Juvenile Delinquency Privacy In Proceedings


When a minor child is charged with misdemeanor or felony charges in San Mateo County, Santa Clara County, San Francisco County, Alameda County or Marin County, the public is generally excluded from any of the proceedings that occur in juvenile court. However, when the District Attorney alleges in a petition that the minor has committed certain serious offenses (enumerated below), the public may be admitted on the same basis as they are in adult criminal proceedings. An experienced juvenile delinquency defense attorney can help protect your minor's rights to privacy by attempting to limit the public's presence in the courtroom or to keep the identity of the minor confidential. This effort is especially important in petitions alleging serious felonies where significant local public attention may focus on your minor and the alleged victim.

Below is a list of rules generally outlining who is entitled to be present at juvenile court proceedings, who is not, and exceptions to the exclusions.1

Persons Allowed to be Present at Juvenile Proceedings

  • The following individuals are entitled to be present at juvenile proceedings:
    • The minor.
    • The parents, guardian or adult relative.
    • The defense attorney, counsel or lawyer representing the juvenile and/or the parents, guardian or adult relative.
    • The probation officer or social worker.
    • The prosecuting attorney.
    • Court-appointed special advocates.
    • A representative of a Native American juvenile's tribe.
    • The court clerk.
    • The official court reporter.
    • A bailiff.
    • Any other person entitled to notice under Welfare & Institutions Code Sections 290.1 and 290.2.
    • The victim.
  • Individuals, such as psychologists, probation officers, experts, professionals, doctors, or the media, whom have a direct and legitimate interest in a particular case or the work of the court, may be allowed to attend the proceedings.
  • The juvenile, any parent or guardian, or adult relative, who is present at the proceedings, can request public admittance.

General Rule of Public Exclusion in Juvenile Proceedings

  • In a juvenile proceeding, the public is generally excluded.

Exceptions to the General Rule of Public Exclusion in Juvenile Proceedings

  • In certain serious felonies the public must be admitted into juvenile court proceedings on the same basis that they are admitted into adult criminal proceedings.
  • The public must be admitted to the juvenile court proceedings when a juvenile is charged with the commission of any one of the following serious offenses:
    • Murder.
    • Arson of an inhabited building.
    • Robbery while armed with a dangerous or deadly weapon.
    • Rape with force or violence or threat of great bodily harm.
    • Sodomy by force, violence, duress, menace, or threat of great bodily harm.
    • Oral copulation by force, violence, duress, menace, or threat of great bodily harm.
    • Any offense specified in Penal Code Section 289(a) (penetration by foreign object).
    • Kidnapping for ransom.
    • Kidnapping in violation of Penal Code Section 209(b).
    • Kidnapping with bodily harm.
    • Assault with intent to murder or attempted murder.
    • Assault with a firearm or destructive device.
    • Assault by any means of force likely to produce great bodily injury.
    • Discharge of a firearm into an inhabited or occupied building.
    • Any offense described in Penal Code Section 1203.09 (crimes against aged or handicapped).
    • Certain weapons offenses committed by a minor 16 years of age or older, as described in Penal Codes Sections 12020 and 12022.5.
    • Residential burglary if the minor is already a ward of the court.
    • Any felony offense described in Penal Code Section 136.1 (intimidation of witnesses and victims) or 137 (influencing testimony or information given to law enforcement officer).
    • Certain controlled-substance offenses as specified in Health & Safety Code Sections 11351, 11351.5, 11352, 11378, 11378.5, 11379, and 11379.5.
    • Criminal street gang activity that constitutes a felony pursuant to Penal Code Section 186.22.
    • Manslaughter as specified in Penal Code Section 192, drive-by shooting or discharge of a weapon from or at a motor vehicle as specified in Penal Code Sections 246, 247, and 12034.
    • Any crime committed with an assault weapon, as defined in Penal Code Section 12276, including possession of an assault weapon as specified in Penal Code section 12280(b).
    • Carjacking, while armed with a dangerous or deadly weapon.
    • Kidnapping, in violation of Penal Code Section 209.5.
    • Torture, as describe in Penal Code Sections 206, 206.1.
    • Aggravated mayhem, in violation of Penal Code Section 205.
  • When certain offenses are charged in a petition, a prosecutor's witness is entitled to choose the attendance of up to two family members or support persons. The offenses include the following:
    • Murder [Penal Code Section 187].
    • Mayhem [Penal Code Section 203].
    • Aggravated Mayhem [Penal Code Section 205].
    • Kidnapping [Penal Code Section 207].
    • Robbery [Penal Code Section 211].
    • Carjacking [Penal Code Section 215].
    • Assault with intent to commit mayhem, rape, rape in concert, sodomy, oral copulation, lewd or lascivious act on child, or penetration by foreign object [Penal Code Section 220].
    • Assault [Penal Code Section 240].
    • Battery [Penal Code Section 242].
    • Sexual Battery [Penal Code Section 243.4].
    • Assault with a deadly weapon [Penal Code Section 245].
    • Rape [Penal Code Section 261].
    • Spousal Rape [Penal Code section 262].
    • Willful cruelty or unjustifiable punishment on a child rape [Penal Code section 273a].
    • Corporal punishment or injury [Penal Code Section 273d].
    • Corporal punishment or injury on spouse or cohabitant [Penal Code Section 273.5].
    • Violation of court order relating to child abandonment or neglect [Penal Code section 273.6].
    • Taking minor from person or public agency [Penal Code Section 277].
    • Incest [Penal Code Section 285].
    • Sodomy [Penal Code Section 286].
    • Lewd or lascivious act on child or dependent adult [Penal code Section 288].
    • Oral copulation [Penal Code Section 288a].
    • Resident child molester [Penal Code Section 288.5].
    • Penetration by foreign object [Penal Code Section 289].
    • Indecent exposure [Penal Code Section 314(1)].
    • Child molestation [Penal Code section 647.6].

Protecting your Minor's Right to Privacy

  • A juvenile has a right to exclude the public or the media from a juvenile court proceeding if the minor can demonstrate a reasonable likelihood of substantial prejudice to his or her right to receive a fair and impartial trial.
  • The juvenile can motion the court to keep the juvenile's name and likeness confidential when the juvenile court proceedings have been opened to the public.

1All information contained below within this informational page is attributed to: Seiser and Kumli, California Juvenile Courts Practice and Procedure (2008 ed.), 1.01 to 4.01.