Riverside County Law Offices of the Public Defender
Frank is a third year law student, father, and husband. This upcoming summer he will be returning to the Riverside County Law Offices of the Public Defender to do his second summer with their office. This summer he will be working with a different department, and will be assisting in the Juvenile Division. His work will include research, client interviews, writing motions, and trial preparation for supervising attorneys in the office. Working with Juvenile delinquents is a rewarding opportunity for Frank, because prior to law school he worked as a facility manager at a group home where he interacted daily with troubled youth. Having grown up in the same Southern California neighborhood that he is currently working in, Frank would love to return to this community after graduation to help give back.
The Riverside community is predominately Latino, and last summer Frank was able to help walk a number of Spanish speaking clients through their misdemeanor arraignments each day. As the former VP of the Latino Law Student Assoc., he has demonstrated an interest in giving back to the Latino community.
June 27, 2012
It has been five weeks now since I've started my internship here with the public defender’s office, juvenile division. During this time, I've seen the department handle everything from a 10 year old boy charged with murder, to 17 year old charged with shoplifting. The juvenile division is unique for several reasons. Certain crimes allow for various possibilities, more serious crimes allow for a juvenile over the age of 14 to go to adult court and prison. Less serious crimes allow those over 14 to stay in the jurisdiction of juvenile courts, but exclude them from certain types of probation. One specific type of probation that is caught in this conundrum is 790 WIC Deferred Entry of Judgment probation. It essentially offers the juvenile the opportunity to complete informal probation for 1 year. After successfully complying with the terms of their probation, the petition is dismissed and the arrested is deemed to have never have occurred. The judge then orders the record to be sealed and destroyed.
It sounds like a dream come true, but it has its flaws. This type of probation is not offered to clients who have committed misdemeanors. This puts the clients public defender is a dilemma. Clients overcharged with felony counts, may opt to not reduce that charge so that they qualify for the DEJ probation. Alternatively, should attorneys ask for a more serious charge only so their clients may now qualify for a DEJ probation. Typically, attorneys in the juvenile field find themselves in the former category. District Attorneys in the juvenile division are more than likely giving the child the stiffest charges possible. This is a common occurrence for two reasons. First, the DA knows that most juvenile offenders receive a slap on the wrist for even the most severe felonies filed in juvenile court. Second, filing a more severe charge, even though it looks like it may be tougher to prove, gives them leeway to offer reduced charges in exchange for a plea agreement. While it’s a complicated web that must be weaved in the handling of juvenile cases, the best child’s best interest as an adult must be taken into consideration at all times.
Journal Entry #2
After this second summer with the public defender’s office, I could never tell someone that this is a boring paper pushing job. With the variety of criminal law covered by the PD’s office, attorneys have the opportunity to experience different aspects of criminal law. My time here in the juvenile division of the pd’s office has given me the opportunity to write motions, memos, and develop trial prep strategy.
Most of my time this summer has been spent working on the case preparation for a 10 year old boy facing first degree murder. The facts are intense, and the research required has kept me busy throughout this summer. It is cases like this that can be emotionally draining for an attorney, as well as being the case that reignites the fire within them. It is a fact intensive case like this which makes this job so fascinating, and keeps attorneys motivated to stay in this field.
When you think every DUI or assault case is exactly the same, you see something new that forces you to put a new spin on your case. After two summers with the Public Defender, I would love to spend my career working in this field. The colleagues are from amazing law schools, the clients are never ending, and the experience is second to none.