Once minors are arrested and held in custody in California, their first hearing is a detention hearing. This is the first of the four hearings involved in a juvenile court process that includes detention hearing, fitness hearing, adjudication hearing, and disposition hearing. A juvenile detention hearing seeks to determine whether the child should stay in custody while waiting for the case's outcome.

At this point in your child's court process, it is recommendable to have legal representation throughout the entire process. The moment he or she loses the detention hearing, there is a possibility that he or she will have to stay in a juvenile hall until his or her case is resolved. Please schedule an appointment with the California Criminal Lawyer Group today and let us build strong defenses and have your child’s charges dropped or reduced.

What you Need to Know About Juvenile Detention Hearing

A detention hearing is the first court hearing that a minor attends once he or she is arrested and placed in custody. The minor has to participate in the detention hearing even after being released and placed in home supervision since this is still considered a detention hearing. The juvenile detention hearing is the equivalent of arraignment in adult cases.

Please note, minors are not placed in jail-like adults but are placed in juvenile halls. These are places that provide custody to children by diverting them to community programs that can help them. San Jose's juvenile hall is the Santa Clara County Juvenile Hall (Address: 840 Guadalupe, Parkway, San Jose, CA 95110).

You should also know that there is no right to bail in a juvenile detention hearing as in adult cases. Therefore, a child can be held in custody until a fitness hearing or adjudication hearing unless their attorney convinces the judge otherwise.

Timeline for Detention Hearing

For minors in custody for a non-violent misdemeanor or a non-serious crime, the detention hearing occurs within forty-eight hours after the juvenile has been taken into custody. This excludes weekends and holidays.

For a minor who has committed a felony or a misdemeanor involving violence, the detention hearing is held within seventy-two hours after being taken into custody. For this to happen, the district attorney must file the petition within forty-eight hours after being placed in custody.

Finally, a detention re-hearing takes three court days of five days if witnesses are unavailable. The three or five days of the hearing starts from the day of the initial hearing.

Please note, the probation officer must inform parents of their children's detention hearing's place and time. If a parent does not receive the notice on time, they can request another hearing within 24 hours.

The Juvenile Detention Hearing Process

As stated earlier, a detention hearing is held the day after the district attorney files a petition. The court will tell the minor why they are under custody and the right to have a lawyer. Other considerations that are made in this process include:

  • Provision of a notice to the court about what is going on.
  • Provision of a copy of the petition and other papers for the case to the parent.
  • Provision of instructions to the parent on what they should expect in the dependency case.
  • Introduction of both parties to the court.
  • Writing down of names of the child's relative.
  • Confirmation of the child's parentage.

Minors have the opportunity to fight or contest the reason behind their lockup. The best way to do this is through the help of a criminal attorney specialized in juvenile cases. The attorney can question the prosecutor on the evidence presented and even present witnesses to support their side of the story. Minors can also present their story on their own as a means to confirm the facts of their attorney's arguments.

In this hearing, the court must believe that the petition is valid. Therefore, it has to decide on the best place for the child. This means that they can put the child under home supervision or in a juvenile center. The court can choose to put the child in a Juvenile center only if:

  • The minor did not obey a court order.
  • The minor ran away from a detention center.
  • There are chances that the minor would run away if the court let them go.
  • The minor should be placed under protection since their home isn't safe, they have a mental or physical problem, and the offense that the minor was arrested for is worth being locked up.

Minors can enter a plea to the charges alleged in the petition. They do not enter a plea of "guilty" or "not guilty" like adults. Instead, they can do any of the following:

  • Admit the allegation
  • Deny the allegations
  • No contest to the allegations
  • Deny the allegations based on insanity

Dennis H Hearing

If minors are not released from the juvenile hall, their attorney can request a second hearing. Their attorney must request this second hearing within three days after the first meeting. At this hearing, the prosecutor must show a strong suspicion that the alleged offense occurred, and the minor needs to be detained. On the other hand, the juvenile's attorney can cross-examine the prosecution witness.

If the attorney finds out that the prosecution does not meet their burden, the minor is released from custody. However, this does not dismiss the case but only proves that the child is out of juvenile halls.

Community Detention Program as Part of the Child's Custody

At the detention hearing, the judge might decide to dismiss the charges made against the minor and release him or her if there is no probable cause to believe that the child committed the alleged crime. The judge has the discretion to release a child to his parents, guardians, and custodians with a written promise to appear in the next hearing. The judge might also order the minor to surrender his or her driver's license. Another means that the judge might use to ensure that the juvenile attends the next hearing is through a community detention program (CDP).

