The Phases and Timeline of a Juvenile Delinquency Case

Jerod Gunsberg, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer

There are three phases of a juvenile delinquency case: the detention hearing and arraignment, the jurisdictional hearing and the disposition hearing.

Detention hearing and arraignment: This hearing provides the minor notice of the criminal charges against him or her and the juvenile court then decides whether or not to detain the child in juvenile hall. Remember, there is no bail in juvenile cases, it is up to the court to decide whether or not to detain a minor in juvenile hall. To learn more about the factors the court considers at a juvenile detention hearing, refer to What Happens at a Juvenile Detention Hearing?

Jurisdictional hearing: This hearing is the juvenile court equivalent of a trial in adult court. If the child is in juvenile hall, this must occur within 15 days of the detention hearing. If the child is not detained, the jurisdictional hearing must occur within 30 days of the detention hearing. These deadlines need not be followed if the child “waives time.” This is a strategic decision that must be made by the child and his or her defense attorney.

Disposition hearing: This is the equivalent of a sentencing hearing in adult court. At this hearing, the court considers the proper action to be taken and decides what the “disposition” (or sentence) for the child will be based on the facts of the case. In Los Angeles County, the vast majority of juvenile cases do not go to trial and are settled through agreements between the District Attorney and the juvenile defense attorney. This means that the “jurisdictional hearing” and the “disposition hearing” are often done at the same time.

It is important to speak with a qualified juvenile criminal defense attorney regarding your or your child’s case. Contact experienced juvenile¬†defense attorney Jerod Gunsberg for a free a confidential consultation at (323) 633-3423 or via the secure contact form on this page.

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