The juvenile justice system handles offenders differently from the adult court. The laws governing juvenile delinquency are lenient since the system is aimed at rehabilitation and not punishment. After an arrest, children are likely to be released to go home while awaiting trial. The first appearance in a juvenile court when a minor is facing a petition is the detention hearing.

At the detention hearing, the court determines a child's custody while the case is pending. Depending on the crime committed and the child's criminal history, and the probation officer’s report, the minor could be released to go home with you or detained in juvenile hall. When your child faces a detention hearing, guidance from an attorney is essential to convince the judge to allow them to go home. At Orange County Criminal Lawyer, we will help guide your child and represent them to ensure the best possible detention hearing outcome.

Overview of Detention Hearings in California Juvenile Justice

When a juvenile is arrested for allegedly committing a crime, the arresting officer could warn and release them without filing a petition. However, depending on the severity of the offense's crime and circumstances, the minor could face criminal charges in the juvenile justice system. If a petition is filed, the minor is detained or released while the case is pending. The decision to detain or release a minor after an arrest lies on the probation officer assigned to the juvenile's case.

The first hearing a minor attends after an arrest is the detention hearing. This proceeding helps determine whether the minor will be released to go home or remain in the juvenile hall. Minors arrested and released without detention will not need to attend a detention hearing, and the first court hearing is the arraignment.

In adult criminal cases, being released with a pending case depends on the amount of bail set. Sometimes an adult could be denied bail, or the amount may be too much to raise. In California juvenile cases, there is no right to bail. The only way you can go home with your child is by convincing the judge during the detention hearing. Several factors are considered when deciding to release the juvenile. Therefore, seeking legal guidance for your child is crucial in this initial stage of the case.

What Happens in a Juvenile Detention Hearing in California?

If a minor is scheduled to attend a detention hearing, the minor's parents or guardians are informed. Most juvenile proceedings are not public, and the individuals allowed access to the case include the parents of the minor, the probation officer, and your child's attorney. However, it is crucial to understand that when our child has committed a serious offense, they may be tried as adults. When a minor is tried as an adult, they do not enjoy the confidentiality offered in juvenile cases.

A juvenile detention hearing occurs within forty-eight hours of the minor's arrest if the crime for which they were arrested is not severe. If your child was arrested for a felony or a violent misdemeanor, the detention hearing takes place within seventy-two hours of the arrest.

At the juvenile detention hearing, your child is informed of the charges they are facing. The lawyer will receive a police report detailing the arrest and detention of the minor. The juvenile is then required to enter a plea of not guilty or guilty for the crime they were arrested. Sometimes, the minor could plead not guilty for the reason of insanity or fail to contest the charges. If your child was on probation when they were arrested, they are considered to violate probation, and the issue must be addressed at the detention hearing.

Testimony from a probation officer and the district attorney is presented before the judge makes a decision. These testimonies are often a result of investigations done of the minor. Your child’s attorney is also allowed to give their input on the detention hearing. This is often an opportunity to disregard negative testimonies and convince the judge against detaining the minor.

Two outcomes could result from a detention hearing:

  • Detention

From the probation officer's testimony and a minor's conduct, the judge could decide to detain them while the case is pending. Sometimes, the home environment is not safe for the juvenile or poses a threat to other individuals, making it unsafe to release them.

If your child loses the detention hearing, their attorney could request for a rehearing. A competent criminal attorney will review the factors that prompted the judge to detain your child and contest them. If there is no solid base or the evidence against the juvenile is questionable, they could still be released.

If the court decides that your child should remain in custody, they will stay in juvenile hall until the next hearing. However, minors are entitled to a jurisdiction hearing every fifteen days after losing the detention hearing.

  • Release

If the judge is convinced that your child is not a flight risk and does not have a criminal history, the judge could release the minor to your custody. However, the court may impose several conditions that a minor will be required to follow failure to which they are sent back to detention. Sometimes, the court could place your child on electronic monitoring to ensure they remain home and not violate curfew. When a juvenile is not under electronic monitoring, they could be under supervision by the probation officer.

If a minor is released at the detention hearing and strict rules are imposed, an alleged violation of the law may be reported to the court. When a report of a breach is made, a review hearing could be held to ascertain the claims' validity. At the review hearing, your child's attorney could try to convince that court that the alleged violation of the rules was an accident or the claims are false. The parents of a minor that is facing criminal charges are responsible for ensuring that the child adheres to the court-imposed conditions. Therefore, a review hearing could see your child being placed out of the home.

