After your child is arrested or receives a citation for court, law enforcement will send their investigative reports to the District Attorney’s Office. That office will review the reports and decide whether or not to file a petition charging your child with a crime. If your child was detained when arrested, the Probation Department will generally notify you of your child's court date. Otherwise, your child’s court date is listed on the citation.
First Hearing: Detention Hearing
At the first hearing, your child’s attorney will receive a copy of the police report. If your child is detained, an attorney can ask the judge to release your child. This is called a "detention hearing," and the judge can keep your child detained, release him on house arrest, or release her outright.
If the case is not filed within 48 court hours of your child’s detention, your child is entitled to be released. If the case was timely filed, only a judge has the power to release a juvenile. Juveniles are not entitled to bail. If the judge does not release your child at the detention hearing, an attorney can request it later only if a "change of circumstance" exists which the judge did not realize earlier.
Admit or Deny Charges?
Your child either admits or denies the charges in a petition. The safest course of action at the first hearing is to deny the petition. This gives an attorney time to work on the best outcome for your child’s case.
Juvenile court judges have a very wide-range of potential alternatives when faced with a child accused of committing a crime. More so than adult court, juvenile court judges have a wide-range of potential outcomes when faced with a child accused of committing a crime. Some examples of these outcomes include but are not limited to:
A diversion program in the criminal justice system run by a police department, court, a district attorney's office, or outside agency designed to enable offenders of criminal law to avoid criminal charges and a criminal record
A youth detention center, also known as juvenile hall, is a secure residential facility for young people, often termed juvenile delinquents, awaiting court hearings and/or placement in long-term care facilities and programs
If a child aged 14 or over is accused of a felony crime, the juvenile court can transfer the case to adult criminal court. Trying a child as an adult is a very serious matter and is most common in cases where there are allegations of violence.
A punishment given out as part of a sentence which means that instead of jailing a person convicted of a crime, a judge will order that the person reports to a probation officer regularly and according to a set schedule.
Talk to an Attorney
If your child was arrested, you may be nervous about what could happen to your child. It is important that you work with an attorney experienced in juvenile defense work. Your child needs an attorney who knows juvenile law, not a criminal defense attorney who occasionally handles juvenile cases. The Juvenile criminal defense attorneys at Marcie Gardner have that experience.