December 2015
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When Can Juveniles Be Tried As Adults? 
Typically, minors who are accused of a crime in California are treated differently than their adult counterparts. Juvenile offenses are usually adjudicated as delinquency matters in the juvenile courts, which are designed to promote rehabilitation over punishment.

However, under California law, juvenile offenders may be tried as adults in certain circumstances. California law blanketly prohibits prosecution of children under the age of 14. Juveniles aged 14 and older may be prosecuted in court just like adults when accused of specific crimes denoted in the California Welfare & Institutions Code.

Some listed offenses require automatic trial as an adult. Those crimes include murder with specific attached circumstances and some sex offenses. Not all crimes are automatic triggers for an adult trial; remaining offenses for which a juvenile may be tried as an adult require a finding that the child is unfit for rehabilitation in the juvenile justice system.

To reach this conclusion, the prosecutor must file a petition for a fitness hearing to determine the child's capacity for rehabilitation. During the hearing, a juvenile court judge will evaluate the child's fitness based on five criteria. Those criteria include the degree of criminal sophistication exhibited, whether the child can be fully rehabilitated before aging out of the juvenile court's jurisdiction, the minor's history of delinquency, the minor's degree of success in previous rehabilitation attempts, and the gravity of the offenses alleged against the minor.

If the juvenile court judge determines that the child is unlikely to benefit from the rehabilitative services of a the court, the child will be transferred to adult court where he or she may face traditional criminal prosecution as an adult. If convicted, the child will be eligible for all of the same penalties as an adult, which can be severe.

For more information about juvenile delinquency and juvenile rights, or to discuss options after your child has been charged with an offense, contact the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry by calling 866.902.6880 or visiting us online at
Can an Anonymous Phone Call Be The Basis For A DUI Arrest?  
Being arrested and charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) can be a traumatic experience. The consequences can be equally painful, even if you are not ultimately convicted of DUI. Drinking and driving charges can result in difficulty obtaining employment, along with disclosure responsibilities for certain background checks, and will hinder your ability to engage in day to day activities that require travel.

Motorists who are convicted of DUI will face added difficulties. Depending on the circumstances of the case, a DUI conviction can result in large fines, multiple years of probation, suspension of driving privileges for six months or more, and even jail time. Therefore, it is important to understand what can lead to traffic stops and questioning by law enforcement on suspicion of DUI.

Excluding the special legal exception for DUI roadblocks, law enforcement officers in California must have a proper legal basis for making a traffic stop. Normally, an officer's reasonable suspicion that a vehicle is involved in an ongoing crime creates the necessary legal basis.

One of the most shocking ways an officer can acquire reasonable suspicion is through an anonymous phone call.

What Is Reasonable Suspicion?
Reasonable suspicion is a legal standard established to determine when a law enforcement officer is justified in detaining and questioning a citizen for a brief period of time. In a traffic stop context, this means that an officer only needs a reasonable suspicion that a driver is breaking the law and order the car to stop. It is not necessary for the officer to initially have a particularized suspicion that the driver is drinking and driving, for example, but only that the driver has violated a traffic law.

The reasonable suspicion standard exists to protect people from being stopped and interrogated when there is no practical basis to suspect that the person being detained is committing an ongoing crime. Despite the importance of having a clear standard to apply, neither the legislature nor the courts have defined specifically what is required to establish reasonable suspicion.

The analysis used by the courts to test for reasonable suspicion generally does not rely on a single factor. Instead, to determine whether the police had reasonable suspicion that would justify a particular detention, the courts consider the totality of the circumstances by examining several facts. Those facts can include the apparent reliability of the information used by the detaining officer; vague reports of a possible crime or reports from a questionable source might weigh against the officer's suspicion being found reasonable. The particularity of the information used by the officer may also be salient. General citizen complaints of misconduct that cannot be connected to a particular person or vehicle, or mere hunches by the officer that criminality is afoot, would also likely not support a finding of reasonable suspicion.

Citizen Complaints and Officer Observations
Many traffic offenses such as a DUI do not require intent, which means that a police officer only needs to have clear and articulable facts indicating some likelihood that a person has violated the law in order to initiate a traffic stop. Without such facts, the stop will not be valid.

For example, suppose an officer witnesses a vehicle change lanes without signaling first. If the officer initiated a traffic stop on that basis, the officer could then lawfully check whether the driver holds a valid license to drive, whether the vehicle is compliant with registration and insurance requirements, and inquire about the driver's reason for making the unsafe maneuver. If a police department receives a citizen complaint that a vehicle of a certain description has been changing lanes without signaling, or committing some other violation, an officer can attempt to locate the vehicle to observe it. 

If the officer observes the vehicle doing something prohibited by law, the officer can lawfully detain the vehicle and its driver to investigate. But what if the officer follows the vehicle and does not observe any illegal acts yet still initiates a traffic stop? And what if the underlying citizen complaint was made anonymously, preventing the detained driver from ever questioning the original accuser?

Anonymous Phone Calls
Last year the United States Supreme Court considered this exact scenario and held that the traffic stop was legal because the details the caller gave about the vehicle were very specific, matching the vehicle the officer pulled over, and because the Court presumed the 911 system is not susceptible to false reports of illegal activity.

In a scathing dissent, Justice Scalia described the infirmities of the majority's decision. The dissent first inventories all of the missing information about the anonymous caller that prevent any assessment of her credibility: the police did not know her name, nor her address, nor any other helpful information about her. Justice Scalia notes that since all the caller provided was a description and location of the vehicle, any anonymous caller doing the same could call in random vehicles and that would be sufficient to support a traffic stop.

The dissent concludes by summarizing the new legal standard announced by the majority that (1) anonymous reports of traffic violations are reliable if made through 911 and they correctly identify a car and its location, and (2) one reported occurrence of careless or reckless driving may support a law enforcement officer's reasonable suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

For that reason, DUI defense has reached a new level of criticality. Anyone accused of driving under the influence should speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, our attorneys will review your DUI charges and determine your best line of defense.

For more information about defending accusations of DUI or other criminal charges, visit To set up a free initial consultation with one of our defense attorneys, call 866.902.6880 today.
Virginia Landry

Virginia L. Landry received her undergraduate degree from Northern Arizona University in 1982. She then went on to pursue her law degree from Western State University, graduating in 1988. The following year, Ms. Landry opened her own Law Office. As a nationally recognized Board Certified DUI Defense Attorney Specialist, Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney Virginia L. Landry, is able to practice law within all the California state courts and the Central District Court of the United States.


As a criminal defense lawyer with years of litigation and trial experience, Ms. Landry is fully prepared to handle criminal cases involving violent crimes, white collar crimes, theft crimes, sex crimes, juvenile crimes, drug crimes, weapons charges, and domestic violence. Attorney Landry has successfully represented clients facing a variety of complex misdemeanor and felony charges.

In addition to her current position as Regent for the National College for DUI Defense (NCDD), Virginia serves on the Board of Directors for the California DUI Lawyers Association  as its Secretary. Virginia is one of only a handful of attorneys across the nation who is Board Certified in DUI Defense. She has also received her  certificate of instruction , successfully training participants in DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing Student and Instructor courses.


Virginia Landry served on two committees and was on the Orange County Bar Association's Board of Directors for three years, is a past President and current member of the West Orange County Bar Association, is currently a Sustaining Member for the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice and is a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Other local bar associations include the North Orange County Bar Association, The Newport Harbor Bar Association, the South Harbor Bar Association, the Western State University Alumni Association, the Northern Arizona University Alumni Association and the Warren J. Ferguson Inns of Court.