What You Need to Know About Juvenile Detention Hearings in California

Jerod Gunsberg, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer

juvenile detention hearing

If your son or daughter is facing a juvenile delinquency case in California, you are likely going to need to appear in juvenile court of an initial arraignment. At this hearing, the issue of detention may come up. In other words, if your child is locked up in juvenile hall at the time of arraignment, this is the first chance your lawyer has to get him or her out. If your child is in the home, the court will consider if he or she should remain in the home during the pendency of the case.

Here’s a few things you should know before going in to this hearing or if your son or daughter is currently detained in juvenile hall awaiting the first court date.

In California Juvenile Cases, There Is No Right to Bail

In adult cases, there is a constitutional right to a reasonable bail in all but the most serious cases. There is no such right in juvenile cases. In California, you cannot post a bond in order to release your child from juvenile hall. Instead, the court will hold a hearing to determine whether or not your child should be held at juvenile hall during the pendency of the case.

What Happens at a Juvenile Detention Hearing?

The first court date is an arraignment and a hearing on whether or not your son or daughter should be detained. At this hearing, your child has a right to be represented by a qualified juvenile defense attorney. Your child will be informed of the charges filed.

  1. You and your child will find out what charges have been filed. Your lawyer also receive a copy of the police report.
  2. If your child is in custody, the court will decide whether your child should be released to the family from juvenile hall. If your child is out of custody, the court may wish to hold a hearing to decide whether or not your child should be detained at juvenile hall.

How Does the Court Decide Whether or Not to Detain a Minor in Juvenile Hall?

The court hears arguments from the prosecution, the defense and may also consider a detention report from the probation department in order to determine whether the criteria for detention, as laid out in Welfare and Institutions Code 635, is met. Those factors are as follows:

  1. Is the minor a flight risk? In other words, will your son or daughter return to court when ordered?
  2. Can your son or daughter be adequately cared for and supervised by his or her family?
  3. If your son or daughter is released into the community, will this create a risk to public safety and the protection of property?
  4. The recommendations given in the probation department’s report.

The court must balance these factors when deciding whether or not to release a minor.

Probation Department’s Report

Before the hearing, a probation officer will prepare a report. In this report, the probation officer will recommend to the court whether or not your child should be detained at juvenile hall. This report will be submitted to the court before the hearing. This report will detail some of the alleged facts of the offense, your child’s criminal history, the child’s home and family situation, and school performance and attendance.

The court will presume the facts in this probation report to be true, but your child’s juvenile defense lawyer still can (and should) present evidence to refute any negative information in the report in an effort to keep your child out of juvenile hall.

Parents’ Role at a Juvenile Detention Hearing

The court may very well ask you how your son or daughter is doing at home. You may be angry at your child, you may want the judge to “teach your kid a lesson” by putting him in juvenile hall. Before you do this though, keep in mind that the Los Angeles County Juvenile Halls are not pleasant places. Sylmar, Los Padrinos, Eastlake… they are all tough places to be. Your child will be placed with offenders who may be older and accused of far more serious crimes than your child. It may be weeks or even months before your child is released again. This will also have consequences as how your attorney can best handle your case. Think carefully before asking the judge to “teach your kid a lesson.” You may not be realizing what you are getting your kid into.

If your son or daughter is facing a juvenile delinquency case in Los Angeles County, or anywhere in California, do not hesitate to contact Los Angeles juvenile defense lawyer Jerod Gunsberg at (323) 633-3423 via the secure contact form on this page for a confidential consultation.

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