When your child or a minor under your care commits a crime in California, their case is held through the California juvenile court system. The law that deals with a minor’s juvenile behavior is significantly different from adult criminal procedures. The only comfort is that the entire procedure is less formal than that of criminal court. In a juvenile judicial court, there is no jury to decide on the innocence or guilt of your young one.
When the police arrest your child, the first thing is to ensure their freedom by hiring the services of an experienced attorney to handle their case. You will realize that the impact of a juvenile justice court system record on your child's life could have long-lasting adverse effects on their life. Therefore, it is essential to understand the juvenile justice system's procedures and know-how to shield your child from its effects. Sometimes your child may commit an offense due to peer pressure, which should not hinder them from attaining their full potential. With the help of a qualified and experienced criminal defense attorney, you have a better opportunity to ensure your child’s mistake does not affect their future negatively. At Chula Vista Criminal Attorney, we understand your need and desire to protect your child. Our lawyers understand the intricacies surrounding the California juvenile justice system, and we will work hard to ensure your child obtains justice.
Understanding Juvenile Delinquency In California
When your child or a minor under your care commits an offense, the law categorizes their offense into two groups, namely status offense and delinquent act. If they commit a crime due to their age, they will have committed a status offense. Status offenses are usually minor and do not carry harsh penalties. An example of a status offense is a curfew violation. On the other hand, the Delinquent act is a crime that is still a crime even if an adult-like robbery commits it with violence. Juvenile delinquency, therefore, refers to a minor who commits a delinquent act offense.
Overview of Juvenile Judicial System In California
Though the juvenile justice system is different from the adult criminal judicial system, it adheres to the same strict rules for its proceedings. The primary role of the juvenile justice system is to ensure that the young ones receive rehabilitation and discipline rather than punishment for their offenses. When law enforcement agents arrest your child, they may choose to take one of the following courses of action:
release your child with a strict warning
take the case to the local District Attorney
release your child and request them to come with the parent or guardian
take them to a juvenile hall under the care of a probation officer
If your child is taken to juvenile hall. In that case, they will meet a probation officer who can release them to you with a citation to appear in court at a later date, release them to you under a probation program, or detain them in the juvenile hall and let a juvenile judge review their case.
What To Expect When Your Child Faces Charges
Under California Welfare and Institutions Code 601 and 602, the state categorizes juvenile judicial proceedings into two groups. Under 601, a probation officer from the probation department can file a petition against the minor facing curfew violations, missing school, running away, among other minor allegations in court. If the court sustains this petition, the minor becomes a ward of the court as a status offender.
On the other hand, 602 deals with petitions that the District Attorney's office files against a minor accused of committing criminal offenses. Some of the criminal offenses which your child may face under section 602 include and are not limited to:
Robbery, petty theft, or shoplifting
driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs
Possession of illegal substances
Juvenile Court Proceedings
After your child has been arrested and detained in California, they will face several hearings in their case. In California, juvenile court proceedings involve detention, fitness, pre-trial or settlement, adjudication, and disposition hearings. This article will shed more light on detention hearings so that you may be well prepared when going to court.
Overview Of Detention Hearing
Once your child has been arrested for committing a crime and taken into custody under California law, the probation department is then responsible for any course of action. A probation officer may decide to let them go or hold them in custody and wait for their court arraignment. A detention hearing is held immediately at the juvenile court, which helps reduce the amount of time your child spends at the juvenile hall. Since your child will be held in custody at the juvenile hall awaiting their case, it is essential to attend the first hearing and convince the judge to release them into your custody. This hearing is the first hearing that your young one will attend and is equivalent to an adult arraignment hearing. When it comes to a detention hearing, it doesn't matter that your child is under home supervision as the law considers them in custody and entitled to this hearing.
Detention hearings are held at the juvenile justice court by a judge. Your child’s detention hearing will occur in the county where the arrest took place, mostly in their residential place. The law does not mandate a juvenile court to keep the minor for a certain period, and this means that the court will decide to keep your child under custody at the juvenile hall depending on their case circumstances.
Sometimes a juvenile court can decide to keep your child under custody but may lack a juvenile hall. The court may place your young one in a highly supervised facility in such a situation. To keep your child in a supervised place, the court will have to evaluate the facility’s security and if staying at the place will benefit minors. If the facility is not secure enough, the court could release your child under strict home supervision. When a judge releases your child under your care, they put them under the supervision of a community worker or a probation officer.
