Children always make mistakes, which can lead to them being arrested and charged in California's juvenile court system. That can make you, as a parent or legal guardian, feel powerless and overwhelmed. However, as a parent, you have legal rights over your child. If the police arrest your child, you can still retain your parental right to your child. You can fight for your rights with the help of a qualified attorney who understands juvenile cases and knows how to maneuver and fight for your rights.
Your rights may, however, be limited. For example, it’s not a constitutional right that you are with your child when the police interrogate him or her. Other limitations come if your child has been placed in legal guardianship, he or she has run away, or the court has restricted your parental rights. If you want the help of a criminal defense attorney who is conversant with juvenile cases, get in touch with The Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney.
Parental Rights in a Juvenile Delinquency Case
Despite having your child taken away from you, you have legal rights over your child. Some of the parental rights that you are entitled to in juvenile delinquency cases include:
- The right to be informed about the constitutional rights of your child
- The right to hire an attorney for your child
- The right to get a notification when your child is arrested and detained
- The right to attend your child’s court hearings
- The right to have your child’s court information kept confidential
- The right to review your child’s court file
- The right to visit your child in the new placement
- The right to an emergency removal from the new placement
- The right to have your child record sealed
- Right to medical decision
- Right to education Decision making
- Right to a reunion plan
The Right to be Informed about the Constitutional Rights Your Childs
When your child has been arrested and charged for a crime, you have a right to be notified about your child’s constitutional rights, which are:
- The right to remain silent before getting an attorney
- The right to hire an attorney
- The right to be appointed an attorney if he or she cannot afford one, among others
- The right to examine the witnesses to testify against them
- The right to present their evidence
- The right to an appeal
Understanding your child's rights in juvenile cases will ensure that the rights are protected, and there will be fair justice for the child.
The Right to Hire An Attorney for Your Child
Any person who has been accused of committing a crime in California has a right to legal representation. It can be overwhelming if your child is charged for committing a crime and is found guilty. As a parent, you will always want the best for your child in any way. If the police arrest your child, you have a right as a relative, guardian, or parent to hire an attorney to fight for your child's charges. The attorney will help defend the charges against your child, and the case may either be dropped or charges reduced. If you cannot hire one for your child, the child has a right to get one appointed to advise him through the trial process.
The Right to Get a Notification When Your Child Is Arrested or Detained
It is a requirement by the law that when the police officer arrests your child and takes him or her to the probation officer, you must be notified immediately. It is also a requirement that if your child is taken to custody and there is no possibility of you being contacted, the probation officer should ensure that the child reaches you within an hour after being taken to custody. If the officer fails to do so, it is considered a misdemeanor offense committed by the probation officer. Therefore, you will have an opportunity to contact an attorney on behalf of your child as soon as possible.
The Right to Attend Your Child's Court Hearing
In a juvenile hearing, some people are entitled to be present at the hearing; the child, parents, the child’s attorney, social worker or a probation officer, prosecuting attorney, and any other person who is entitled to get a notice of your child’s hearing. Therefore, it will be considered a crime for the officer if they deny you the right to attend your child’s hearing at any point in the trial process.
The Right to Have Your Childs Court Information Confidential
The records of your child can be accessible even to the public once they are charged. As a legal guardian or parent, you have a right to have the child's records kept confidential. The reason being, if your child’s criminal records are accessible by the public, he or she will be intimidated and will feel unfit to get back to society. The child can also suffer from emotional trauma once they notice that their record is known all over. You will request the court to have your child’s record kept confidential for the sake of your child's mental and emotional wellness.
The Right to Review Your Child’s File
Even if your child has been taken to custody for committing a crime, you still have some legal rights to your child. If you are notified of your child's arrest, you have a right to know what your child has been accused of and the charges waiting. When you get to the station, the arresting officer should avail your child’s file to you to understand the specific allegations that your child has been charged. If your right is denied by any of the officers in charge of your child’s custody, then you can have your attorney fight for your rights.
