As a parent of a child arrested and charged with a crime under the California justice system, you might feel overwhelmed and powerless. However, you have rights that you should not take lightly. For instance, you have the right to be informed when your child has been taken to custody, seek counsel, and be present during the child's court hearing.
It is recommendable to involve a professional criminal attorney once your child is in custody. An attorney will ensure that the court upholds your right throughout the juvenile justice system, besides providing the legal representation you need. Please schedule an appointment with the California Criminal Lawyer Group and let us help you understand and enforce your rights during your child's juvenile case.
Rights that Parents Have concerning their Child's Juvenile Case
Parents need to understand their rights during their children's juvenile cases to ensure that they are enforced and avoid discriminatory situations. However, there are no constitutional rights to be with your child during a police interrogation. This seems confusing, but several aspects must apply to parents during their children's juvenile cases. Failure to adhere to these requirements can significantly affect the outcome of your child's case and, in some situations, lead to the dismissal of the child's case. These rights are as follows:
The Right of Notification after Your Childs Arrest and Detaining
In California, parents must be informed of their children's arrest and detention by the probation officer immediately. Since a detention hearing takes forty-eight hours after placing the child in custody, failure to notify the parent about the arrest and detention prompts the parent to request another hearing within twenty-four hours.
The probation officer should notify parents once their children are placed under house confinement other than custody. Children under house confinement should only move out of the house at a specific time and for particular purposes like attending school and court appearance.
The right to Be Informed About your Child's Constitutional Rights
Knowing your child's constitutional right following an arrest is the single most essential aspect of your child's juvenile case. Familiarity with these rights puts you in a position of enforcing them even when the officials involved in the case do not take them seriously. These constitutional rights are as follows:
The Right to Having Probable Cause while Searching a Minor
Police officers must have probable cause to search minors after suspecting them of committing a particular delinquent act. However, public officials like school teachers only need "reasonable suspicion" of the delinquent act rather than a "probable cause" to temporarily search and detain the child.
Right to a Phone Call
Minors can make a phone call if they are in custody, and there are no chances of a quick release. They can call their parents or guardians, who will call their attorney. If possible, the minor can contact a lawyer directly. Once children ask to speak to their attorney or parent, they invoke their Miranda rights. Therefore, if police officers deny a suspect minor the right to consult an attorney or parent, the court cannot admit any information acquired after that.
As a quick reminder, Miranda rights require officers to let your child know specific facts after their arrest and before questioning. The interrogating officer must let minors know that they:
- Have the right to remain silent
- Anything they say is usable in court.
- Have the right to have a lawyer present during questioning
- Can have a lawyer appointed on their behalf if they cannot afford one
No right to Bail
There is no right to bail when it comes to juveniles. However, most minors are released to their parents before they attend the detention hearing. Juveniles' release to their parents is not automatic but depends on the nature of the crime committed and prior criminal records.
The Right to be notified of the accusations
After the re Gault case, minors acquired the right to be notified of the accusations they are facing.
The Right to Cross Examine and Confront Witnesses
Although juvenile court processes are different from adult lawsuits, minors have the right to cross-examine and confront witnesses. This means that they can question people involved in testifying against them in court through an attorney's help. They can also challenge the testimonies given by the people testifying against them.
The Right to Protection Against Self-Incrimination
Similar to adult court proceedings, minors can enforce their right against self-incrimination. Therefore, the interrogating officer cannot force children to testify against themselves.
No Right to a Jury Trial
In California, jurors cannot decide whether a child is guilty or innocent of the alleged crimes. However, the burden of proof in juvenile court is similar to adult courts. This means that the prosecutor should prove beyond a reasonable doubt to make the minor guilty of the alleged crime.
The Right to Be Proved Beyond a Reasonable Doubt
Similar to adult criminal court proceedings, minors have the right to be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that a high degree of certainty is required to find the minor guilty of the alleged crime.
The Right to Take Your Child to Home with Pending Case's Outcome
Parents cannot influence the judge's decision regarding whether to place their children in custody or not. However, if the child is under home detention, their parents have the right to take their children unless they pose a danger to them.
When judges are deciding whether to place minors in custody, they must confirm whether the prosecutors made a prima facie case and concluded that:
- The minor has violated a juvenile court order.
- The minor has escaped from a commitment of the court.
- The minor is a flight risk.
- The minor needs immediate and urgent protection through detaining
- The minor needs detaining to protect another person's property
In most cases, judges usually ask the opinion of the probation officer, the minor's attorney, and the parent before making this decision. With the help of an attorney, you can convince the judge that your child does not pose a danger to the community and should remain at home.
