Has your child been accused of a serious crime? Sadly, they may be at risk of being tried as an adult. Though minors in California are usually adjudicated within the juvenile delinquency system, the law permits prosecutors to pursue adult criminal charges against minors in more serious cases. However, a judge must first determine whether a minor is “fit” for the juvenile court system in what is known as a juvenile fitness hearing.
At the Law Offices of David A. Stein, our compassionate OC juvenile crime defense attorneys firmly believe that every child deserves to get a second chance and that reformation and rehabilitation should be pursued in place of punishment in juvenile cases. That is why we are dedicated to protecting minors from overzealous prosecutors that pursue the harshest charges. If your child has a juvenile fitness hearing pending, please call us today at ( (949) 445-0040. We will do everything possible to sway the judge in your child’s favor.
What Qualifies a Minor for a Fitness Hearing?
A prosecutor may be allowed to initiate a fitness hearing if any of the following circumstances are present:
- The minor is 16 years or older and has been accused of any crime (California Welfare & Institutions Code Section 707(a)(1)); or
- The minor is 16 years or older, has allegedly committed a felony and has previously been made a ward of the court after having committed two or more felony offenses while over the age of 14 (W&I Code Section 707(a)(2)(A)); or
- The minor is over the age of 14 and has allegedly committed an offense specified in W&I Code 707(b).
What Factors Determine whether a Juvenile Is Fit?
To determine whether a minor is fit to be tried in juvenile or adult court, the judge consider the following five criteria defined in W&I Code 707:
- The degree of criminal sophistication exhibited by the minor.
- Whether the minor can be rehabilitated prior to the expiration of the juvenile court’s jurisdiction.
- The minor’s criminal record.
- History of previous attempts to rehabilitate the minor.
- The circumstances and severity of the offense allegedly committed by the minor.
Under these criteria, a 16-year-old who is facing a first-time shoplifting offense, for instance, is much less likely to be determined unfit in a juvenile fitness hearing than a known gang member of the same age with a criminal record and a charge of grand theft auto.
Extraordinary Writ to Challenge
Getting Youth Back on Track
Whether the prosecutor in your child’s case has initiated a fitness hearing or your child has lost their first hearing, reach out to the reputable Orange County juvenile crime defense lawyers right away. We may help your child beat their hearing or file a successful writ petition. We also provide expungement services for those who want to get rid of their criminal history. For a free, zero obligation evaluation of your child’s case, contact us today.