What is the Juvenile Court System like?
Your child can be arrested and taken to juvenile detention for anything from a minor school fight, to tagging (graffiti) to theft or murder. That means, if your child is picked up for something relatively minor such as writing on a bathroom wall, your child can be placed with juvenile thugs for up to thirty days without the State pressing any charges. To make matters worse, there is no bail in the juvenile system. Every ten days, a detention hearing is scheduled. At that hearing, a judge or associate judge decides whether or not the child can be released pending the court date. These hearings are short and do not allow much time for evidence to be presented. The child can request a hearing in front of the judge rather than the associate judge.
The two principles of Juvenile Law are simple – (1) your child does not have the rights of an adult and (2) your child can be held indefinitely if the judge decides that the child is not being supervised at home. Further, the judge can decide to place your child outside of your home.
The person who will make many of the recommendations to the Court is the child’s probation officer who becomes a part of the case AS SOON AS your child is arrested. Instruct your child to make this probation officer his best friend but not to confess to the officer or discuss past bad actions. Just be pleasant and cooperative.
What should you know that might minimize the chances of your child spending unnecessary time in juvenile detention?
First, teach your child to ask for you or your child’s attorney BEFORE answering any questions asked by school personnel or police officers. If your child is taken to the office at school for questioning, he should know that silence is permissible. Instruct your child NOT TO TALK. School officials have been known to solicit a confession by telling a student that if the child confesses, the school personnel will let him go. Teach your child to JUST SAY "NO" politely to both school officials and police officers. Teach him to insist upon having his parent present. Then, once you arrive at the scene, make sure your child continues to keep quiet especially if it seems that an arrest is imminent. Call an attorney immediately.
Second, be prepared with a plan for the release of your child. Who will watch him? Will you be able to keep him away from the other children involved in the alleged incident or from the other participant in a fight? Can you enforce his curfew? Is your house drug free? The judge will want to know your plan. If the child is charged with a serious offense, then you might not be able to have your child released.
Who can attend Juvenile Detention Hearings?
Usually, only the parents or guardians of the child attend. The judge, at a detention hearing, only wants to know the offense with which the child is charged, what the probation officer recommends, what the DA suggests, what your attorney thinks is in your child’s best interest and your plan of action. Nothing else will be discussed unless, of course, you have someone else with you confessing to the crime.
All information contained within this web site is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. No attorney-client relationship exists from the use of this web site, and an attorney-client relationship may only be established by contracting directly with Karen Dalglish Seal, Attorney at Law. Intellectual property within this Website are copyrighted and may not be reproduced in any form without the express permission of Karen Dalglish Seal. Licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Not certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.
|Site Map | Contact Us | Last Updated 3/12/2007 32|