The Right to Seek Legal Counsel for Your Child
As stated above, children have the right to legal counsel. This means that parents have a mandate to find a lawyer on behalf of their children. While finding the right lawyer to represent your child, there are several aspects that a parent should consider. These aspects are as follows:
Ensure that the Attorney Has Experience
Experience in juvenile delinquency matters is an essential aspect of selecting an attorney for your child's case. It might seem easy for an attorney involved in adult criminal cases to deal with juvenile lawsuits, only to realize that juvenile courts have a different set of procedures. Therefore, as a parent, you must ensure that the attorney handling your child's case has a lot of experience, specifically with juveniles.
Confirm whether the Attorney has Knowledge on Juvenile Matters
Experience isn't everything. A reliable juvenile attorney must also have a good education foundation besides the experience gained in previous cases. Hiring an attorney with valuable knowledge in juvenile suits will help in the following ways:
- Establishing the consequences of a conviction to the juvenile
- Know prosecutors' common tactics and strategies
- Learn about the tendencies and characteristics of judges
- Look for the availability of treatments, programs, and other alternative punishments.
Choose a Local Juvenile Attorney
Laws vary by state. Therefore, you must settle on an attorney from California. Working with a local attorney allows both parents and the minor to meet in person and discuss essential legal issues to reduce or dismiss the alleged crimes.
Confirm whether You Are Compatible with the Lawyer that you Prefer
Although there are several things to consider when choosing a juvenile attorney, the person's character about choosing should factor into your decision. Look for a trustworthy person who makes you feel comfortable. You should also look out for other factors like mutual respect, the exercise of good judgment, hardworking, and someone thorough and thoughtful of every step that he or she takes.
Find Someone Willing to Communicate
You cannot rely on a juvenile attorney who isn't willing to communicate, especially with the limited timeline that juvenile court processes have. There is a tendency for clients to fall out of touch with their attorneys once they fail to maintain consistent communication. Therefore, mention your preferred means of communication and discussion hours to be on the same page. This will help you prevent missing meetings and phone calls.
The Right to Be Present at Your Child's Adjudication and Disposition Hearing
Your presence in court during your child's adjudication and disposition is not entirely required by law, but your availability can bring a shift in the decision made. Given the opportunity, show the court your role in supporting your child and ensure that it understands what kind of help your child needs to be a productive member of society.
If your child has any special needs, ensure that proper systems are put in place to ensure effective communication and your child understands the proceeding.
Again, juvenile court judges usually seek the opinion of the minors' parents during the disposition hearing. This ensures that the decision made will help rehabilitate the child rather than punish him for the allegations.
As a parent, you can use this opportunity to convince the judge to decide on non-custodial punishment such as:
- Monetary fine: The judge will order your child to pay a fine or compensate the victims involved in their alleged crimes
- Seek counseling: The judge will require your child to attend either one-one counseling or group counseling
- Participate in community services: the judge will require your child to complete community service.
- Electronic monitoring: The judge will order your child to wear an electronic monitor on his wrist or ankle at all times for a specific period. Electronic monitoring allows children to avoid direct supervision by probation officers.
- Place the child on probation: The judge can also order the child to complete a probation program. In this case, your child might be required to do certain things like attending school, refrain from doing certain things, and avoid staying in trouble.
The Right to Keep Your Child's Court Proceedings Confidential
To some extent, parents have the right to demand that their children's court proceedings be kept confidential. Ideally, juvenile court records should be confidential to shield minors from the social and professional stigma of keeping their information public. This only guarantees parents, guardians, law enforcement, and school authorities access to these records.
Unfortunately, with widespread juvenile crimes in recent years, legislatures are pushing for juvenile court records exposure to the public to sensitize the community on juveniles’ danger. Specifically, California law enforcement agencies have the discretion of releasing names of children accused of serious or violent crimes. These laws also restrict the sealing or destruction of juveniles charged with these crimes to hold the perpetrators more accountable for their behavior.
You have the right to ensure that your child's criminal records remain confidential, regardless of the legal requirement to make them public. You can do this by excluding the name of your child from the information that is publicly accessed.
Right to Inspect Juvenile Court Files
Like keeping minor's court proceedings confidential, parents can have access to their court records for inspection. This includes the probation report, police report, and prosecution report. Reviewing the police report is essential since it can help you establish whether the police coerced your child into agreeing to commit the alleged crime.
Please note, unlike the media, researchers, and other public members, parents do not need to request to access specific court records.
Right to Protect your Child from Coercion
Under California Senate Bill 203, children under age 18 should not go through custodial interrogation until they consult with an attorney. This aims to avoid a situation where children give up their rights without understanding them.
Remember, some police disregard the fact that they are dealing with children and use coercion to build a case against them. That's why it is recommendable to have the presence of an attorney and the parent (optional) during the interrogations.