When your child is charged for an offense, he or she can be placed in a detention hall, camp, and foster home or an institution. If your child admits committing a crime and places far from you, you have a right to visit the child at the placement. Visitation is acceptable as long as it is not detrimental to the child. You can do visitation in different ways; you can personally go and see the child physically. You are also entitled to making phone calls to know the progress of your child. Therefore, the probation officer has to give you the right contacts to your child for the sake of your communication. Having your children separated can be upsetting and traumatizing. You don't have to worry if more than one of your children has been kept away from you. The reason being, they will both be placed in one place to make it easy for you to contact them together.
The Right to Emergency Removal
There are instances where your child can be placed under different care like a foster home. As a parent, you notice that your child is not being taken care of properly or is being abused. You have a right as a parent to file for a petition to have your child removed from the placement. Instances that will give you a right in such circumstance are:
- When you notice that the trusted person with your child's custody is not providing proper care.
- If your child is not given enough food, clothing, medical care, or shelter in the new placement.
- If your child is suffering severe emotional damage
- If there is any form of abuse in the new placement, such as physical abuse or cruelty.
The above cases are rare because the probation officer always looks for a place where there is full responsibility. However, you have a right to file for a petition if you notice any of the above happenings.
The Right to Medical Decision
As a parent, you can still make medical decisions for your child even after they have been removed from your custody. If your child develops any medical condition or a health issue, it’s a right that you should be contacted before a physician attends your child. In California, the court upholds a parent's right to make medical decisions based on their religious background. Some conditions limit your control over medical decisions. For example, if your child has developed a mental illness, the court can overrule, and your child can get medical attention against your will.
Another example where the court can overrule your right is when the outcome of t your child’s illness is death. The officers will seek immediate medical assistance to save the life of your child. In the above scenarios, you have no right to file for a petition to deny your rights.
Right to Plan for Reunification
At some point, your child will complete his or her sentence and will come back to you. Therefore, you have a role as a parent to plan how you will reunite with your child when the time comes. One of the steps is through the visitation program. Keeping a close distance from your child will create a path for your child to reunite with you and the community at large. The reason being, you will be monitoring your child’s behavior, and you will assist him or her in behavior change whenever you see them doing wrong. Another way to create the right path for a reunion is by following all the court orders. If you do all that is required of you by the court, you will also have an easy time with your child, and after the sentence, the court will have no issues letting your child go home with you.
The Right to Have your Child’s Record Sealed
Your child’s record can be sealed once they attain the age of 18. You can therefore file for a petition to have your child’s record sealed to prevent future inconveniences. The reason being, criminal records can harm your child’s life because they will have challenges in looking for essential services. Criminal records can make it hard for your child to secure a permanent job. In California, it can be challenging to get residential home, among others. It is because they will have to disclose the records to the employer and the residential homeowners. Once the record is sealed, it will only be accessible and not to the public. The child will, therefore, not be required to disclose the record once it is sealed.
The Right to Education Decision- Making
Even if your child is placed in a foster home or a different place where the probation officer chose to benefit the child, you still have a right to decide where your child will learn. You can have your child continue studying in their former school and cannot be moved at any point without your notice. The people under your child's custody are only supposed to ensure that your child is comfortable, safe, and succeeds in the academic pursuit. Your child has a right, like any other children, and he or she has the right to:
- A stable school placement
- Access to different academic resources
- Attend school with minimal disruption
- Enroll in the previous school without changing the residence and
- Enroll in any school with his or her peers
The person responsible for your child’s custody is supposed to take them to school. You also have an option on how your child will get to school. You can decide on your child using the school bus, private car, as long as you pay for it or any other means you feel is safe for your child.
Delinquency Court System
In most cases, if your child has been arrested for committing a crime, he or she will be tried in a juvenile court. However, it will depend on the child's age and the type of crime that he or she has committed. If your child is charged as a felony convict and has attained the age of 14, he or she will be tried in adult court. When arrested, law enforcement agencies will determine whether your child will be released or detained. After your child has been charged, the police can:
- Send your child to the police station
- Give notice to you and your child to appear before the court on a set date
- Make the record of your child arrest and is then let to go home
- Send your child to an agency, foster care, or in an institution where care and shelter will be given to your child.
