What Is Juvenile Delinquency In California?

What Is Juvenile Delinquency In California?

by Mar 3, 2020

When a minor (a child under the age of 18) commits a crime, there are two possible types of offenses they might be guilty of. If the crime they committed is only a crime because of their age, that is typically called a status offense. Status offenses are relatively minor and usually do not carry severe penalties.

On the other hand, if the crime committed would still be a crime even if the minor was 18 years or older, that is known as a “delinquent act.” Juvenile delinquency refers to any minor who commits a delinquent act.

Examples Of Juvenile Delinquency

In most cases of juvenile delinquency, the offenses tend to fall into the misdemeanor category of offenses. Common delinquent acts include:

  • Fighting
  • Vandalism
  • Trespassing
  • Petty theft

Rarely, if ever, are minors tried as adults for these types of crimes. On the other hand, minors who commit more serious crimes (anything that would normally be charged as a felony) are much more likely to be charged as adults, depending on their age.

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Juvenile Delinquency Penalties

When dealing with minors, the California juvenile justice system is weighted heavily towards rehabilitation, as opposed to punishment and incarceration. While in extreme cases, a juvenile delinquent may be sentenced to spend time in a juvenile detention center, in most cases, the penalties for juvenile delinquency are less severe.

Common alternative penalties include things like:

  • Monetary fines for the minor’s parents
  • Parents being ordered to pay court costs
  • Counseling to help minors understand their actions
  • Apology letters written by the minor
  • Citations which will remain on the minor’s juvenile record
  • Diversionary programs. These are similar to probation and often involve electronic monitoring of the minor in an attempt to keep them from getting into more trouble.

Depending on the age of the child and the offense committed, the court may decide on any (or all) of the above penalties when adjudicating the case.

When To Call An Attorney

Regardless of how significant the charges against a juvenile may seem, it’s always a good idea to retain the services of an experienced juvenile defense attorney. A good lawyer can often help mitigate both the severity of the charges and the long-term impact of those charges.

At Quinnan Law, we have extensive experience helping parents and juveniles navigate the juvenile justice system to achieve the best possible outcomes for a family. To learn more about how we can help your case, please contact us today for a free consultation.


At Quinnan Law, we offer every client a free phone consultation to discuss their unique situation and determine how we can help. To arrange a consultation, please fill out the adjacent form or call us at: (707) 540-2356.

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