Rights of Juveniles During a Detention Hearing

Minors facing juvenile cases do not have similar rights to adult offenders. However, since a juvenile detention hearing is formal, your child has the following constitutional rights:

  • Right to legal counsel. If your child is detained in juvenile hall, they have a right to be represented by an attorney. Legal counsel is crucial to ensure that the juvenile can go home while awaiting other hearings.
  • No right to bail. Minors are not entitled to be released on bail. The burden to prove that your child is not fit to be released after the detention hearing lies on testimony from the probation officer. Your child's attorney can counter negative evidence against your child, especially when it's a first offense.
  • Minors have a right to be notified of their charges. During the detention hearing, a juvenile has the right to be informed of their charges. This will help them in making a plea of guilty or not guilty to the charges.
  • Privilege against self-incrimination. When you face criminal charges, the prosecution can use the information you give to the police against you in the case. This is not the case with minors. In a juvenile delinquency proceeding, your child cannot be forced to testify against themselves. 
  • Minors have no right to a jury trial. In the California juvenile justice system, a minor has no right to a jury trial. In a juvenile detention hearing, your child's fate is determined by the judge. When the court decides to detain a minor after the detention hearing, there must be a reasonable and concrete reason to do so.

Parental Rights in Juvenile Detention Hearings

When your child is arrested and faces charges in the juvenile justice system, you have a significant responsibility throughout the juvenile case. It could be devastating not to know where your child is or what is happening to them. Fortunately, you have certain rights that ensure you are informed and involved in your child's issues. Parental rights in juvenile detention hearings include:

  • A Right to be Notified of your Child's Arrest

A detention hearing is the first court appearance if your child is arrested and detained in the juvenile hall. If your child is taken to custody, you have a right to be notified of the arrest. Not knowing where your child is or the things they are involved in is devastating. Learning that your child has been arrested will allow you to seek legal guidance for them. However, you need to understand that your child may be questioned without your presence.

Police officers often try to build a criminal case with the slightest suspicion. Although you do not have a right to be present when your child is questioned, you can advise them to remain silent until their attorney is present.

  • The Right to Seek Legal Guidance for your Child

There are several stages in a juvenile delinquency case that begin with the detention gearing. At each step of the case, you have a right to seek legal guidance for your child. As soon as you are informed of their arrest, it is crucial to contact a competent criminal defense attorney. At the detention hearing, your child's defense attorney will help convince the judge that it will be best to release the minor to your custody while the case is pending. A competent attorney will also cross-examine the evidence presented in an attempt to detain your child.

  • A Right to be Informed of your Child's Rights

Even when your child is suspected of breaking the law, they have rights that need to be protected during the detention hearing. When your child is arrested, you need to know their rights as the detention hearing is scheduled. Most individuals handled by the juvenile justice system are under their parent's care. Therefore, learning your child's rights will help you guide them in the right direction.

Facing the judge in a detention hearing can be traumatizing for a minor, especially when they understand that the hearing is a determinant of their custody. By understanding your child's rights in each stage of the juvenile delinquency case, you can advise them accordingly. 

  • The Right to be Present In the Detention Hearing

The detention hearing is a crucial stage of the juvenile delinquency case. Being separated from your child when they are in the juvenile hall is difficult. The detention hearing allows you to take your child home. Dealing with a delinquency case may be a lot easier when your child is home. This is because you can encourage them and guide them to ensure the best outcome in the case.

You have a right to be present in your child's juvenile hearing. After the probation officer's testimony, you could be asked to give a testimony about your child. After the detention hearings, other hearings are held before the juvenile case's outcome is determined, and you are entitled to be present in all of them.

  • The Right to Inspect your Child's Court File

In most cases, juvenile court proceedings are confidential. A juvenile criminal record can be detrimental to your child's future. Also, your family could suffer significantly when your child's criminal record is public. If your child faces charges in the delinquency court, you have the right to inspect the court case. At the detention hearing, you have the right to look at all information provided by different parties. Other parties that may be allowed to access your child's file include school officials, law enforcement, and your child's legal representative.

If your child faces charges in juvenile court, you will be required to witness the child in a detention hearing. The contents of your report may range from school attendance to the child's overall conduct. A statement from a parent or guardian is a crucial part of the detention hearing, and the information you put out could play a role in the judge's decision. Therefore, it is vital to seek legal guidance before preparing a report on your child.

