Juvenile Delinquency

  • What happens to my child when they are under the age of 18 and they are charged with a crime?
    • The majority of children who are charged with committing crimes and are not given a diversion program will have their cases heard in juvenile delinquency court.
    • The juvenile delinquency court is for children who are alleged to have committed crimes prior to their eighteenth birthday.
    • The goals of the juvenile delinquency system are rehabilitation of children and protection of the public. 
  • When does my son or daughter get appointed a Public Defender?
    • Typically, your child will be appointed a Public Defender at his/her first court appearance.
  • How does my child see his/her Public Defender?
    • At the initial court appearance, the attorney will provide you and your child with the contact information for the Public Defender's Office.
    • Often the attorney will provide you with an appointment date and time at your first court appearance.  If this is not available for someone reason, you or your child must then call the Public Defender's Office to schedule an appointment with your child's attorney.
  • Is my child's attorney also my attorney?
    • No, in a juvenile delinquency action the attorney for the child is appointed to represent the child.
  • Will I be charged a fee for the services of the Public Defender for my child?
    • Yes, in juvenile delinquency matters, parents or guardians are charged a $125 per hour fee. However, the fee is capped at two or three hours, depending on the work required by the attorney, regardless of how long the attorney actually spends working on behalf of the child.   
    • Yolo County Collection Services (YCCS) is the entity designated for the purpose of collecting fees. YCCS is located in the County Administration Building (just to the left of the main courthouse), at 625 Court Street, Woodland, California 95695.
    • YCCS will charge the parent or guardian a $25 registration fee. This fee will offset the  legal fee imposed by the county, described above. If you cannot afford this fee you can request this fee be waived.
    • YCCS has authority to waive these fees, in whole or in part, after conducting a financial evaluation and concluding that a person is unable to pay the fees, in whole or in part. Any person who disagrees with YCCS’s assessment regarding ability to pay may request a Court hearing on the matter. 
  • What should my child bring to his/her appointment with the Public Defender's Office?
    • Please bring any documents or other materials that you or your child feels are relevant to his/her case. The attorney will probably have a copy of the charging document  and/or the police report or citation made at the time of the incident.
  • What will happen at the interview with my child and his/her Public Defender?
    • The attorney will first meet with your child alone confidentially.   
    • The attorney will ask your child to tell the attorney what occurred leading up to their citation (ticket) or arrest.  It is important your child tell the attorney everything about his/her case. Your child's conversation with the attorney is completely confidential and will not be revealed to the prosecutor, the judge, or the parents without permission of the child. 
    • The reason that the attorney meets with the child in a confidential setting without the parents present is for the child's protection to ensure that the child's version of events remains completely confidential.  In addition, it can be difficult for a child to provide a true and accurate recitation of what occurred if his/her parent(s) are present. 
    • The attorney will then meet with the child and the parent(s) to discuss the options available for the child. 

  • What should my child do or not do while his/her case is proceeding?
    • Your child should Not talk to anyone about his/her case, other than his/her attorney.  This is important to remember because anyone other than your child's attorney may later be forced to testify against him/her.  This includes: family, friends, and if they are in custody, other children in custody.
    • If your child is in custody remember that all phone calls at the juvenile detention facility are recorded and can be given to the District Attorney's Office.  Letters are copies and can also be given to the District Attorney's Office. If your child is in custody he/she can always call his/her attorney.  If he/she writes to the assigned attorney make sure every page of the letter and the envelope are marked "attorney-client privilege."  Your child should not write a letter to the District Attorney's Office or directly to the court. 
    • Your child must appear and be on time for all of his/her court appearances.  If he/she is late or do not show up for court the judge will issue a warrant for his/her arrest.  Your child must always appear for court unless he/she has specifically discussed this with his/her attorney prior to the court appearance.  If an unforseen circumstance arises contact the Public Defender's Office immediately.
    • Your child must keep in contact with his/her attorney.  If your child moves or there is a change in his/her telephone number your child should contact his/her attorney right away. 
    • Your child must attend school every day it is in session and must not be late unless he/she has an excuse acceptable to the school.

