• Justin Sparks

What is the Juvenile Detention and Intake Process?

Updated: Feb 11


What Happens When a Juvenile is Arrested?


What Happens When a Juvenile is Arrested?


Having your child arrested and taken away in the back of a police car is undoubtedly a scary situation for the child and the parents.  If your child is arrested for a crime, he or she will be taken to the Juvenile Detention Center, which is separate from the jail where adults are taken.  The Juvenile Detention Center may decide to release your child back to you that same day, or they may decide to keep the child based on the seriousness of the offense. Having an attorney intervene as soon as possible can increase your child’s chances of release.  


Juvenile Hearings


Within 48 hours of the juvenile’s arrival at the Detention Center, he or she will have a hearing in front of a judge.  The Judge will then make a decision about whether or not the juvenile has to remain in detention, or be released to the parents.  The Judge will hear a summary about the allegations that led to the juvenile’s arrest, and the Judge may hear other information about the juvenile’s past encounters with law enforcement or the juvenile justice system. The child’s attorney will also have an opportunity to speak. 


The Judge can decide to keep the child in detention if…

  1. He/she believes that the child is likely to run away

  2. The child’s home life is not suitable

  3. The child has no parent or guardian

  4. The child is a danger to himself or others

  5. The child has been convicted before and is likely to commit more crimes if released

It is important to have an experienced, knowledgeable attorney present at this hearing, so that someone is there to speak for your child.  The sooner an attorney is retained, the more time they have to speak to the parents and gather information about the child’s home and school life, any relevant medical concerns, and any positive aspects of your child or anything that makes your child unique.  The attorney will also have time to visit your child at the Detention Center prior to the hearing to gather more information and advise your child on what to do and say in the hearing.


If the Judge decides to keep the child in detention, the child is guaranteed another hearing every 10 business days for the Judge to reconsider the decision.  However, an attorney may request another hearing prior to 10 days, if new information comes to light.  Having a qualified attorney on your side will minimize the time your child has to stay in detention. 


What is Juvenile Intake?


When your child is arrested or charged with an offense, you will soon get a phone call from the Juvenile Probation Department asking to set up an intake appointment.  This sounds harmless enough, but there are a lot of potential consequences that can stem from that meeting, including your child being questioned about the accusation.   


What to Expect During the Intake Appointment

What to Expect During the Intake Appointment


During this meeting, your child will be photographed and fingerprinted.  You will be asked to provide a copy of your child’s birth certificate, school records, and immunization records.  Most importantly, though, you and your child will be asked personal questions about the child’s family, school, work, medical, mental health, and any substance abuse histories.  Your child may even be asked to take a drug test that day.  The child will be asked about the offense they are accused of, and any other encounters with law enforcement or the juvenile justice system. 


The child will also take several evaluations designed to assess the child’s risk to commit other offenses in the future.  All of this information will be compiled into a document called a Social History and it provided to the District Attorney’s Office and your attorney.  It is even provided to the Judge at the time the child is sentenced. 


Go to an Intake Appointment Prepared


Understandably, an intake appointment is much more serious than it initially seems.  It is important to retain an experienced attorney before responding to the Probation Officer’s request for an appointment.  Your attorney can assess the allegations, and get information about your child.  Then, your child’s attorney can accompany you to the meeting, if you decide to have one.  During the meeting, the attorney may advise you and your child not to answer some questions, for the child’s best interest.  It may not be beneficial for your child to talk about the accusations during this initial meeting, and that is something that your child’s attorney would advise you.


If you have already participated in an intake appointment, it’s not too late.  However, it is important to retain a qualified lawyer who can minimize the impact the Social History may have on the outcome of the case.  We are here to help you.