Understanding Juvenile Court Detention Hearing
Juvenile court holds detention hearings in a courtroom, and it allows you to have a criminal defense attorney representing your minor. The law requires the court to issue you a notice to attend your child’s detention hearing indicating the time, venue, and date. In an adult court, whether the accused person will stay in custody or not depends on bail, an amount of money paid to the court for your release. The court can release you if you have a successful bail hearing with you posting bail. However, this is not the case when it comes to juvenile courts, and you can not pay bail for the release of your child. When your child attends detention hearings, one of your main concerns should be to ensure that the judge lets them off the hook, as there are no bail rights for juvenile cases. If the probation department wants to detain your young one at the juvenile hall, you can only prevent this by convincing the judge to release the minor into your care.
Fortunately, most juvenile court proceedings are closed to the public. But, sometimes, the prosecution may request to treat your child as an adult when they face serious offense charges. If the prosecution succeeds in their request to treat the minor as an adult, then the detention hearing could be treated like a criminal adult trial. Some of the offenses which could lead to the court treating the minor as an adult include sexual crimes, drug crimes, use of firearms, among others. If your child is in such a situation, the help of your skilled defense lawyer may help in requesting that the court proceedings be held in private. This helps in securing the minor's privacy.
During a detention hearing, the court allows the following individuals into the courtroom:
The accused person
child's legal counsel,
the child's parents or guardian
Detention Hearing Determines If Your Child Will Stay Under Juvenile Custody Or Not
During this hearing, a judge will determine if your child should stay at the juvenile hall or go home as they await their case’s outcome. Your child’s detention status will depend on the severity of the case and if they have any previous criminal history. A detention hearing should occur within 48 hrs after your child’s arrest, exclusive of holidays and weekends. Any delay violates your child's rights under California’s juvenile law. If your child faces a violent misdemeanor or felony charge, their detention hearing should be within 72 hours, excluding holidays and weekends. The juvenile court should notify you of the location and time of the detention hearing. If the court fails to notify you of a detention hearing, you have the right to request another detention hearing that you can personally attend. You should take advantage of the time before the hearing to ensure you have secured the services of a top-notch defense attorney. An attorney plays a vital role in ensuring the court releases your child immediately, as a delay could mean your child will stay at the juvenile hall since juvenile law does not allow for bail.
Arraignment Of The Minor
It's during a detention hearing when your child is arraigned in court. Court arraignment means that the judge will inform them of their charges, have their rights read to them, be allowed to make their plea, and the judge will inform them of the charges they are facing. It is at court arraignment when the judge will inform your minor of their right to:
subpoena a witness
bring your evidence to the court
cross-examine the witnesses
Against making self incriminatory statements
After the judge has read the minor’s rights, they don't plead guilty or guilty like in an adult criminal court. In a juvenile court, your child can make a plea where they can deny the allegation leveled against them, admit to the allegations, deny allegations by pleading insanity, or decide not to contest the allegations.
You should note that if your child is not in custody, their first hearing is at the arraignment, where the judge informs them of their rights and the charges against them. During the arraignment, the judge gives your lawyer a copy of the incident report of the petition against your child and allows them to review them.
Probation Officer’s Role During Detention Hearing
When law enforcement officers arrest your child, the juvenile court appoints a probation officer to look into their case. The probation officer will look into your child’s social issues, their criminal records, if they have any, and their general conduct. A probation officer prepares a report before the detention hearing and must always be present at the court during the detention hearing. The officer's role is to investigate your child’s background and then recommend the court advise the court if they think it will be beneficial to release the minor or hold them in custody.
The probation officer presents their report to the judge before the detention hearing regarding details of your child's charge details. Depending on the severity of the offense your child is facing, the probation officer’s report may recommend that your child remains in custody as they await the outcome of their case. Also, the probation officer’s report explains more about your child’s criminal history and home situation. If your child has no prior record, the report may recommend their release. However, if your home does not provide a conducive environment for the minor, this report could recommend that the court place the minor in a safe environment.
In most cases, a juvenile judge will presume the officer’s recommendations to be an accurate representation of your child’s life. However, with the assistance of your attorney, they can convince the court to disregard the negative part of the probation officer’s report, which will work on your child’s side, increasing their chances of being released from juvenile custody.
