Articles Posted in Juvenile Law

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There is good news for juveniles convicted of crimes that required a life without the possibility of parole sentences.  New California legislation provides relief for individuals who were convicted of crimes that required a life without parole sentence if they were under the age of 18 at the time the crimes was committed.  For example, previously someone who was convicted of murder for the benefit of a gang would receive a sentence of  life without the possibility of parole even though the individual was as young as 14 years old.  Now under AB1308 individuals in prison will get a chance at parole after 25 years of incarceration.  


It may seem that 25 actual years is a long time to wait for the Parole Board to hold a hearing for a crime but in comparison to never getting out of prison for a crime committed when the person was very young, it is a huge improvement.   

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Restored Faith
My job, as a criminal defense attorney, is difficult.  The judges, by and large, are against me and my client.  The District Attorney is often unwilling to be sympathetic to the human side of my client’s actions.  The criminal justice system is harsh and devastating to many who enter it.  My friends question “How can you represent people accused of crimes?”  Like they don’t have me on speed dial.  But, this isn’t about how bad things can be for me in my professional life.  It’s about how good and rewarding what I do for a living is.
I’ve represented many, many people over my career who have gotten themselves into all kinds of trouble and have found that anyone can make a mistake in their life, rich or poor, young or old, class valedictorian or class clown. Anyone can start walking down the wrong path in life, and some of them just need a little bit of help to get back on track.  Some of them make the same mistakes more than once.  I give them all everything I have to defend them and restore their lives to them.  All too often I don’t know what happens to them after I finish their cases.
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Ever find yourself in court and totally confused on where to go? I recently sent my law clerk to file a petition at the Juvenile Court in Orange, CA. Two hours later he called me frustrated and exasperated! While all he had to do was file a petition with the clerk, he ended up being told by 5 different people to go to 5 different places, until he found himself sitting for 45 minutes outside of a courtroom waiting for someone to finally review his paperwork.

What my clerk found out is something most attorneys already know, that the courts are confusing and daunting to those who have never had to deal with them. For instance, the Juvenile courthouse is a large building with over ten stories, and while there are generic signs directing you around, there is no one you can simply tap on the shoulder and ask for help. You are completely on your own! One of the best reasons to hire an experienced attorney is to make sure you don’t get lost in the morass of hallways and court rules that make up our local court system. Even if you think you can make a great case to a judge or jury yourself, make sure you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney so that you can get your day in court at all!

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A good criminal defense attorney connects with his clients on more than one level. There is the objective analysis of the facts that must be done without regard to emotions. In order to evaluate a case properly, a good attorney needs to look dispassionately at all the facts and circumstances involved. He needs to know the law and how the facts fit into the law. He also needs to know exactly what the prosecutor has to prove in order to win, which is why being a former prosecutor can big a big advantage.

In establishing the facts and circumstances of the alleged crime, the attorney also must establish a relationship with the client and the client’s family. This is where the emotional involvement comes into play. The case is made up of more than just facts. It is made up of a human being with all that entails. A good attorney needs to care about his client. He worries about the client as a person. He has concerns about more than just getting the client “off”. In almost every crime there is an underlying problem and the lawyer worries about his client getting well.

If substance abuse is involved, the lawyer worries about the client obtaining treatment and getting well. If the client is going to jail, what is going to happen to his family while he is away? How will he pay his fines? His bills?

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