What Happens At A Juvenile Detention Hearing?

December 22, 2009  •  Jerod Gunsberg, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer

THERE IS NO BAIL IN JUVENILE CASES

There is no bail in juvenile cases.  You cannot post bail to get out of a Los Angeles County juvenile hall.  The juvenile court will conduct a detention hearing to decide whether not you or your child should be released. It is important that you have a Los Angeles juvenile defense attorney who knows the juvenile courts and understands how to get your child back home.

THE JUVENILE DETENTION HEARING PROCESS AND PROCEDURE

Your child’s first court date in a Los Angeles County Juvenile Court  is a Detention Hearing and Arraignment.  This is similar to a bail hearing and arraignment in adult court.  A juvenile defense attorney will either be appointed for your child, or you can hire a private attorney.  At this hearing, the following will happen:

  1. Your child will be informed of the charges against him or her (these chages will be written in what is called a “Petition”).
  2. The court will determine whether or not your child should be released from juvenile hall or whether your counsel should go IN to juvenile hall if he or she is currently out.

The important thing at a detention hearing  is that your child’s juvenile defense attorney argues for release (if your child is in custody)  or for your child to remain at home (if your child is not in custody).

The Court considers the following factors when determining whether or not to detain a child in juvenile hall:

  1. The likelihood of flight
  2. The protection of the minor
  3. The protection of the property or person of another (defense should argue that minor is not a threat)

See Welfare and Institutions Code 635 for more information.

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

During the hearing the judge will usually ask a parents about their child.  The juvenile court judge will want to know how your child is behaving at home and how your child is doing in school.

This is a very important part of the hearing, the answers you give about your child may be a key factor in the judge’s decision whether to release or detain your child.

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 into.

IF YOUR CHILD IS DETAINED, YOUR LAWYER CAN ASK FOR A SECOND HEARING

If the minor is not released from juvenile hall or is ordered to be detained in juvenile hall.  Be sure your child’s juvenile defense attorney knows that there is an option of demanding a second detention hearing within 3 days of the first hearing.  This is called a “Dennis H Hearing.”  A  Dennis H hearing is to take place within 3 days of the detention hearing.

At the Dennis H hearing, the prosecution must show by a “strong suspicion” that the alleged offense occurred AND that the minor should be detained.   At this hearing, the defense attorney can cross-examine the prosecution witnesses.     

If the prosecution can not meet their burden, then the minor must be released. This does not mean that the case against your child is dismissed, all this means is that your child is out of juvenile hall.

COMMUNITY DETENTION PROGRAM (“CDP”)

If the judge is reluctant to release the minor, your child’s defense attorney should ask that he or she be put on the “Community Detention Program” (“CDP”).  CDP is basically house arrest.  Your child will wear an ankle monitor that will be tracked by a phone line in your home (you must have a land-line to qualify for the program).  You will need to pick up and return the CDP tracking equipment from a Los Angeles County juvenile hall (the court probation officer will give you instructions).

The judge will likely order that your child only go to school and return directly home.  If your child is in counseling, sees an after school tutor, has regular medical appointments or other good reasons for being somewhere besides school and home, be sure your attorney is aware of this so that he or she can ask the court for permission for your child to be outside of the home for a special purpose.  If your child violates the terms of CDP, the probation department will likely recommend that the court detain your child in juvenile hall.  It is very important that your child’s juvenile defense attorney understands how CDP works.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Juvenile detention hearings in Los Angeles County are complicated.  It requires a qualified juvenile defense lawyer who understands what is at stake and how to get your child out of juvenile hall.

Contact Attorney Jerod Gunserg at 310-210-0744 for a free consultation about your child’s Los Angeles County juvenile case.

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1 Comment

  1. Tillie Branch-Luke
    June 18, 2011

    WOW!!! What an excellent job at explaining ‘What Happens At a Juvenile Detention Hearing’. I am a newly Court Appointed Attorney in the Guadalupe Co. Juvenile Court. The newly appointed attorneys begin with Detention Hearings depending on their experience. This was very helpful.

    Respectfully,
    T.B. Luke

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