- Put your child in a detention hall
- Give your child a verbal warning
- Put your child in a counseling session. Engage your child in specific community service.
The arresting police must inform your child about the rights like remaining silent before they are appointed an attorney and other more. The juvenile court process consists of different hearings that include:
- Detention hearing
- Arraignment hearing
- Transfer hearing
- Jurisdiction hearing
- Disposition hearing
The law gives the timeline and guidelines on how each of the hearings will take place. During the hearing, the court considers your child's age, the nature of the crime committed, and your child’s history.
Initial Detention Hearing
After the police arrest your child, you and any other related party will be issued a notice about the arrest and notified about the first hearing. At the hearing, the judge will investigate the evidence presented and decide whether your child will be detained or let go home.
A pre-trial hearing is held to determine whether your child’s case can settle without a trial or not. If your child's case is not resolved at the pre-trial hearing, a jurisdiction hearing is held later.
The hearing is meant to enable the judge to decide if your child committed the crime. The judge will make the decision depending on the type of evidence presented. The jurisdiction hearing is usually done 15 days after the detention hearing. Your child’s attorney can, at this stage, present the proof why your child should not be detained. The attorney will do so by examining the witnesses, objecting to the evidence presented to your child, and arguing the case. If your child admits to committing the crime, then there will be a dispositional hearing where your child will be sentenced.
At the dispositional hearing, the judge will decide on the punishment for your child. The judge can choose to:
- Put your child on probation
- Declare wardship
- Refer your child to a suitability hearing or
- Set aside the court's judgment and dismiss your child’s case.
If your child is put on probation, he or she can be sent to different places:
- a foster home
- A local detention facility
- To a relative or
- To a Division of Juvenile Justice
The judge will also set terms and conditions for the probation, which your child will follow.
What Could Happen To Your Child after the Arrest?
There are different sentencing options for your child in a juvenile court. The options include:
If your child has not committed a serious crime, he or she is eligible for informal probation. Probation will also be an option if your child is a first-time offender and has committed non-violent crimes. Your child can also be put on a diversion program as a way of ensuring behavior change. Upon successful completion of the program, your child’s case can be dismissed.
Deferred Entry of Judgement
It involves your child admitting to the crime, but the charges against him or her are dismissed once they complete the Deferred Entry of Judgment program. The program can last between 12-36 months and is available even to first-time felony convicts. Therefore, it's essential to have an attorney who will help you make the right decisions regarding your child’s welfare.
Formal Probation at the Camp or Home
Ward of the court is another option that the court can have for your child. When the court declares your child a ward of the court, he or she can be put on probation while at home, in a foster family, or a camp. During the probation period, some terms and conditions will be set for your child to follow. They include:
- Curfew restrictions, which are restrictions to a particular group of people in the society
- Mandatory school attendance
- Impediment to possessing weapons and
- Restrictions on substance abuse
Your Responsibilities When Your Child Has Been Arrested
As a parent or a legal guardian, you may have some financial responsibility if your child damages other people’s property. The victim can file for a petition to have their damage compensated, and you will therefore pay a restitution fee. Additional fees that you may be forced to pay are medical bills for the victim, pay your child’s attorney for the services offered, and the upkeep expenses for your child while in the correction or rehabilitation center. You can seek assistance from the probation officer on where to get financial aid or talk to your child’s attorney on the options available to financial aid.
Record Sealing for Your Child
You can have your child’s record sealed once he or she attains the age of 18. Retention of your child’s juvenile record can negatively affect your child's future, especially if they want to secure a permanent job.
Find a Juvenile Delinquency Attorney Near Me
If your child has been accused of committing a crime and has been put under custody, you can still have a say in your child’s case. You have legal rights to attend the hearings, hiring an attorney, among others, for the sake of your child’s custody. If you are denied these rights, you can hire an attorney to help fight for your rights in the juvenile case and, in turn, have some form of control over your child’s welfare. We at The Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney have qualified attorneys who understand juvenile case legal procedures. The attorney will help fight for your rights even if your child has been put under custody. Contact us at 310-564-2605 and get the best advice and legal representation on how to fight for your rights.