Over the past few years, hundreds of teens arrested at the California border have learned the hard way - drug trafficking is not the answer.
Teens Being Recruited by Drug Smugglers
In fiscal 2017, Customs and Border Protection arrested 84 juveniles smuggling narcotics across the San Diego border. Within the first six months of this year, there have been 41 cases. The bump in teenage smugglers was seen 10 years ago. At that time, it was largely marijuana and methamphetamine being smuggled but now the most common drugs seized from teen couriers are meth, heroin and cocaine, with fentanyl making more appearances.
Cartels have been targeting teens in a big way - preying on the fact that teenagers are easily recruited as they strive to make some money of their own - or even harder - when they are trying to help their family’s financial issues.
The kids most often being recruited for such work are frequent border crossers - typically Mexican citizens that have border crossing cards who attend school in the U.S.
Penalties for Smuggling
Penalties for smuggling can vary depending on the circumstances but can include fines, weeks or months in Juvenile Hall - which the parents pay for - and rehabilitation programs. Other more serious consequences include loss of driver’s license, border crossing card, as well as opportunities to obtain college loans, serve in the military or become a naturalized U.S. citizen.
For a parent, having your child arrested and charged with an alleged crime is one of the most traumatic experiences you could have. Having an experienced Juvenile Defense Attorney can help turn a possible negative outcome into a positive one.
Juvenile Defense and Criminal Defense Attorneys
A Criminal Defense Attorney who also specializes in Juvenile Defense has the extensive experience necessary to handle all aspects related to Juvenile Court matters. Having a Juvenile Defense attorney representing you and your child many times can help keep the matter out of the Juvenile Court system, as well as minimize potentially serious consequences that arise from your child being arrested and detained.
The Juvenile Court System in California handles matters that are associated with juvenile law, such as cases involving juvenile delinquency and juvenile dependency.
Juvenile Delinquency vs Juvenile Dependency
Cases of Juvenile Delinquency involves charges associated with violations of criminal laws committed by a “minor,” defined as somebody under 18 years of age. In San Diego County the Juvenile Courts are located in San Diego, El Cajon, Vista, and Chula Vista. In Los Angeles County they are located in Inglewood, Long Beach, Torrance, Compton, Downey, Pasadena, Pomona, Sylmar, East Los Angeles, and Bakersfield for cases in Kern County.
Cases of Juvenile Dependency involves charges against parents or guardians for child abuse or child neglect committed against a “minor,” defined as somebody under 18 years of age.
Minors charged with alcohol or drug possession are handled in an informal juvenile traffic court. To ensure any records remain clean for your child, it’s imperative that you have an attorney experienced in Juvenile Delinquency and Dependency handling their case in Juvenile Court.
Proceedings in Juvenile Court
Whether the court involved deals with family, probate, juvenile, or dependency, your child has the following rights:
- The right to representation by an attorney.
- The right to have witnesses present on the child’s behalf.
- The right to confront, subpoena, and cross-examine witnesses.
- The right to have a public hearing.
- The right to have evidence presented.
- The right to an appeal of the verdict.
These rights encompass the basic Miranda Rights:
- You have the right to remain silent.
- Anything you say or do may be used against you in a court of law.
- You have the right to an attorney.
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you.
- Do you understand these rights as they have been read to you?
If your child could face prison if they are found delinquent of the alleged charge, they may be entitled to an attorney if they can’t afford one, per the Miranda Rights. As a general rule, court proceedings in Juvenile Court are sealed, meaning the records are confidential and not accessible to the general public. However, some states don’t always seal juvenile records automatically, so the child must request that their records be sealed.
While a juvenile has a right to trial by jury, if they have been determined delinquent, there’s jeopardy attached and they could be retried for the same alleged crime.
The goal of California’s adult correctional system is punishment, but the goal of the juvenile court justice system is treatment and rehabilitation. To accomplish this task the system has an array of programs and methods to address juvenile crime, depending on the offense’s severity and the juvenile offender’s background. Some of these programs and methods include fines, detention, treatment programs, incarceration, community service, and community supervision.
