misdemeanor right away, and now I just have to do community service and in 6 months my entire case will be...

KP, juvenile client

Ms. Walsh was like a breath of fresh air throughout this entire process. I was uncertain about the outcome, but she told me everything would be ok- and it was. She had my juvenile record sealed within 3 months of...

LR, former juvenile client

Ms. Walsh got the judge to terminate my son's probation and seal his 2 juvenile cases (Penal Code 288(a) and Penal Code 242) even though he had violated my probation by picking up a new case. By getting his record sealed...

MB- mother of juvenile client

At a very difficult time in my life I contacted attorney Katie Walsh. I am a teacher and was being harassed/stalked by a parent at my school. I wanted a Restraining Order against this person. Ms. Walsh listened to me...

MB, restraining order client

My son was charged with Lewd Conduct, P.C. 647 out of Downey, CA. After hiring Ms. Walsh, she spoke with the District Attorney, Probation, and the Judge. Even though the judge was not pleased with the offer, she was able...

MG, parent of minor

It is with sincere gratitude that I send this recommendation As a parent of a child that was arrested on a Felony Domestic Abuse charge and over 2000 miles away I had to rely on friend of a friends word that you would...

MPF, mother of criminal client

I really liked having Ms. Walsh as my attorney. She visited me in Juvenile Hall. I was charged with four counts of Robbery (Penal Code 211). This was my 8th juvenile petition. Ms. Walsh got 2 of the robbery charges...

MU, juvenile client

I was arrested for a felony Domestic charge, PC 273.5(a). After I hired Katie Walsh, my entire case was dismissed. I never had to appear in court. I felt very comfortable with Ms. Walsh- she was easy to speak with...

NF, criminal client

Katie was instrumental in helping me with a criminal matter as an advocate for me and my children when I was a named victim in a DV case. She patiently and expediently addressed all of my questions and was an invaluable...


My daughter was pulled over arrested for having a Fake ID. After hiring Ms. Walsh my daughter did not have to plead guilty- which would have affected her license status. She did community service, completed a legal...


My 14 year old daughter was involved in an assault and battery- PC 240/242, in Irvine. After hiring Katie Walsh the case was not referred to Court. My daughter was able to complete a class and the case will be dismissed...

SG, mother a juvenile client

My son was charged with possession of Child Pornography P.C. 311.11(a) - a charge I did not realize a child could be guilty of! As parents were beside ourselves when we found this out, and contacted Katie Walsh. She...

SH- mother of juvenile client

From San Diego I contacted Ms. Walsh about sealing my juvenile record in Orange County regarding a Petty Theft charge. She was always very responsive to any of my questions, and consistently kept me updated. Even though...

XL, juvenile client

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