If your child is arrested for engaging in a delinquent act, they will be placed in custody awaiting the first official proceeding, which is the detention hearing. At this proceeding, the court decides whether to allow the juvenile to go home or stay in custody in the juvenile hall pending case adjudication and disposition.

The critical distinction between adult and juvenile criminal cases is that the child has no right to bail in the juvenile court. Therefore, you should take the juvenile detention hearing seriously because this is the only chance you have to convince the court to let your child stay home, pending case determination.

Children who face petitions against them must have legal representation at every petition stage, even at the detention proceeding. At the Los Angeles Criminal Attorney, we will formulate compelling arguments to convince the court not to detain your child in a juvenile hall.

Detention Hearing General View

After your minor has violated any law other than a mere curfew, they are arrested. A probation officer can opt to place them in custody or allow them to leave. Even if the minor can go home after the arrest under supervision, they must still attend a juvenile detention proceeding.

The detention proceeding in the juvenile delinquency court system is the same as the arraignment hearing in adult criminal courts. Again, juveniles are not sent to jail after arrest like adults. They are put in juvenile detention halls for community programs that can aid rehabilitation and education. They are taken to a supervised facility if a detention hall is unavailable.

Ensure to evaluate the supervision facility where your child is sent. When it is unsafe to keep the minor in custody pending a detention hearing, the probation officer will allow the minor to go home under the supervision of either the officer or a community worker.

Unlike an arraignment hearing where the adult has a right to bail, there is no bail in detention proceedings. The only way to have the child released is by convincing the court in this proceeding. If you cannot persuade the judge to let your child go home pending an adjudication proceeding, they will remain in custody.

Nonetheless, prosecutors hardly want to hold minors in juvenile halls because this court system aims at rehabilitating and dissuading children from delinquent conduct. Detaining the minor will not help achieve this goal, meaning the court only detains the juvenile when necessary. 

Detention Proceeding Timeline

After arrest, the prosecutor must file a petition against the minor within forty-eight hours. However, the detention period hinges on the delinquent act’s nature. When your child is apprehended for a non-violent or non-serious misdemeanor offense, the detention proceeding will happen within 48 hours after being placed in a juvenile hall.

On the other end, when your child is accused of a felony or violent misdemeanor crime, the hearing will happen within 72 hours of the accusations. Only court days are included in these timelines.

The probation officer in charge of the case must notify you, the parent or guardian of the delinquent, about the detention proceeding, location, and time. This should happen immediately after the prosecutor has filed a petition touching your child. If you are not notified on time, you can request a re-hearing within twenty-four hours.

When the court decides to detain the minor pending a fitness or adjudication proceeding, your attorney at Los Angeles Criminal Attorney can request a re-hearing within three to five days of the initial detention proceeding. The timeline will be determined based on witness availability.

If the court decides to continue holding your minor in a juvenile or supervision facility, they will remain there until the following court date. The next hearing is adjudication, which happens fifteen days after detention. Even though there is no jury in the adjudication hearing, the minor is entitled to legal representation, so you should enlist one.

The Detention Proceeding Process

Before the detention inquiry, you receive a notice from the court regarding the petition against your child, the date, time, and the courtroom where the proceeding will take place. Your child is then arraigned at the detention proceeding, where they learn the type of petition against them and their statutory rights. The court will then furnish you with a duplicate of the case against your child and other relevant documents.

Also, the court will provide instructions on what to expect at the end of the petition. After all the parties relevant to the case are introduced to the court, the designations of the minor’s relatives are jotted down.

During the hearing, the minor has several rights, including the right to:

  • Legal representation
  • Provide the court with evidence
  • Interrogate witnesses testifying in favor of the prosecutor
  • Not to make self-incriminating statements
  • Subpoena witnesses

One of your child's primary rights is to contest the petition filed against them. The most effective way to challenge the petition is by enlisting a defense attorney experienced in juvenile delinquency. The legal representative will poke holes in the proof presented against your minor and provide witness statements to back up the child’s assertions. Further, the child can testify to corroborate their attorney’s assertions.

The prosecutor must convince the court that the accusation against your juvenile is valid for detention pending a jurisdiction hearing. After hearing arguments from both parties, the court determines whether or not to place the child in custody.

Children arrested for delinquent acts must enter a plea during the detention proceeding to the said petition. Unlike the adult plea, the child can admit or deny the allegations. Alternatively, they can enter a no-contest plea or contest the petition based on insanity.

You should understand that if your minor is not in custody and detention is not an issue, they will go directly to the arraignment process. Here, they are informed of the petition against them and their rights and are allowed to enter a plea. 

