LOS ANGELES JUVENILE CRIME LAWYERS: FITNESS HEARINGS AND DIRECT FILING IN ADULT COURTAt Kestenbaum Eisner & Gorin, LLP, our juvenile defense lawyers focus on preventing minors from facing adult court prosecution. Our defense attorneys specialize in helping minors arrested for serious crimes avoid adult court prosecution, and have obtained superior results for over 50 years in Southern California juvenile courts. When our law firm works with clients and families, we do everything possible to make sure that they receive reliable and aggressive representation in and out of court. That is why we have been rated year after year as a Top 5% U.S. Pre-Eminent Law Firm by Martindale-Hubbell, a national Lawyer Review Service.
Violent juvenile crimes are vigorously prosecuted by law enforcement in California Juvenile Courts. Juvenile delinquency proceedings are instituted under Welfare and Institutions Code 602 by the state. A juvenile, as young as 14 years old, may charged with a felony offense in adult court. In recent years, pursuant to Welfare and Institutions Code Section 707(b), California law has expanded as to how old a juvenile must be to face prosecution in adult court. Our law firm has extensive experience defending felony and misdemeanor juvenile crimes including Violent Crime, Sex Crimes, Theft-Fraud, Burglary, Vandalism, Weapons Charges, Bench Warrants, Drug Offenses, and other serious criminal offenses.
The District Attorney has discretion to decide whether to file the charges in adult court or juvenile court. Pursuant to the Welfare and Institution Code provisions, two different methods are available for the District Attorney to prosecute a minor in adult court, so that a juvenile is eligible for significant sentences in adult prison. First, California's Proposition 21 allows the District Attorney to file a juvenile case directly in adult court for certain serious crimes. Second, the more-frequently used method is a "Fitness Hearing" under Welfare and Institutions Code Section 707 filed in juvenile court. If your child is accused of a serious felony, the District Attorney may petition the court for a fitness hearing.
Fitness hearing and direct filings are typically reserved for the most serious crimes such as murder, attempted murder, arson, molestation, carjacking, kidnapping, robbery, rape, residential burglary and other violent offenses causing great bodily injury. At the fitness hearing, the judge will determine whether or not to certify your child's case to adult court.
Welfare and Institutions Code 707(a) states the criteria that the judge must evaluate in determining whether or not your child is fit to be tried in juvenile court:
(1) The degree of criminal sophistication exhibited by the minor;
(2) Whether the minor can be rehabilitated prior to the expiration of the juvenile court's jurisdiction;
(3) The minor's previous delinquent history;
(4) Success of previous attempts by the juvenile court to rehabilitate the minor; and
(5) The circumstances and gravity of the offenses alleged in the petition to have been committed by the minor.
Our knowledgeable legal team can evaluate your case issues and advise you of your legal options before your family goes to court! The firm specializes in defending juvenile cases throughout the Los Angeles County Juvenile Court System including Sylmar Court, Pasadena Court, Inglewood Juvenile, Antelope Valley, Eastlake Juvenile, Long Beach, and Los Padrinos Court.