In California, the youth make up a huge portion of the energy and culture. Whether they are skating, making rap and hip hop, or spearheading human rights protests, the youth always seem to be at the forefront. Unfortunately, adolescence can be difficult, and some young people have the misfortune of growing up in inopportune situations. This can lead to frustration, anger, and other negative emotions, which can prompt minors to rebel and commit crimes.

To understand how to defend yourself, or a young person you care about, in a situation involving criminal charges, it’s important to know what the common juvenile offenses are in California. This can help you prepare by avoiding situations that lead to juvenile charges and learning how they can be dealt with.

Common California Juvenile Offenses

While the offenses committed by minors in California may depend on the region of the state, among other conditions, such as the time of the year, there are generally some cases that are commonly found to be committed by juveniles, such as:

  • This crime is only associated with underage individuals, as it involves the requirement to attend school. When minors start to miss too many days, and they do not provide justification or get permission, they are actually breaking the law and can be charged for this in juvenile court.
  • Gang-related offenses. There is a lot of pressure on young people in low-income areas to join a gang as a false promise to gain financial advantages and social prestige. This, unfortunately, causes a lot of minors to join these groups and become involved in the illegal activity associated with them. This leads to charges against offenses that take place on and off school grounds.
  • Often, minors are charged with destroying property that is not theirs, such as public or private property. This can be in the form of graffiti, smashing windows, arson, and other forms of destruction.
  • Assault or battery. Young people may be charged for aggressive behavior towards others, and the charges can be escalated if they were using a weapon, such as a knife or gun. Threatening people with violence can fall under this category.
  • Underage drinking. Minors who are drinking can face charges for illegally consuming, or even buying, alcohol. Depending on their blood alcohol level, they may face higher charges. They can also be charged for identity theft if they used a fake ID to purchase alcohol.
  • A minor who is operating a vehicle with any level of alcohol in their system will receive a DUI charge. These are commonly issued in cities where public transport is nonexistent or unreliable, and the youth have to rely on automobiles to move around.
  • Drug charges. Minors can be charged with simple possession or, if they have over a certain amount of a certain drug, they may be charged with the intent to sell. Drugs that minors are commonly charged with carrying and distributing illegally are marijuana, cocaine, and prescription stimulants.
  • Some minors get charged with stealing when they commit crimes such as shoplifting or burglary. Shoplifting is particularly common for young people. Burglary implies a person breaking and entering into private property, such as a home or a car, to take something that they are not in possession of.
  • Any form of online harassment or cyberbullying can be considered a crime in California if the case is serious enough. These incidents can commonly happen on social media sites, such as TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram.

If you or your loved one are facing one of these common criminal charges in juvenile court, this can be an extremely difficult time. Minors should be in school learning, growing, and exploring, and certainly not worrying about what will happen next with their criminal case.


Q: What Should I Do If My California Case Is Getting Moved From Juvenile to Adult Court?

A: If the judge is trying to move your case from juvenile court to adult court, and you are still a minor, it is important to get in touch with an experienced juvenile defense lawyer as soon as possible. A strong juvenile defense attorney should be knowledgeable about the processes and legal framework of both juvenile and adult court. They can work with you to plan a defense to help you advocate for yourself and defend your rights.

Q: What Is the Most Common Juvenile Court Disposition?

A: Disposition in juvenile court is considered to be the equivalent of a penalty in adult court. The disposition ruled on in a juvenile case will vary depending on the severity of the charges, the minor’s age, if there were repeat offenses, and other factors. There is no “most common” disposition. The judge may choose to assign:

  • Probation
  • Sentencing in juvenile detention
  • Therapy
  • Counseling
  • Programs to develop in school and work
  • Restitution
  • Community service

Q: What Is the Longest That a Minor Can Be on California Probation?

A: There is no particular limit on the amount of time that a minor can spend on probation. This length of time will vary based on the factors that the judge takes into account, like:

  • Age
  • Adherence to probation
  • Any progress made
  • The severity of the convicted crime

In a serious case, a minor can be on probation for years at a time. To better understand the potential time on probation that you could be facing, it’s recommended to contact a juvenile defense lawyer.

Q: What Is the Worst Penalty That a California Juvenile Offender Can Get?

A: A California juvenile offender who receives the highest penalty in juvenile court, based on the crime committed, their age, and the number of repeat offenses, will be facing time in a juvenile detention center. In a case where the crime committed is particularly severe, their case could be transferred to adult court. In adult court, the minor could face the same charges as adults, including being incarcerated in an adult prison.

Securing Your Loved One’s Young Years With a California Juvenile Defense Lawyer

At My SoCal Lawyers, our defense lawyers understand the importance of defending youth against criminal charges. We have years of experience working closely with youth to get their penalties minimized or even the case dropped. Contact a juvenile defense lawyer on our team today to learn more about how we can help you with your case.