You got the call at work: Your child is in trouble with the law. Now, you're worried about what this could mean. Will your child go to jail? Will he or she face other penalties?
What happens during a juvenile court session?
If your child is arrested for a criminal act, he or she will first be taken to the police station. At that point, the court intake officer looks at the case to determine if any further actions need to be taken. For example, if there is a bad situation at home, Social Services may be called. If the juvenile participated in a crime that needs a trial, then the case may be referred to the juvenile court for a formal hearing. Not all juvenile crimes end up going to court, but if your child's does, then there are a few things that may happen.
First, your child could be detained in a juvenile correction facility. He or she could also be placed in a foster home, group home or shelter if the case calls for it. In some cases, your child will simply go home with you to await a court date.
A petition is then filed with the court to set up the court date for your child's hearing. It's possible that the case may be referred to a district or county attorney if your child's crime is particularly heinous. In those cases, children may be tried as adults and may face adult penalties.
If the case doesn't need to go to court, then your child can be referred to substance abuse facilities, mental health evaluators and others for help. Not all cases have to go through court or result in heavy penalties like time in a juvenile correction facility. Your attorney can help you understand what is likely in your child's case. Our website has more information.