  • If my child is charged in Yolo County Juvenile Delinquency Court how will his/her case proceed?
    • If your child has been charged in Juvenile Court in Yolo County, his/her case will proceed in the following manner:

                              MEETING WITH THE CHILD, PARENT, AND PROBATION OFFICER          
                                                        DETENTION HEARING  
                                         UNCONTESTED JURISDICTIONAL HEARING
                                            CONTESTED JURISDICTIONAL HEARING 
                                                           DISPOSITION HEARING


    • If a police officer has probable cause to believe that a juvenile has committed a crime he or she can arrest the juvenile.  However, the juvenile must be brought before a probation officer. 
    • Even if a police officer has probable cause to believe that a juvenile has committed a crime the police officer in many instances is not required to arrest the juvenile.  He or she may also give them a citation (ticket) to appear later in front of a probation officer. 
    • After being arrested or receiving a citation the child will then be brought before a probation officer. 
    • The probation officer will then interview the child and his family about the circumstances of family, school, and social history.  The probation officer will also interview the child about the circumstances surrounding his/her arrest.  The child has the absolute right to not answer the questions regarding the events surrounding his or her arrest and request to speak with an attorney before doing so.  This is advised!  
    • If the child has been arrested the probation officer in many instances has the ability to release the juvenile on a contract with rules the juvenile will have to follow. 
    • Your child's first appearance in court is called the detention hearing. You and your child will be advised of the charges and asked if your child has a private attorney, or will need the assistance of the Public Defender. If your child needs a Public Defender, he or she may request one from the court.  
    • If your child is in custody your child's attorney may request that he/she be released from custody.  The judge may release your child, release your child on a contract with certain rules that he or she must follow, or keep your child detained at the juvenile detention facility. 
    • Typically your child must enter a plea at the detention hearing. A plea is when he or she enters a “Denial”, “Nolo Contendere” (No Contest) or “Admission.” Your child's attorney can explain the differences to you and your child. 
    • If your child enters a denial and he or she is in custody, your child has a right to a contested jurisdictional hearing (trial) in fifteen court days (not including weekends and holidays).  If your child is not in custody he or she has a right to a contested jurisdictional hearing (trial) within thirty calendar days. 
    • If it is necessary to continue your child's case beyond that deadline in order to prepare his/her case, he/she may be asked to “waive time.”  Waiving time is common for those clients who are out of custody as it allows your child's attorney more time to be flexible with schedules in setting future court dates and appointments. If your child agrees to waive time, he/she is not giving up his/her right to have a contested juvenile hearing (trial) just the right to have one within the time period required.
    • After your child has discussed his/her case with his/her attorney, your child's attorney will discuss his/her case with the District Attorney and the Court to see whether an agreeable resolution can be reached.
    • The purpose of the uncontested jurisdictional hearing is simply to determine if a resolution can be reached short of proceeding to contested jurisdictional hearing.
    • This is the trial.  In California, with one limited exception, in juvenile court, juveniles do not have a right to a trial by jury.  As such, the judge will decide whether or not the allegations have been sustained (proven). 
    • At the contested jurisdictional hearing, your child is presumed innocent and the charges cannot be sustained unless the District Attorney has proven each element of each offense by proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
    • If the allegations are not sustained (not proven) your son or daughter's case ends.  If some or all of the allegations have been sustained (proven) your son or daughter's case will proceed to disposition.
    • This is the court proceeding where the judge will decide what consequence will be imposed as a result of the sustained allegations.
    • The probation department will interview the parents and the juvenile prior to the disposition hearing.  It will write a report and make a recommendation to the judge as to what the probation department believes appropriate consequence should be.
    • Ultimately, the judge will decide what consequence will be imposed.