Factors that Could Prompt the Judge to Detain a Minor after the Detention Hearing

After the testimony from a district attorney, the parents of a minor, and the probation officer, several factors play a part in the judge's decision to detain or release a juvenile from juvenile hall. Some of the factors that could make the court detain a minor following a juvenile detention hearing include:

  1. The minor is a flight risk. Being a flight risk means that the juvenile delinquent will flee and fail to appear for other court hearings. The juvenile detention hearing works more like a bail hearing even though money is not involved. If a child has a history of running away from home or escaping a detention center, the judge will likely detain them. However, your child's lawyer could convince the judge that the minor has been rehabilitated.
  2. The juvenile has a history of violating court orders. Sometimes when a minor is released from juvenile hall pending a juvenile criminal case, the court issues specific rules and curfew instructions. If your child has a history of violating probation or other court orders, the judge may not consider releasing them. This is because violating the court-imposed regulations will cause the minor to be placed back in juvenile hall.
  3. The minor has escaped from juvenile court commitments. If your child is a repeat offender, their juvenile detention hearing could be more complicated. This is because their conduct in the previous case is considered when deciding to detain or release them from juvenile hall. If a juvenile has escaped from the juvenile hall for past offenses, they will likely be detained awaiting the case.
  4. Detaining a minor will ensure their safety. The juvenile justice system strives to ensure the minor's safety and rehabilitate them in all its dealings. After a juvenile is arrested, the probation officer could investigate the child's background and the circumstances that prompted them to commit the alleged crime. Before releasing a minor from juvenile hall, the probation officer will assess the situation at home to ensure that the child is safe and not geared towards committing more crimes after a release. If the home environment is not safe, the minor will remain in the juvenile hall until the court finds a better solution.
  5. The minor is a threat to the safety of other people or property. A juvenile could be arrested for several crimes ranging from violation of curfew to murder or sexual assault. The severity of the crime for which your child was arrested could significantly determine the detention hearing's outcome. If there are victims, the court will consider their safety when making a decision. If your child is deemed a threat to other people's safety, they may be detained further. Also, if the minor committed a crime involving property destruction, the property's safety could be a factor to determine the outcome of the hearing.

After all the information is provided by the district attorney and the probation officer, you can protect your child by presenting counter-evidence. Your child's attorney could try to counter the negative evidence indicating that the minor is a flight risk or a threat to the safety of others. Showing that a minor has been rehabilitated from previous criminal conduct to help convince the court to release them.

Role of the Probation Department in the Detention Hearing

The probation department plays a significant role in the juvenile justice system. The court will consider the prosecutor's report or testimony in all stages of a juvenile case, from arrest to punishment. After an arrest and the minor is taken to the juvenile hall, they will have an interview with the probation officer. The probation office takes up investigating different aspects of the case and the minor's personal life.  

During the juvenile detention hearing, the court requires the probation officer assigned to your child's case to write a report and present it to the court. On the report, the probation officer will detail your child's criminal history. The juvenile justice system aims at rehabilitation of minors and helping avoid criminal activity in the future. If your child has been in juvenile court, the court could consider them non-respondent to rehabilitation. The probation officer is tasked with investigating the crimes committed by your child in the past.

In their report, the officer indicates the type of crime committed, the punishment handed, and the minor's attitude towards the punishment. Other than the criminal history, the probation officer investigates the home environment where a minor would be staying after a release. If the environment is not safe or influences the child towards crime, the detention hearing's outcome may not be positive.

The report from the probation department is presented at the detention hearing. The court will then seek the officer's opinion on whether or not to release the minor. If your child faces charges for a serious offense such as murder, sexual assault, or aggravated battery, the probation officer may advise against releasing them. The probation officer's report is highly regarded by the court and could affect the judge's decision.               

Find a Orange County Criminal Attorney Near Me

Facing criminal charges can be difficult for your child to comprehend. The outcome of juvenile cases is likely to affect your child's life for a long time. When your child is detained at the juvenile hall, they could be terrified and end up making incriminating statements that could worsen their situation. Having your child go home with you could help them clear the mind and feel safe to face the problem.

The juvenile detention hearing is the first opportunity to take your child home. Before the judge allows your child to leave the detention hall, they need to be convinced that the minor is not a repeat offender and they will not flee or fail to appear for other hearings. Therefore, legal guidance from a competent criminal lawyer will go a long way for the juvenile. If your child faces a juvenile delinquency case in the Orange County area, we invite you to contact Orange County Criminal Lawyer for legal guidance and representation. Call us today at 714-262-4833.