Criminal law recognizes three types of a coerced confession. This includes voluntary false confession prompted by a psychiatric disorder that wraps up your child's sense of reality. For instance, your child may confess since his or her disorder creates a belief that this will bring fame. Your child can also make a voluntary confession to protect you, primarily if the alleged crime was aimed at you.
Another type of forced confession that might apply to your child is the compliant false confession. This situation occurs when a minor confesses to end a painful interrogation and a stressful police questioning.
Children can also make compliant false confessions when they believe they will be released from custody after giving the confession or believe that the admission will lead to a milder form of punishment. These are referred to as "compliant" since law enforcement tries to convince minors to agree that they did it.
The final form of confession is the persuaded false confessions. The persuaded false confession works when suspects are put in a position where they start to doubt their memory. Therefore, the minor becomes temporarily convinced by the police that they more or likely committed the alleged crime. The police can also try to persuade them that it is true that the minor has no memory of committing the offense.
Police officers also tend to use psychological abuse to get a confession from a juvenile. This includes the use of emotional ploys and mental tricks. Specific examples include the use of threats of harsher penalties and the promise of leniency if the minor confesses.
Right to Appeal Your Child's Case
Parents have the right to request a review hearing after disposition. In California, the court's order in jurisdiction hearing is not final, meaning it is not appealable. However, it can be reviewed after the disposition hence the review hearing.
The first step in an appeal is writing a Notice of Appeal. This notice informs the other parties that you are appealing the decision of the juvenile court. The Notice of Appeal can be written on a pleading paper or made by completing the appropriate forms.
Please note that parents must file the Notice of Appeal within sixty days of the disposition hearing or after sixty days if a commissioner made the orders. Additionally, you must file the notice at the court location where the case was heard, not in the Court of Appeal. You must then sign the form together with your attorney.
For parents who prefer writing the appeal in letter form, it must contain the following:
- A clear statement showing that you are appealing
- The judgment or order you are appealing from
- Whether you are appealing the whole judgment or part of it
- Your signature and your juvenile's attorney as a way of identification of who is signing
Parental Obligation in a Juvenile's Court Case
Parents must fulfill their obligation to cater for the costs associated with their children's juvenile delinquency case and disposition. These obligations are as follows:
Cover the Cost of Electronic Surveillance
Parents should cover the cost of their children's electronic surveillance. The cost of the electronic surveillance ranges from $5 to $25 per day. These costs might increase depending on the kind of devices used and the minor’s time to wear the bracelet.
Cover the Cost of Legal Services
Typically, a juvenile defense attorney costs around $1,500 - $ 2,500 but can raise to $3,000 to $10,000, depending on the severity of the charges, the complexity of the cases, and the attorney's experience and reputation.
Some lawyers might need you to pay an advance fee referred to as a retainer. For lawyers working on an hourly basis, they will deduct their retainer's charges as the work is being done. Once the retainer is finished, they will bill you for additional charges.
If you cannot afford a private attorney, the court will provide a public defender or a court-appointed attorney. However, parents do not entirely avoid any expenses since they have to pay for the legal services. The cost of paying a court-appointed attorney is less than hiring a private attorney.
Pay for Restitution
Parents are responsible for paying restitution as a result of the offense committed by their children. In most cases, restitutions cover financial losses. These includes:
- Medical, dental, and counseling expenses
- Lost wages due to an injury caused by the child
- Lost wages for the time spent by the defendant while helping the police and prosecution
- Lost, stolen, or damaged property
Many victims who have experienced non-financial losses like pain and suffering also have to be compensated by the juvenile offender. For instance, parents must pay the pain and suffering incurred once the defendant successfully files a civil lawsuit against children guilty of a sex offense.
Please note, when a monetary judgment is made against a child, the child is held responsible until the whole amount is paid. Juvenile courts have the power to collect money from the child until they turn 21 years, at which the power is transferred to an adult court. The fact that minors have turned 21 does not mean that they can walk scot-free. If the money is not paid, the juvenile court will transfer the debt to the adult court, which will enforce the collection.
Abolition of Fee for Youths in California
Effective January 1st, 2018, the California Senate Bill 190 ended the assessment of statewide payment of detention fees for youths under the California juvenile court system. Therefore, parents shouldn't pay for their children's detention fees that would accrue up to $1000 per month before abolishing the fees.
Find a California Criminal Lawyer Near Me
It can be complicated to understand and have your rights respected as a parent in your child's juvenile case. That's why it's advisable to seek help from a criminal attorney who can help you navigate the entire juvenile court process. We invite you to the California Criminal Lawyer Group for a free non-obligatory consultation about your situation. Contact us at 408-622-0204 and learn how we can help you.