Since 1971, a former Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice State of California, Sam Spital prosecuted cases in all State and Federal Courts through the California Supreme Court as well as the US Supreme Court. Since 1978, he has handled the defense of juvenile crime cases throughout San Diego County.

Juvenile Court is very different from San Diego Superior Court adult crime cases. When a juvenile commits a crime, he or she is alleged to be “delinquent” and the juvenile court gets involved to intervene and correct the delinquency. You need an experienced and skilled San Diego juvenile court attorney.

San Diego juvenile delinquency cases involve a criminal law violation that is charged against a “minor” (the law defines a person under the age of 18 as a juvenile).

On the other hand, dependency cases involve the prosecution alleging child abuse or child neglect against the parents or guardian of the minor. We handle all of these juvenile cases.

Child Crime Penalties

The penalty for a  crime in juvenile court cases include a variety of choices by a Judge, including when a powerful argument is made for treatment programs, community supervision; otherwise, there are strict fines, detention and even incarceration. However, the juvenile crime Judge will consider the severity of the offense and the background of the juvenile.

In a Juvenile Court case, you need a top San Diego juvenile defense attorney. In summary, the juvenile may be placed in juvenile detention depending on the severity of the crime or the juvenile may be incarcerated. Even truancy, or repeated absence from school, is a juvenile crime that carries consequences. Often, however, juvenile crimes arise as a result of challenges at school.

If we are retained as your defense lawyer, we will in appropriate cases fight to obtain special services for our student-client so he/she can succeed in school and positively affect the juvenile court case.

We use the term “youthful offender” as opposed to juvenile delinquent when we refer to our client.

We have available and can use a private investigator to assist in developing the juvenile court defense case. Additionally, we have access to and use a forensic psychologist as well as a neuropsychologist as expert witnesses. These are important tools we employ if we are retained to represent your child or loved one.

Juvenile courts have separate rules and procedures from adult criminal courts. For example, juveniles are not entitled to a jury trial, but rather are tried before a judge.

If a juvenile commits a more violent crime such as murder, the prosecutor may seek to have the juvenile tried as an adult.

Because of the special rules and circumstances surrounding juvenile crimes, it is important to obtain private legal counsel. At Spital & Associates, our focus is on the “rehabilitation” and not punishment of our client. We hope you will select our San Diego juvenile delinquency attorneys.

A minor can be transferred from juvenile court to the adult Superior Court and tried as an adult in certain serious and/or violent crime matters, even if the minor is only age 14; the Juvenile Court Judge generally determines whether it is appropriate to make such a transfer. However, the District Attorney has discretion in specified serious juvenile crime cases to file a charge against a minor in the adult Superior Court.

Child Crime Defense of the following cases:

  • Juvenile crimes at school
  • Juvenile dependency hearings
  • Driving under the influence — under age 21 (DUI)
  • Driving on a suspended license (DSL)
  • Possession of drugs
  • Possession of drugs for sale
  • Sale of drugs
  • Sex crimes
  • Vandalism
  • Sealing juvenile records

If your child has been arrested, he or she can either be cited and released or detained at a juvenile detention facility.

If your child is in custody, the District Attorney must file the petition within 48 hours of the time the minor is detained excluding weekends and holidays. The law requires strict compliance otherwise the minor is entitled to be released while his case is pending. Recently, after filing a writ of habeas corpus the Second District Court of Appeal ordered a juvenile court judge to release a minor on an over-detained case.

If your minor child is in custody, the first court proceeding is a Juvenile Detention Hearing. At this hearing, the judge or referee makes a determination whether (to continue) to detain the minor child “pending adjudication of the charges.”

The Probation Officer provides his/her analysis along with the Deputy District Attorney.

You may use the Public Defender or retain a private and highly experienced San Diego Juvenile Defense Attorney. Call Spital & Associates at 619.583.0350 from as early as 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. or even later as needed any day of the week and we will answer your questions and provide legal advice if you desire a top San Diego Juvenile Attorney.

What Criteria is Relied Upon at the Juvenile Detention Hearing?

The criteria are as follows:

  1. For the protection of the person or property of another it is deemed reasonably necessary that the minor child be detained.
  2. For the protection of the minor child, it is deemed a matter of immediate and urgent necessity.
  3. It is deemed the minor child is a flight risk and will not appear in court.
  4. The minor child has violated a prior court order.

At the juvenile detention hearing the minor child’s attorney will enter a plea admitting or denying the “Petition” (this is the Complaint). Most attorneys will deny the petition pending evaluation of the prosecution’s case.

If your child is detained, he or she has a right to a speedy trial to take place within 15 court days of the arraignment. If your child is not in custody, the speedy trial requires an adjudication date within 30 calendar days.

Juvenile Arraignment Date

If your minor child is not in custody, the first court date is called an “Arraignment.” At this time, the minor child’s San Diego juvenile defense attorney will enter a denial of the Petition and set the “Pretrial Hearing” and a “Court date.”

Juvenile Pretrial Date

The purpose of the Juvenile Pretrial Date is for the prosecution and defense lawyers to discuss a possible resolution to the case and to discuss other outstanding issues, including the investigation and discovery of evidence and potential witnesses.

If your juvenile minor child is in custody, this must be set up the week following the arraignment unless time is waived. The pretrial date as well as the court trial date can be set at a later date if the minor child’s attorney and minor child agree to a later date.

If your child is not in custody and unless time is waived, the pretrial date is often set two to three weeks after the arraignment.

Many Juvenile Court Judges are open to discussing a resolution of the Juvenile Court case though a private conference in their chambers. This is when an experienced lawyer is of great assistance. We are masters of persuasion! Call Spital & Associates now and speak to the Managing Attorney at 619.583.0350.

Juvenile Court Trial/Juvenile Court Adjucation

When the Juvenile Court case is set for “Adjudication,” this is the time for a Juvenile Court trial. Unlike Superior Court where adult cases are handled, the minor child is not entitled to a jury trial. Instead, Juvenile Court trials are presided over by a Judge or Commissioner, and this individual is considered both the judge (as to legal issues) and the trier of fact.

We encourage you to retain an experienced San Diego juvenile court attorney who is very familiar with the Juvenile Court proceedings as well as all of the Juvenile Court Judges and Commissioners.

Most attorneys are not sufficiently qualified and experienced to handle Juvenile Court cases and they are not on the “attorney list” maintained by the Juvenile Court. They may not realize there is no bail and no jury trial in Juvenile Court. To assure your child’s freedom in a Juvenile Court case, you should retain an experienced, powerful and smart attorney.

At Spital & Associates, our Senior Associate Attorney has over 35 years of experience; he knows the Judges and Commissioners and which ones may not be as favorable as the others.

Pursuant to Penal Code section 170.6, a minor child has a right to an unbiased judge. However, the minor child’s attorney must challenge the judge’s impartiality immediately or be deemed to have waived that right. This is another example of when a sharp and proactive lawyer is important.

As your San Diego Juvenile Defense Attorney at Spital & Associates, we can help protect your child’s rights to get the best legal result possible. If your son or daughter is arrested or investigated for a juvenile crime, contact us at 619.583.0350 or send an e-mail now so that we can help.


Main Offices
8880 Rio San Diego Drive, Suite 800
San Diego, CA 92108-1642
Telephone: 619-583-0350
Fax: 619-583-1850


Associates available 7 Days.
Call (619) 583-0350 or send us an e-mail.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.