Attorney for Teenager

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18-year-old arrested and jailed for shoplifting

May 2009

My kid turned 18 and then one week later was arrested for shoplifting. He was with another 18 yr old who ran away and was not caught. He was not allowed to call anyone, was transported to Martinez to the county jail, strip searched and held for 24 hours until one of his friends called up to tell us what happened and we were able to bail him out. Now, don't get me wrong, we know he broke the law and there will be consequences. But hello? First time arrest, he's the size of a 12 year old and the most non-threatening young man you could imagine. I cannot fathom the wisdom of a justice system that treats people this way. He was called every name in the book by the officers, including 'faggot'. But I digress... We need the name of an good attorney. He has no record and is attending college. Yes, he's an idiot, but he's our idiot and we want him to learn from this without it ruining his life. Any recomendations/advice appreciated. there but for the grace of god...

You asked for lawyers, so here are names: Dan O'Malley (formerly both a DA and a judge in CoCoCo) - (925) 356-2200, Rick Madsen -- (925) 974-0800. Both are good (as are O'Malley's partners, if he is unavailable), and can handle this with their eyes closed. Also, your son may be eligible for public defender services; the PDs are good and this is very routine.

But first, take a deep breath. Was this a big mistake? Yes. Will he learn the important lesson? Let's hope so. But his life is not over, and you may not need a lawyer at all. If your son has no record, and really just shoplifted (i.e., took stuff and left, but didn't possess drugs, fight with store employees to get away, use others' credit cards, or anything like that), he is looking at a misdemeanor petty theft. The CoCo DA has stated very publicly that he will be forced, with looming budget cuts, to stop prosecuting petty theft misdemeanors. So although there was an arrest, the DA may not choose to pursue the case. If they do prosecute, there is a pre-plea diversion program in the DA's office for first time offenders of minor misdos like petty theft. He would pay some fines, attend a theft awareness class, and do some community service. If he kept his nose clean and did everything he was supposed to, and got no new arrests, at the end of the diversion period (usually two years), the case would be dismissed. If he blew it, then criminal proceedings would be reinstated and he might need a lawyer. He of course has to show up on the date set on the bail bond, and any other date set in a notice he gets from the court. If a complaint has been filed, he will almost certainly be offered diversion at arraignment, and can do it on the spot, with or without a lawyer. If he wants to talk to a lawyer first, he will get time to retain one or can ask for the PD. So you might wait and see if there is a complaint filed. The most important thing is to make HIM handle this, as much as possible, on his own. Make him research his options, decide about and hire any lawyer, pay the fees. There is a great pamphlet (on line and hard copy) for kids about turning 18, and the legal consequences. Make him read it. Good luck. Know the ropes

welcome to the ''system''... all the great things we think about police officers evaporate rather quickly when one of our kids gets into trouble...

i suggest you call a GREAT defense attorney: Diana Weiss. She helped my son out of a pickle a couple years ago. My son was also locked up and we didn't focus on the poor treatment he received from the Berkeley Police Department, we focused on his transgression and moving on. The police have to deal with so much crap, maybe they were doing a ''scare him straight'' exercise.

Your son screwed up and he needs a good attorney and she is it! I hope you can afford to help him out financially and emotionally. Good luck.

contact Diana Weiss 510 847 1012 or dianaweiss [at] signed ~ dad in Berkeley

I'm sorry your son was treated so poorly by jail authorities. This must have been a frightening and degrading experience. The good news is that, depending on the circumstances, there is a chance your son can walk away from this without the blemish of a theft conviction. In Contra Costa County, a first-time shoplifter may be eligible for ''diversion.'' This means he would be required to do community service, attend a theft awareness class, pay a fine and stay out of trouble for a year. After that year is up, the case against him would be dismissed. Avoiding a conviction can be critical, especially for an 18-year-old with many years of job hunting ahead of him. Unfortunately, we have seen far too often how a criminal conviction, even for a minor offense, can hamper future employment opportunities. My firm, Gagen-McCoy, is one of the oldest and most respected in Contra Costa County. We have resolved countless of these types of cases for clients who, like your son, are good people who make one bad mistake. Any of our criminal defense attorneys -- Bill Gagen, Mike Markowitz, Amanda Bevins, or Ross Pytlik -- would be happy to speak with you and your son about this process. Look us up on the web at or give us a call at (925) 837-0585. Lauren
Attorney Mary P Carey has lots of experience working with teenagers. Tel 925-943-1843 Good luck! anon
you need to call colin and kellin cooper (they're brothers) of cooper law offices in berkeley. 558.8400.

