Call For Consultation424-552-3901

Juvenile Defense

Home / Juvenile Defense

As a parent, hearing your child on the receiver requesting that you pick them up from the police station can be frightening. You may begin to question your parenting skills without realizing your child may be innocent. In this instance, it is in your best interest to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney to properly investigate the details of your child’s criminal allegation.

Although juvenile charges are different from adult ones, they can carry serious consequences for your child. With their whole life ahead of them, it is important that you do everything in your power to protect your child from the consequences of their alleged crime. Punishments, even in juvenile cases, can have lifelong implications and easily ruin bright futures.

With the help of our attorneys at Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP, you can be sure that you have the best possible legal representation for your child and family.

Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP: Your Southern California Juvenile Crimes Attorneys

For decades, our lawyers have provided aggressive representation for clients facing criminal allegations. At Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP, we believe that your child deserves to combat the allegation they face and force the prosecution to prove that their evidence is factual. Robert Ernenwein is a former Los Angeles deputy district attorney, and he will provide a unique perspective for your child’s criminal defense strategy. We are prepared to identify and explore the best possible outcomes, and we will defend your child against their criminal allegation as if they were our own.

Over our years in business, we have represented many young people. We understand that kids make mistakes sometimes. We also understand that kids can be cruel and often blame each other to avoid being punished themselves. No matter your child’s situation, we are here to provide empathetic, judgment-free legal advice that can help your child move forward from this unfortunate part of their lives.

Kids already grow up too quickly, and facing legal punishment will only accelerate this process. Rely on one of our criminal defense lawyers to help protect your child’s innocence and preserve their prospects for the future.

What Is a Juvenile Crime?

A juvenile crime is an offense that has been committed by a person who is under a certain age. In most states, including California, the offender must be 17 or younger to be tried in the juvenile court system rather than the adult one.

Most juvenile cases are considered minor infractions. Only 6-7% of juvenile cases involve serious offenses like rape, murder, assault, robbery, etc.

Despite the nature of these cases, the punishments can still be severe. A person charged with a crime in a juvenile court may face consequences years later. Their punishments may prevent them from getting into a good college, finding a job, acquiring independent housing, and more. It is always best to hire an attorney for juvenile crime cases.

Status Offenses

Status offenses are a category of crime that is unique to the juvenile justice system. These crimes are all actions that would not be considered criminal if the child were an adult. The child’s age is the deciding factor that turns their actions from a harmless or common activity into a crime.

Some examples of status offenses include:

  • Consuming alcohol, marijuana, or tobacco underage
  • Truancy
  • Running away
  • Breaking a city or county curfew time
  • Being beyond their parent’s control (ungovernability)

All these actions are only illegal if a minor or a person under a certain age commits them. If a 25-year-old person were to do any of the above actions, they would not be committing a crime.

Types of Juvenile Offenses

There are many different kinds of juvenile offenses. In fact, almost any crime can be considered a juvenile offense if it has been committed by someone who is 17 or younger. However, most juvenile offenses are status offenses or small delinquencies.

Despite the broad range of crimes in the juvenile court system, there are some offenses that are especially common for adolescents and children.


Theft is one of the most common juvenile crimes. Children often feel pressure from their peers to steal, especially if they do not have an allowance or job to afford the things that they may want. Some children just want to see what shoplifting or stealing will feel like, as it is common for young people to experiment.

Although the court does not accept age as an excuse for committing a crime, it does understand that theft in children is not necessarily an indication of an ongoing personality trait or bad streak. However, it is important that you make sure that your child’s perspective is heard in court, especially if they were coerced or pressured into committing theft.


Adolescents often commit vandalism to connect with friends and send a message. For this reason, it is an offense that is commonly seen in the juvenile court system. If your child is facing vandalism charges, it is important that other parties involved in the offense, such as friends or classmates, are also held responsible. To achieve the minimum punishment or to have the petition against your child dropped, you need to find an attorney to represent your family.


When kids reach a certain age, it is common for disagreements to break out among peers. In some situations, these disagreements escalate to physical altercations. In others, one adolescent may bully another adolescent based on a number of factors. Adolescents may also form gangs to feel a sense of belonging and to feel protected from others. All of these scenarios can lead to assault charges.

Assault is a serious offense, and it is one that is common in general court hearings as well as juvenile ones. If your child is accused of assaulting another person, it is imperative that you have an attorney represent you.

Ensure the Protection Of Your Child’s Future

It is in your child’s best interest for you to consult a criminal defense lawyer who can walk you through the juvenile justice system and figure out the best possible disposition for your child. A plea deal may seem like the easy way out, but it can have long-term effects on your child’s future.

California has a three-strikes law, and a juvenile conviction can result in the first strike, depending on the age of your child at the time the offense was committed. Just one strike on a criminal record can result in more severe consequences. It is important to understand how juvenile court works and find alternative charges or dispositions or avoid lifelong consequences. Protect your child from the negative long-term effects by preparing them with an aggressive criminal defense.

Juvenile Court Distinctions

Although juvenile court ensures that children are held responsible for their actions just as adults are, there are many distinctions between a juvenile court process and a standard court process. It is important to understand these differences as you navigate your child’s case.

Children and adolescents have the same right to an attorney in court as adults do. However, they do not have the same right to a jury of their peers. Instead, the case is heard by a single judge who can resolve the issue. Usually, these resolutions are fairly informal and are meant to teach a lesson or offer reparations rather than punish the juvenile individual.

Although the consequences of juvenile crimes can affect a child’s future, the court has options for punishment in juvenile cases that are uncommon or unavailable in adult cases. The courts often use curfews, house arrest, counseling, and probation as punishments for juvenile crimes, whereas these tactics are not as common with adults.

Adolescents in Adult Court

In some situations, a juvenile can be tried in a regular courtroom. This is called a waiver. In the standard courtroom, the child is subject to the same standards and punishments as adults are, despite their age.

Waivers usually happen when a child has committed several previous offenses or the offense was particularly gruesome. If a child or adolescent is accused of rape, murder, or other similar offenses, the court may try them in a standard setting. This results in more severe consequences, stricter rules, and more difficult litigation. In these situations, it is imperative that you have an attorney to represent your family. Your child and family could face lifelong consequences if you do not hire a lawyer.

Aggressive Southern California Criminal Defense Lawyers

Our juvenile defense lawyers at Ernenwein & Mathes, LLP, will fight for your child’s innocence as if they were their own. Mr. Ernenwein is aware of how the prosecution operates, and we use this knowledge to prepare a creative defense strategy for your child’s best possible resolution.

Contact our Torrance office for your free consultation by calling 424-552-3901, or you can complete this online contact form.