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Juvenile Law

       
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Juvenile law cases generally fall into three categories:

Juvenile Delinquency     
(California Welfare and Institutions Code, Section 602) These are law violations that, if committed by an adult, would be considered crimes.

Juvenile status offenses
(California Welfare and Institutions Code, Section 601) These include non-criminal behaviors that are illegal because of the child’s age – for example, truancy (missing school), being out of the control of a parent or guardian, or running away from home.

Juvenile Dependency     
(California Welfare and Institutions Code, Section 300) A child might become a dependent of the court if abused, molested, neglected, or abandoned by parents or caretakers. In some cases, the judge may refer families to mediation. Mediation gives the family, agencies, and attorneys a chance to try and work out a plan for how a child's best interests can be protected. 

Juvenile courts may remove children from their homes; order their placement with relatives or in foster care or group homes; terminate (end) parental rights; create new parental rights; and link various agencies to provide needed services. Because the decisions that can be made in juvenile court can affect basic rights, it is very important that you consult with an attorney.

Who has the right to have an attorney represent them in a juvenile case?

  • The child in a juvenile delinquency case has a right to an attorney.
  • A parent in juvenile dependency case has a right to an attorney.
  • The child in a juvenile dependency case may also have a court-appointed attorney.

Where will my juvenile case be heard?

Juvenile cases can be heard in the Wakefield Taylor courthouse in Martinez, in the Juvenile Hall court, or in the Carroll Courthouse in Richmond.

What if I have a complaint about a court-appointed juvenile dependency attorney?

Any party to a juvenile dependency proceeding who has a complaint against his or her own court-appointed dependency attorney may use the court's complaint process and fill out, sign, and send in a complaint form. The complaint will be reviewed by the Complaint Administrator who will, in as confidential a manner as possible, investigate the complaint and make recommendations regarding how it should be resolved. 

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