Walnut Creek Juvenile Hearings
If your child has been arrested and law enforcement does not release him or her to a parent, the child will be “booked” into juvenile hall. When a petition is filed by the probation department with the court, the government is alleging certain crimes or delinquent behavior by your child. The case is brought before a juvenile court judge who hears the evidence, considers the testimony and decides if the accusations are true.
If you have hired an attorney (who actively works in juvenile law) after a petition has been filed, your attorney has the right to request a 24-hour continuance to prepare and gather witnesses, if necessary. At the detention hearing the court can either detain the child, return home on informal probation, or hold the child for further proceedings. If the court detains your child, your child will remain in juvenile hall until a decision is made at the next hearing.
At the detention hearing, you have the right to:
- cross-examine any witness against you, including the arresting officer
- present evidence on your own behalf
- subpoena witnesses
- present witnesses on your behalf
If the probation department meets their burden of a prima facie case for detention, the matter will then proceed to what is called a jurisdictional hearing. A jurisdictional hearing is usually set within 10 days. This is where the county probation department must PROVE the allegations in the petition by a preponderance of the evidence. All of your child’s rights still hold true at this stage of the proceeding. It is also imperative that you have an attorney that is well prepared, has spent time with you and your family, investigated every aspect of the case and has remained in close contact with you.
At the jurisdictional hearing you have the right to a trial on all the allegations in the petition. Your juvenile law attorney will fight against the allegations – and if your attorney can show that the allegations are false or if the probation department cannot meet their burden of proof, (which is now a preponderance of the evidence), the petition will be dismissed. At this hearing – just like the detention hearing – you have the right to bring witnesses, present evidence on your behalf, and cross examine persons such as. It is important to find a juvenile law attorney that will take the time to meet with you, explain your case to you and your child, and prepare diligently to present your child’s case in a manner of utmost detail and professionalism. If, however, the allegations are found to be true, or any revised portion of them, then the Petition is called “sustained.”
At this point, if jurisdiction is taken upon your child, he or she may either be returned to you with conditions such as informal or formal probation, or sentenced to a juvenile hall or ranch. It is imperative that details in the probation report be examined and challenged in the best interests of your child. Sometimes, a probation report that is not carefully crafted to address your life and your situation will end up being a plan for eventual failure. By law, a juvenile probation plan is required to rehabilitate the child, not punish. Your child deserves more than a standard probation plan. This stage is important to the eventual outcome of your child’s case. You will want a juvenile law attorney to advocate for you to have your child in your custody during any probation period. If your child is sentenced to juvenile hall or a CYA facility, you are entitled, by right, to a visitation schedule, among other things.
If the probation department convinces the court the petition is “true,” then jurisdiction is taken by the Court over your child. The next stage is a dispositional hearing. The probation officer prepares a probation report (mentioned above) and makes recommendations to the court for probation or sentencing. You have the right to another trial at the dispositional stage. Even though jurisdiction was taken by the Court, you still may argue for dismissal of the action or an informal probation plan (see above). If the court disagrees, an effective advocate can still argue for probation or sentencing that doesn’t send the child to a juvenile hall or to DJJ (Department of Juvenile Justice) facility.
If the matter proceeds to a disposition trial, otherwise known as a contest, all the same procedural rights are afforded to the parents. The probation department must show by clear and convincing evidence that the child’s violation of the law requires the court to take further action such as formal probation or placement in the juvenile justice system.
Advocating for the Return of Your Child
At every stage of the proceeding, placement of your child is an issue. Your attorney can ask for return of the child (with probationary terms) at every court hearing because placement is always relevant. At every stage (detention hearing, jurisdictional hearing and dispositional hearing) of the proceedings, settlement negotiations will take place. Your experienced juvenile dependency attorney will advise what is best for your case and on these very important decisions.
If your child has been charged with a felony or a misdemeanor, contact an experienced juvenile defense attorney at The Law Offices of Johnson & Johnson by calling (925) 900-5330.
Hiring Mr. Johnson was one of the best decisions I ever made.- Former Client