CDP is a form of house arrest for minors that uses ankle monitors that are traceable by a phone line in your home. This means that you must have a landline to qualify for this program. You will also need to pick and return the tracking equipment to the juvenile hall.

Under this program, the judge usually orders a minor to go to school and return home directly. If the child needs counseling, has to attend counseling, attend after-school teaching, or has regular medical appointments, you should notify your attorney. This will help the attorney ask the court for permission for your child to be outside of their home for specific purposes. Minors must consider these requirements since violating them might have the probation department recommend the court to place them in juvenile halls.

Prima Facie and How It Relates with Juvenile Detention Hearing

Prima Facie is a Latin term, meaning a case at first sight. As the phrase implies, this is a way to evaluate a lawsuit at its early stage to determine whether there is any support to bring it to trial. In the case of a juvenile delinquency hearing, a prima facie comes when the minor is taken to a juvenile center after an arrest.

Although most of the court processes in a juvenile case are different, prima facie in a juvenile court process is not different. The party with the burden of proof should present a prima facie when he or she shows enough evidence that supports a verdict in his or her favor, assuming the opposing party does not disapprove or refute it. Therefore, the prosecution must prove that they can meet the burden of every aspect of the case. If the party with the burden of proof does not present the prima facie, the other party can decide on a verdict if they are convinced that it cannot win.

Please note, the burden of proof used in juvenile prima facie is relatively low compared to the need to "proof beyond reasonable doubt" needed in an adult case. Therefore, even when the prosecutor presents enough evidence to establish a prima facie case to all elements, they must prove beyond a reasonable doubt to judge the juvenile as guilty of the alleged crime.

The use of prima facie is an early screening for a court to decide whether the prosecution can go forward and try the juvenile fully for the alleged crime. If the court concludes that there is no enough evidence linking the alleged crime and the child, they will have no choice but drop the charges.

The Role of a Probation Officer in a Juvenile Detention Hearing

In adult cases, the court proceedings' players are the prosecutor, defense attorney, and judge. However, in delinquency cases, the county probation officer has a crucial role in this kind of lawsuit. Probation officers are involved in most areas of the case. Let's have a closer look at these roles.

During the Juvenile Arrest

Once a juvenile has been arrested for allegedly violating a California misdemeanor or felony crime, the minor's arresting officer must contact a probation officer. If the police think that the situation is serious, they will take the child to the juvenile hall. The county probation department runs the juvenile halls.

The county probation officer interviews the minor and might decide to do any of the following:

  • Send the child home with the condition of attending a probation program designed to deal with the offense's root causes. This is referred to as "diversion" under the California Welfare and Institution Code 654)
  • Send the minor home or any other suitable placement with instruction to come to a later date to the juvenile court.
  • Detain the minor in a juvenile hall, where he or she is entitled to a detention hearing within a few days

During the Court Process

Probation officers also have a crucial role throughout the phases of California juvenile delinquency proceedings. For instance, they are responsible for deciding whether the district attorney should file a petition against the minor and recommend whether it is fit to be tried in the juvenile system.

A probation officer should evaluate a few factors to decide whether to recommend a filing against a juvenile. These factors include:

  • Whether the alleged crime involved physical harm or threat of physical harm to a property or a person
  • Whether the child has serious problems going to school, home, or a community that indicate that form court actions are more desirable
  • Whether the alleged conduct in question is proven conduct that requires a court-ordered disposition
  • The attitudes of the child and their guardian
  • The maturity, age, and capabilities of the child

The Role of Parents in a Juvenile Detention Process

The court and probation officers make most of the decisions made in a juvenile delinquency process, but parents have their roles. However, you should note that every decision made is based on the best interest of the child.

The primary role of a parent in juvenile detention is to appear with the child in court. The parent will help the child decide how the judge should resolve the case at hand and the strategy that the criminal defense attorney will use to fight the charges.

Parents can also help their children understand the immediate and long-term consequences of the cases, especially when a child is about to agree to have committed a crime that has harsh effects. Although the defense attorney has a significant role in the decision made, parental input can help their children make the right decision.

Another crucial role of parents includes helping their children understand the direct and collateral consequences that come along, depending on how the case is solved. They should also help their children understand any form of discretionary disqualification that might affect them in the future.

The Role of a Criminal Defense Attorney in Juvenile Court

When it comes to a criminal defense attorney's role in a juvenile court, it is no different from an attorney’s responsibility in an adult case. As a representative of a client, a lawyer should perform several functions. They should advise and provide an informed understanding of your child's rights and obligations. They should also explain the practical implication of the case.

Attorneys should also zealously assert your position under the juvenile court’s rules. They should also negotiate and seek a result that is advantageous to your child and consistent with the requirements of honest dealing with other key players of the legal system.

