How to Prepare for a Juvenile Detention Hearing

Happy Friday everybody, I hope you had a great week. I want to talk to you this week about how you can prepare for a juvenile detention hearing. So it’s a situation that no parent wants to find themselves in, your son or your daughter got arrested and the first thing that’s going to happen is the judge in that jurisdiction, that county judge is going to order a detention hearing to be held to determine whether that child will be released back into your custody while this case is ongoing, or will be detained during the pendency of the case.

Now, these detention hearings by law and by practice are generally going to be held very, very quickly after the initial arrest. So let’s say for example your child gets arrested on a Thursday, it’s likely that detention hearing is going to be Friday morning, or if they get arrested on a Friday, it’s going to be first thing Monday morning.

So that said, you may not have enough time to actually consult with, meet, hire and get an attorney up to speed. And the judge will tell you that in these juvenile detention hearings, an attorney is not required for your child to proceed to this detention hearing. For the case in general, they must have an attorney, but for the detention hearing specifically, the attorney is not required.

So obviously the number one rule is if you can, to the extent that time and budget allows, get a criminal defense attorney that works in juvenile law, because they can navigate through this much easier than you’ll be able to. But in the extent that you can’t, there’s a certain number of things that you need to be ready for and be prepared to answer.

The first, and it’s kind of a general point is you need to have a plan. And by a plan, what I mean is when you go in front of the judge and the judge asks you, what’s the plan for when this child gets out? Some courts call it a safety plan, some of them just call it a regular plan. What they mean is what are you as parents going to put into place to ensure that your child’s protected, that your family is protected, that they’re going to take accountability for their actions, that they’re going to stick around and not abscond and run away?

So you need to come to that hearing prepare to tell the judge what you’re planning on doing to ensure the safety of both the public and your child specifically. What that looks like is my husband and I both work full-time, but we’re going to adjust our schedules so that one of us can be home at all times when my child’s not in school, or we have an aunt or a grandmother who is willing to come over and watch our child while we’re at work, and that person needs to be in the courtroom with you.

It also can sound like we are also grounding our son or our daughter from all electronic devices so they won’t have access to a phone, so they can’t text, we’re going to take away their computer and their laptops so they can’t get on the internet and send out nasty messages. It can be, we’re going to impose a curfew that our child must be home by this time every single day or when they’re not at school, they must be at home. Those are the things that the judge is looking to hear.

The other biggest thing that the judge wants to know is, are you as parents fearful that anybody in that household will be in danger if the child returns home? So let’s say the child gets arrested for some type of assault case. They got into a fight, they hit somebody, whatever. And then the judge will want to know, are there any other children in the home? Do they have younger siblings? Then if the answer that is, yes, the judge is going to want to know, have they ever been aggressive to those siblings? What are you going to put in place to make sure they’re not alone with those siblings so that there’s not any risk of a violent outburst where those younger kids are in danger? So those are things that you need to be prepared for.

There’s 100 other things to kind of know about and to be ready to answer when you’re in front of a judge, but those are the two biggest ones. Have a plan and be ready to answer how you’re going to keep the public, your family, and the child itself out of harm’s way and out of risk. So if you can handle those two things, most of the time you’re going to be okay, because the juvenile justice system is going to default to, they want to release the kid to the parent’s custody. That’s what the judge wants to do. And so if you can make them feel comfortable in making that decision nine times out of 10, you’re going to be okay.

As always, if you have any questions about this or anything else, please feel free to shoot me an email. Give me a call. I’m happy to talk to you about it. I hope this is helpful, and we look forward to seeing you guys next week.

Author Bio

James P. Whalen

James P. Whalen is the managing attorney and founder of Whalen Law Office, a Texas criminal defense firm offering personalized legal representation for various federal criminal charges. With a commitment to providing comfort and guidance during challenging times, Mr. Whalen serves as both an attorney and counselor to his clients, helping them navigate their cases while striving to restore normalcy to their lives.

In an inherently unbalanced criminal justice system, Mr. Whalen takes on cases with unwavering dedication. With decades of legal experience, he offers representation across various criminal charges, including white-collar crimes, violent crimes, drug charges, and more. Mr. Whalen’s numerous accolades, including Super Lawyer recognition and board certification in Criminal Appellate Law and Criminal Law, reflect his unwavering commitment to ethical and high-quality legal representation.

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