here is a blurb from their website: Cooper Law Offices is one of the premier criminal defense firms in Northern California. We focus solely on criminal defense. We have a reputation for vigorously, aggressively, and successfully representing clients whether they are charged with murder or a simple traffic ticket.

call today. they're simply the BEST! satisfied client (and no convictions)

14-year-old was arrested for knife at school

March 2009

I need help! I have a 14-year old grandson, who has ADD/PTSD/Asperger's Syndrome. Twice, he has taken a boyscout knife to school, showed it during a confrontation with a kid who was encouraging him to fight him, was arrested, and now has received State of California Arraignment papers. Does anyone know where we can go to get legal and community advocacy help?. This is a kid who has an 10yr old's emotional and mental age.

Does your grandson have an IEP? If so, you can request a manifestation hearing. Here is some info from ''A manifestation determination meeting is triggered by some disciplinary action that will effectively change a student's placement. For instance, if a student is suspended for more than 10 days or expelled or if they are going to an alternative school or boot camp or to a more restrictive setting.

The purpose of the manifestation hearing is to answer 2 basic questions:
- Are whatever charges against a student a manifestation of their disability? and
- Are whatever charges brought against a student a direct result of the school\xc2\x92s failure to provide services to the student as outlined in the IEP?''

For more info you can also contact DREDF (Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund: Best of luck! Jan

I do know someone who might be able help you. Jora Trang is an attorney I met at a KidPower workshop. My recollection is that she works with teens with legal problems. I was impressed by her caring. You can reach her at 415-515-9341.

Also consider sending your child to a KidPower workshop to learn ''People Safety'' skills. He will learn how to handle situations like this non-violently, knowing how to defuse a situation and when to walk away. He also will learn self-defense skills for use as a last resort. My family recently took a FamilyPower workshop with them and all 3 of us had fun and feel much more confident about handling possible troublesome situations safely. They have experience teaching kids with developmental delays. I encourage you to contact Irene van der Zande or Ericka at safety [at] and describe your situation. They are warm and reassuring and can advise you which workshop would be best for him. You also can go to the KidPower site at I highly recommended their workshops for all adults and kids, even those who are preschoolers. Nancy

Need a criminal attorney for marijuana possession

May 2000

Does anyone know of a really good criminal attorney who can help with a case in which a 17 year old boy was cited for possession of a small amount of marijuana? I'm looking for someone who is legally savvy as well as knowledgeable about diversion programs. Thanks very much. anonymous

re attorney for teenager. One of the best is Cris Arguedas. Office in Emeryville. She's expensive, but as good as they get. Martina
Try Larry Picetti, 865-0441. Very experienced, and savvy. Laurel
I'm writing to recommend a lawyer a friend used to deal with her daughter's DUI. He's got a great reputation in the legal community. His name is Ted Kassman 654-2000 Winifred
You might want to consider consulting with the Public Defender before paying private attorney fees. This might easily be handled without any court appearances. Sherry
I don't know what city you're in, but you can try Elizabeth Grossman in Berkeley. Her # is (510) 524-4141. She has helped many people I know out of much bigger jams than a small amount of marijuana. If she can't help you, she will definitely know who can. E.B.
An excellent one is Deborah Levine, located somewhere in the (925) area. She used to be a kids' public defender (for many years), has teenage sons, and is an excellent and knowledgeable advocate. LB