For offenses with a higher severity, the juvenile court justice system also includes formal or informal probation, incarceration, and detention. Because the goal of the juvenile justice system is rehabilitation instead of punishment, other agencies and institutions play a role including schools, community-based organizations, and social services agencies.
Juvenile Court and Charging as an Adult
Probation officials, police, and the District Attorney have been given broad discretion by the Juvenile Court Justice system where it comes to the way juvenile offenders are treated. After being arrested, the police have the option to either take them to juvenile hall or release them to their parents.
The juvenile law of Proposition 21 has been modified by the state legislature to permit the transfer of a juvenile offender from juvenile court to adult court, where they would be tried as an adult for certain serious and/or violent felony crimes, such as murder. Juveniles as young as 11 have been tried as adults. A judge will decide the appropriateness of transferring a juvenile to the adult court system in most cases, but if a crime is particularly serious the prosecutor may charge the minor directly to be tried as an adult.
A minor has the same constitutional rights in the Juvenile Court System as an adult. Like an adult they have the right to have their Miranda rights read to them, including permitting them the right to not make statements to the police unless their attorney is present. Minors also have the right to request that their parents be present before law enforcement questions them. However, since the police are not required to let a minor know this before interrogating them or taking their statement, it’s imperative to retain a Juvenile Criminal Defense Attorney as soon as your juvenile has been arrested and charged with an alleged crime in order to protect their constitutional rights.
One note to consider is the fact that school officials, counselors, and teachers are not required to advise a juvenile of their constitutional Miranda rights prior to their being questioned, unless they are doing the advising at the direction of the police.
Whenever a minor has been accused of a juvenile crime an attorney should be retained to represent them in all juvenile court proceedings. Unlike adult court, in juvenile court a minor is not entitled to have a trial by jury, instead they have an “adjudication” which is trial before a judge. The burden of proof is still the same for a minor as for an adult, which means there must be “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” that the alleged crime was committed by the minor. Due to the potential serious and life-altering circumstances of being accused of a crime, you should immediately consult a Juvenile Defense Attorney.
Hearings on School Expulsion and Juvenile Defense
Without proper representation for your juvenile, the school expulsion process in California public schools can be intimidating and frequently traumatic. In situations such as this an experienced attorney is essential.
There are various reasons why a student may be expelled from public school, including violence, use or possession of drugs, selling drugs, and other criminal acts such as possession of weapons such as a gun or knife. The education code requires a juvenile be expelled for some of these offenses, but the school board has the power in most of these cases to suspend the expulsion. By suspending it the juvenile is kept in the district but probably will not be permitted to return to the same school where the offense occurred.
Process for School Expulsion
The first step in the expulsion process is for the student to appear at a hearing with a panel of three teachers from the district the school is in. Although similar to a trial, there are no rules about evidence and just about anything can be presented for the panel to consider, including letters and written statements. The student has two options. The first option is to fight the charges and require the panel to decide whether they think the offense was committed by the student. The second option is for the student to admit their fault and give information to help reduce the offense, such as statements by their parents or letters of recommendation. If an attorney has been retained for the student, the attorney can question district officials, such as the principal or vice-principal of their school, about the case for expulsion. After the district’s evidence is heard the student and student’s family hears the panel’s recommendation, which will then be presented to the school board. The panel will usually recommend the student’s expulsion in cases where the alleged offense requires it. However, the school board makes the final decision.
The second step in the expulsion process is for the student to appear in front of the school board. The school board usually only allows limited testimony, giving weight to the school district panel’s decision. If appropriate, your attorney may try to enter as much testimony as possible, including statements indicating the student’s remorse for the alleged offense. If an attorney is representing the student, they are then given an opportunity to give their closing arguments. After the school board has heard all the testimony they will deliberate and give their decision in approximately 24 hours or so.
If the student and their family are not happy with the school board’s decision, they can appeal it to the county board. A Juvenile Defense Attorney can help you and your child through this difficult and traumatic process.
If your child has been arrested for an alleged crime or faces school expulsion, you need the expertise of a Juvenile Defense Attorney such as Sevens Legal, APC. Contact Sevens Legal, APC, today for a free consultation.
Criminal Defense Attorneys
3555 4th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92103
Phone: (619) 297-2800