April 19, 2009 By Wallin & Klarich

In a tragic story published in the Los Angeles Times, a 12 year old Beaumont boy had been accused of shooting and killing his friend, who was also 12. The boy was arrested and booked into Riverside Juvenile Hall on suspicion of murder in California. Police have also arrested the parents of the boy, Patricia and Christopher Willis, and charged them with negligent storage of firearms and child endangerment.

The boys were determined to be home on a school day, unsupervised, while the parents were at work. A search of the home by police produced several unsecured firearms, some of which were loaded. According to the story, the boy called 911 at about 10:40am and said that he had heard a gunshot and that his friend was injured. Police arrived shortly afterwards and found the 2nd boy dead, with an apparent gunshot wound.

“We’re still trying to figure out if this was accidental or on purpose,” said Beaumont police spokeswoman Darci Carranza.

Homicide in California is one of the most serious criminal offenses one can face. The legal stakes cannot be any higher. Having a juvenile being charged with this type of crime complicates matters greatly. Juvenile courts deal with two types of offenses. Minors charged with “status offenses” are accused of doing something that would have been legal but for the minors age when doing the act. This can include minor in possession of alcohol or driving a vehicle before the minor has been issued a license to drive a motor vehicle.

The above mentioned is a less serious category of charges than “delinquency crimes,” which are offenses committed by a minor that would be crimes regardless of age. While at this point it is still unclear as to how the D.A.’s office will proceed in the prosecution of this matter, judging from the boy’s extremely young age (12), the parents will most likely bear the brunt of the charges.

In instances when a juvenile over the age of 14 is accused of certain serious crimes, the prosecutor may decide to try him as an “adult”. When a juvenile is facing such a charge it is critical that they retain the services of an experienced California juvenile criminal defense attorney. In a case where a juvenile is tried as an adult this means that if he is found guilty he can face “adult consequences,” which can mean many years in prison.

The top Riverside criminal defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich believe that it is always in a minors best interest to retain a highly experienced juvenile criminal defense law firm. You can reach them to set up an appointment at 1-888-280-6839, or visit their website, www.wklaw.com, for more information.

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