Finally, attorneys should work as evaluators who examine your child's legal affair and provide a link with other players in the detention process. This means that they should work closely with the probation officer, prosecutors, and judge to decide on your child's best interest.

An Overview of Other Hearings in Juvenile Delinquency Hearing

The juvenile court process does not only stop at the detention phase. Other procedures follow until the minor is "convicted." As stated earlier, the process in a juvenile court case is more or the same as an adult court process but uses different terms.

Fitness Hearing

A fitness hearing or transfer hearing is a proceeding in a juvenile court that allows a judge to decide whether or not to transfer a minor to an adult court and face the alleged charges as an adult. If the judge finds the child to be "fit" for the juvenile system, the minor can stay in the juvenile court. If not, the child is usually transferred to adult court.

In most cases, minors are adjudicated in the juvenile delinquency system. However, judges might order that the juvenile be tried as adults in criminal court for severe cases. Judges usually use several factors to determine whether to transfer the child to an adult court. These factors include:

  • The degree and sophistication of the criminal conduct exhibited by the minor
  • Whether the juvenile stands to be rehabilitated before the juvenile court adjudication expires
  • The minor's prior delinquent behaviors
  • The success of previous rehabilitation attempts on the minor
  • The gravity and circumstances of the juvenile’s alleged crime

A juvenile defense attorney can appeal the decision made in a transfer hearing. However, there is a twenty-day deadline for the appeal between the first arraignment that led to the transfer.

Adjudication or Jurisdiction Hearing

In a California juvenile delinquency court, a juvenile's trial is referred to as adjudication or jurisdiction hearing. In this phase of the juvenile court process, minors are not found "guilty" or "not guilty" but decide whether the minor violated a law. If the court decides that the juvenile has violated a law, they will find the allegations accurate and "sustain the petition" filed by the prosecutor.

On the other hand, if the judge decides that the evidence presented is insufficient to prove a violation of any law, the judge does not sustain the petition.

Please note that the adjudication hearing is the minors' chance to defend themselves against the charges being made on them. However, things are not the same as in adult court, but several procedural safeguards apply. These includes:

  • Inability to present a defense
  • Ability to subpoena witnesses
  • A right against self-incrimination and the chance to testify or not
  • The right to have an attorney’s counsel
  • Mandatory requirement to establish a case beyond reasonable doubt

Jurisdiction hearing should take within fifteen days after the probation officer ordered the detention for minors held in custody. This timeline does not include weekends and holidays. The timeframe for children who are not in custody is usually longer but should not exceed thirty calendar days after filing the petition.

These timeframes are extendable, but only when there is an excellent cause to do or the minor gives consent to the delay.

Disposition Hearing

A disposition hearing in a juvenile court is similar to a sentencing hearing in adult courts. At this point, the judge has found the minor to have committed a criminal offense or a probation violation. Therefore, the judge has to decide on the disciplinary measures to impose. The disposition hearing takes place right after the adjudication hearing.

The judge can wait for the probation officer's social study, which usually contains the probation officer's recommendation to the sentence. The minor's parents can also delay the hearing if they want to submit relevant materials to help portray the minor in a better light. The need for a psychological evaluation on the child can also have the hearing postponed.

There is a wide range of sentencing options that a judge can decide on. The kind of sentencing option that the judge formulates should aim to help the minor rehabilitate. Among the disposition that the judge is open to choose are:

  • Placing the minor on home probation
  • Placing the juvenile in custody at a probation camp
  • Placing the child in a foster home
  • Committing the child to the division of juvenile justice

Some of the terms and conditions that the judge can impose on the child include curfew restrictions, substance abuse counseling, restitution, and community service engagement.

Review Hearing

In some cases, a youth might have to come back to court even after a disposition hearing. This is usually a form of review hearing that is held to determine how the minor is doing on probation, progressing in paying restitution, or evaluating whether the child's foster care is placed in the right place. The judge will use this hearing to make a decision that fits the evaluation made on the minor.

Find a Juvenile Defense Attorney Near Me

The juvenile detention hearing and the whole court process can be a scary and emotional process. Therefore, knowing what to expect and where to find help makes it more manageable. That's why it is recommendable to engage a professional juvenile attorney who can help you evaluate every process and help your child's case be dismissed.

Our top-notch attorneys from the California Criminal Lawyer Group can provide the legal help needed to convince the judge why your child should stay away from a juvenile center until the disposition hearing. If your child is charged for any crimes in San Jose, CA, we are here to help. For more information, contact us at 408-622-0204 and let us guide you through this challenging situation.