Parent’s Role During Detention Hearing
The court will request you to attend your child’s detention hearing and testify about their behavior and school performance. This testimony plays a crucial role in deciding whether to detain or release your little one. It is, therefore, crucial to talk to your lawyer and let them guide you before testifying in a juvenile court.
Factors That A Judge Considers During Detention Hearing
During this hearing, the judge will consider various factors before deciding if the minor should stay in detention, awaiting the outcome of their case. For the court to keep your child in custody, the prosecutor must make a strong case that:
Your child violated a court order. When deciding whether to release or detain your child, the court will look into your child's ability to follow all the court’s commitments. If your child has previously violated any court order, a judge may not quickly release them but have them stay at the detention hall as they wait for the outcome of their case.
There is a need to keep your child in a detention facility for their protection. A judge will release your child into your custody during this hearing if it is beneficial to the minor. The court will consider what triggers your child's criminal behavior and how they relate with others socially. If the court views your home environment as a risk factor that could trigger your child’s criminal activity, it may decide to hold them in custody as they wait for the outcome of their case.
That your child poses a high flight risk, before determining if the juvenile court should release your child into your care or have them stay at the juvenile hall, the judge will consider the possibility of your child escaping and their past actions. If your child has a history of running away from custody, the court may be reluctant to release them into your custody. However, your criminal defense lawyer could argue that your child has completed their probation and is fully rehabilitated, thereby posing no flight risk.
There is enough reason to keep your child in a juvenile facility to protect someone else. Sometimes your child may be facing an accusation of having committed an offense against someone else. For instance, if your child is facing sexual or violent crimes against another person, the court may consider the alleged victim's safety when deciding whether to release the minor from custody. Also, if your child has a history of being violent, the judge will not quickly release them from juvenile custody.
Your minor is responsible for the alleged offense
Your child escaped from a juvenile facility
A judge will listen to all the parties involved, namely, the minor, the prosecution, defense, probation department, the minor's parents, before determining if the child should be detained at the juvenile center or released to their parents or guardians.
When you have a juvenile criminal attorney defending your child, they will use the opportunity given by the court to persuade the judge to release the minor into the custody of their parents or guardian. A criminal defense lawyer will do this by showing the court that your child is not a flight risk or does not pose any danger to themselves or the community. Additionally, your defense attorney will work hard to ensure the court disregards any proof which shows that the court should detain your child.
What Happens If Your Child Losses?
When the court decides that detaining your child is in their best interest, it will place a detention order for their detention. After putting this order in place, it will then appoint a probation officer whose primary responsibility is to ensure the minor is under safe and favorable conditions. Your child will have to stay in the juvenile hall until their next court hearing. Your child’s next hearing, the jurisdiction hearing, should occur within 15 days. You do not have to worry about your child’s stay at the juvenile hall, as your defense team has several legal options. These options are:
Request For A Re-hearing
When a judge decides that your child should stay in custody during the duration of their case, your defense team can request a rehearing. A re-hearing takes place mostly when your lawyer believes that the judge reached a decision based on some questionable evidence. For instance, your lawyer can request a rehearing when a judge uses the recommendations made by a witness' report. Still, the witness doesn't testify during the hearing. With a rehearing, the judge will sermon the witness to testify in court during the rehearing personally. Your defense lawyer can use this opportunity to cross-examine the witness and ensure that all the facts are correct.
Request For Alternative Custody
Your lawyer can request alternative custody, where instead of your child staying at the juvenile hall, they are released into your care under strict guidelines. A judge can impose strict terms and conditions that your child must adhere to, and failure will mean they will be taken back into juvenile custody. These conditions include electronic monitoring, which utilizes an electric device equipped with a GPS for tracking purposes.
Contact A Juvenile Criminal Attorney Near Me
Since an arrest for your child can be a traumatizing experience for your whole family, your child does not have to spend their time in custody as they wait for their case to end. The court holds a detention hearing to determine if your child should be released or whether they should remain in custody as they await the conclusion of their criminal case. Competent legal representation is key when dealing with a juvenile case in California. Our experienced attorneys from Chula Vista Criminal Attorney will guide you throughout the process, ensuring you and your loved one understand each step of the legal process. We will also help convince the judge to release your child into your custody, taking care of any point that could negatively affect the chances of release. Feel free to contact us at 619-877-6894, and let's start this journey together.