Instances When Your Child Remains in Custody

The judge determines whether your child will go home or remain in the juvenile center's custody, awaiting a fitness and adjudication hearing. The court’s decision hinges on the following:

  1. Welfare and Institution Code 635 Criteria

The court relies on the criteria provided under Welfare and Institution Code (635) to detain the minor in the juvenile hall in a detention proceeding. Per WIC 635, the court can only keep your child in custody when they establish that the prosecutor evaluated the case and determined that the juvenile engaged in delinquent conduct and that:

  • The delinquent disregarded a court direction
  • The child fled a detention facility
  • The minor is a flight risk
  • The child’s home is not safe
  • The juvenile has a mental illness
  • The crime in question is worth incarcerating the child

The court relies on your child's history of skipping town or previous actions to determine if they are a flight risk. Your attorney at Los Angeles Criminal Attorney must persuade the court that the child is now rehabilitated and is less likely to miss hearings or flee town.

Also, the court can continue detaining the child if they believe it is not in the child's best welfare to continue living in your home. If the social life of the minor triggers a delinquent act, the child will not be released unless your attorney shows that the home environment is safe. If your minor appears before a juvenile court the second or third time, the judge will consider their record obeying court instructions.

When your child faces a petition for a serious felony, the court deems them a danger to society and is likely to continue detaining them in the juvenile hall. A delinquent with a sex or violent offenses record will not be allowed to go home even under supervision.

Furthermore, the court will detain your juvenile if they have a history of violating court orders.  Therefore, they will be detained if the child has skipped court or violated court instructions. 

For an informed decision, the court will ask for the opinions of the prosecutor, the child, the parent, and the defense attorney.

Your minor’s defense attorney will utilize this opportunity to convince the court that the juvenile is not a flight risk or a danger to themselves or the community. The attorney must provide evidence against the detention of the child for a favorable outcome.

A detention hearing is crucial because its outcome determines whether the child will fight the petition in a juvenile hall or at home. This is the first proceeding of the juvenile process, and if handled right, the chances of a favorable adjudication and disposition are high.

  1. Dennis H Proceeding

Even if the outcome of the detention proceeding is unfavorable, all is not lost. Your child’s attorney can appeal a re-hearing. The attorney could request this proceeding if the child were detained because of disputed evidence. In this second hearing, the District Attorney (DA) will use the police report to demonstrate that the supposed delinquent conduct occurred and that the child should be detained.

Your child’s attorney, on the other hand, will interrogate the officer who prepared the report and other prosecution witnesses. The goal is to prove to the court that the prosecutor does not meet the required evidentiary standard. That way, the child will be released from the juvenile hall, but the petition will continue to the next phase.

Community Detention Program, Abbreviated as CDP

In the detention proceeding, the judge can discharge the petition against your delinquent and allow them to go home if there is no reasonable suspicion that the minor engaged in delinquent conduct.

Also, the judge can accept your request to allow the minor to stay at home pending the next court proceeding. When the child is released pending a jurisdiction hearing, the court will ask the delinquent to surrender their driver’s license to guarantee they will return to the court.

Alternatively, the judge can rely on the CDP to ensure your child does not miss the scheduled court hearings. The program is a type of home arrest that involves your child wearing an ankle monitor that tracks the delinquent through the telephone line in your household. So, for your minor to be eligible for the program, you need a landline in your residence and to be available to collect and return the device to the detention hall.

While under house arrest, the court imposes conditions the minor must obey. The requirements include the following:

  • Attending school and returning home directly
  • Attending counseling sessions if necessary
  • Going for regular medical check-ups
  • Attending remedial programs

Note that if your child needs these essential programs, you must notify their attorney to request that the judge allow the minor to attend them. Whenever your minor is away from home for an activity, their attorney must be aware to avoid violating CDP conditions.

If your child violates these conditions, the probation officer in charge of their case will recommend the program's cancellation and detention of the child in a juvenile facility for the remainder of the case.

Prima Facie and how it impacts Detention Hearing

The term "prima facie" means "at first sight.” It is a manner of analyzing a case in the early stages to establish if there is sufficient evidence to reach the jurisdiction hearing, otherwise known as a trial in the adult criminal court. A prima facie case arises when the child is arrested and placed in custody pending the outcome of a detention proceeding.

The prosecutor, being the party with the burden of proof, must prove to the court in the early stages that the evidence they have against the juvenile is solid enough to ensure a favorable outcome during the adjudication hearing, assuming your child’s attorney does not contest it. The prosecutor must demonstrate that they can meet the evidentiary standard for every aspect of the petition. If the prosecutor does not make a prima facie case, it is clear proof they cannot win the case.

The evidentiary standard in juvenile cases is lower than that in adult cases. So, even if they demonstrate during the preliminary screening of the evidence that the proof will bring the minor to a jurisdiction hearing, they must show beyond a reasonable doubt that the child engaged in delinquent conduct.

Using prima facie or early petition screening helps the juvenile judge determine if the case is worth pursuing to the adjudication stage. If the court is not convinced the evidence against your child is strong enough for a sustained petition, they will drop it.

Understanding the Probation Officer’s Duties in a Detention Proceeding

Unlike adult criminal cases, where prosecutors, attorneys, the judge, and the jury play critical roles, the probation officer is vital in a juvenile court proceeding. The officer will be involved in almost every stage of your juvenile’s petition. Let us examine the officer's roles in each stage of the case:

Juvenile Apprehension

Once an officer arrests the minor, they contact a probation officer immediately. If the child has been arrested for a severe offense, the officer will take them to a juvenile hall, where a representative from the probation department will interview them. A juvenile facility is like a county jail, except for accommodating only children. The county probation department operates these detention facilities. In this case, if your child has been arrested in Los Angeles, you should expect them to be taken to any of the following detention centers managed by the county probation department:

  • Los Padrinos Juvenile Hall & Court
  • Barry Nidorf or Sylmar Juvenile Hall & Court
  • Eastlake Juvenile Hall & Court

After the minor is interviewed in any of these facilities, the officer can decide the following:

  • Allow the juvenile to return home under a stern diversion program that deals with the delinquent conduct's root cause.
  • Let the child go home or to an appropriate placement on the condition they will appear for arranged juvenile court hearings.
  • Keep the minor in the detention facility waiting for a detention proceeding.

The Juvenile Court Process

The probation officer will be critical in the entire court process, starting with the detention hearing. Once assigned your child’s case, the officer will investigate the facts and consider the juvenile’s criminal record, social standing, and behavior.

After, the officer will prepare a report regarding the child and present it to the court during the detention proceeding. The report highlights the child’s general behavior and offers recommendations to the judge on whether to send the minor home or continue holding them in a juvenile center.

Again, the officer recommends whether the prosecutor should file a petition against the child and whether trying them in the juvenile court system will be in their best interest. The factors that the officer considers before recommending the filing of a petition against a juvenile are:

  • You and your child’s attitude
  • Whether your child's delinquent behavior involved violence or the threat of bodily harm to another person or property
  • Your child’s age and capabilities
  • Whether your juvenile’s behavior at home, school, or the community requires formal court action
  • Whether the alleged conduct by the minor requires a disposition

Additionally, the officer dictates how the case should be dealt with. If they recommend that the juvenile be placed on probation, the officer will be charged with supervising the minor until the probationary period is over.

Just because an officer has made recommendations to the court does not mean they are right. These officers are also prone to errors. Sometimes, they misrepresent the case’s facts, making the wrong recommendations. When this happens, and your minor is wrongfully detained after a detention proceeding, you will need an experienced juvenile defense attorney to poke holes in the officer’s report and help you reunite with your child.

Your Duties as a Parent or Guardian in the Detention Proceeding

It is critical to recognize that parents or guardians play an essential role in the juvenile detention process. Your first role as a parent is to show up at your child’s detention hearing. You should consult an attorney immediately after you learn of your minor’s arrest. The attorney will explain the consequences the child is likely to face in the event of a sustained petition.

Once you have acquired this knowledge, you should help your child understand what is at stake and how hiring an attorney for them will enhance the chances of a positive outcome. You should do this because the child’s decision is final, and they can agree to be committed if they do not fully understand the consequences. Although an attorney will do most of the explaining, your parental input is critical as it will help the minor make the right decision.

Similarly, the judge will need your testimony regarding the child’s overall behavior. Your testimony will be critical in the detention and adjudication proceedings and can influence the court’s decision on the formal action to take. If unsure of your testimony, you should consult a Los Angeles Criminal Attorney to guide you on the best way to testify in the hearing so your child is released from detention.

As a parent, it is normal to feel angry or disappointed when you learn of your juvenile’s arrest for a delinquent act. If this is not the first time the child has been arrested, you can even recommend that the court teach the minor a lesson through a sustained petition or detention pending adjudication.

Nonetheless, you should know that the conditions in detention centers are not the best. Your child will interact with other juvenile delinquents with even more severe offenses. The aftermath of living with these offenders for months can be detrimental to the child, and they could leave the hall worse than they came in.

Also, you could think that detaining the child will be harmless, even though you do not want them to have a criminal record because it will be detrimental to their life.

Therefore, avoid making hasty decisions without consulting with your attorney. The legal professional will guide you on how to testify and other safe ways to punish your child other than keeping them in custody.

Find a Proficient Juvenile Defense Attorney Near Me

When your child faces a juvenile delinquency petition, you should not hesitate to seek legal counsel. You can make hasty decisions, wanting to teach your child a lesson, only to end up denting their future. We at the Los Angeles Criminal Attorney are eager to guide you through the juvenile court process and advise you on what to say in your testimony to ensure your child's release from a juvenile hall. Call us today at 424-333-0943 for a zero-obligation consultation.